With their classical training and unique accents, a number of African-born actors are achieving tremendous success in Hollywood (almost as exciting success as playing with Thunderbolt casino coupons). Some stars of note include:
Shaunette Renée Wilson
Guyanese-born Shaunette Renée Wilson is best known for her role as Dr. Mina Okafor in the Fox series The Resident and as Dora Milaje in Black Panther. Wilson was raised in New York and received a BA in Drama and Theatre from Queens College before attending the Yale School of Drama. In addition to her well-received roles in The Resident and Black Panther Wilson appeared in Cardboard Piano, Paradise Lost, The Children and The Seagull. The 32-year-old actress recently finished shooting Netflix’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics and will take on the role of Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the soon-to-be-released Indiana Jones 5.
Dijimon Hounsou is best-known for his roles as Cinqué in Steven Speilberg’s 1977 Amistad and as Juba in the 2000 film Gladiator. Hounsou was born in Benin and from the age of 12 was raised in France where a chance meeting with a photographer led to work as a model. In 1990 Hounsou moved to the United States where he pursued a career in activing, notably in music videos for Paula Abdul’s Straight Up, Janet Jackson’s Love Will Never Do (Without You), Hole One by En Vogue and and Express Yourself by Madonna.
In 1990 Hounsou debuted in Without You I’m Nothing and went on to roles in Alias, ER and Beverly Hills 90210. After Amistad and Gladiator he starred in Blood Diamond for which he received the Award for Best Supporting Actor from the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Other awards for his performance in Blood Diamond came from the Screen Actors Guild and the Academy.
Most recently Hounsou has taken on the role of Mose Jakande, a Nigerian-French mercenary in Furious 7, the 7th installment of The Fast and the Furious. He played played T'Challa in Black Panther and Korath in both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the sequel What if….?
Lupita Nyong’o was born in Mexico to Kenyan parents. She returned to Kenya with her family when she was a year old and was raised in Kenya. She returned to Mexico at age 16 and then went to college in the United States before beginning her Hollywood career with Fernanco Meirelle’s The Constant Gardner and Mira Nair’s The Namesake. After a stint in Kenya, she studied for her Master’s degree in acting at Yale School of Drama where she won the Herschel Williams Prize for "acting students with outstanding ability"
Nyong’o’s breakout role was that of Patsey in Steven McQueen’s historical drama 12 Years a Slave for which she earned critical acclaim and won a Golden Globe Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, a BAFTA Award and an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her work in that film.
Subsequent work has included roles in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Eclipsed on Broadway, The Jungle Book film, Queen of Katwe, Black Panther, and Little Monsters. Reviews include Roger Ebert who wrote “Nyong'o is phenomenal. She has an incredible ability to convey backstory and David Betancourt who praised Nyong'o for avoiding stereotypical depictions of a black leading lady in Black Panther, writing that she "throws punches, shoots guns and steals hearts in a role she seems born for
Recently Nyong’o became involved with YouTube Originals’ STEM-themed Super Sema, an Africa’s first kid superhero animated series and starred in Simon Kinberg’s spy-thriller The 355. She is currently developing a series based on the novel Americanah and is producing and starring in a film adaptation of Trevor Noah’s memoir Born a Crime. She is also preparing to produce an animated musical based on her best-selling children's book Sulwe for Netflix.