Amidst the current debate surrounding the lack of diversity at the Oscars, Nigerians (or actors and actresses of Nigerian descent) have consistently broken racial barriers in Hollywood. As they take the acting world by storm, here are ten Nigerians to take note of in Hollywood.


Uzo Aduba

Aduba gained worldwide attention from her role on Orange is the New Black as Suzanne or “Crazy Eyes.” She won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 2014 and then the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 2015, thus making history for being the first actress to win an Emmy in both comedy and drama genres for one role. Born in Boston, Aduba also beat out Beyonce to win a role in The Wiz Live! as Glenda the Good Witch.

David Oyelowo


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Oyelowo, who was born in Oxford, England, has quickly risen to stardom and has been featured in films such as Lincoln, The Paperboy and The Butler, opposite such stars as Oprah Winfrey and Tommy Lee Jones. He also won the Royal Television Society Award for Best Actor and was also nominated for a BAFTA award.

John Boyega

Author: John Boyega by Gage Skidmore

Author: John Boyega by Gage Skidmore

Born in London, England, Boyega captured the spotlight when he acted in Attack the Blog in 2014, and most notably in Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015, as Finn. He was also cast in Half of a Yellow Sun and Imperial Dreams, and has made appearances in the television series 24: Live Another Day.

Cynthia Erivo

Cynthia_Erivo_CRED_courtesy_of_Cynthia_Erivo.JPG.644x2459_q100Erivo is a British-born singer, songwriter, and actress. Born to Nigerian immigrant parents, she starred as Celie Harris in The Color Purple on both Broadway and at the Menier Chocolate Factory in the West End. She has also played Sister Mary Clarence on the UK Stage version of Sister Act.


Chiwetel Ejiofor


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Ejiofor was born in London, England to Nigerian parents and rose to fame when he was cast in Amistad, produced by Steven Spielberg. Since then, he has acted in Inside Man, American Gangster (both alongside Denzel Washington), 2012, and Half of a Yellow Sun. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his main role in the film 12 Years a Slave.

Adepero Oduye

Kim Wayans and Adepero Oduye in writer/director Dee Rees' Paria Author: Focus Features

Kim Wayans and Adepero Oduye in writer/director Dee Rees’ Paria
Author: Focus Features

Although of Nigerian heritage, Oduye was born in Brooklyn, New York and graduated from Cornell University. She made her Broadway debut in the musical Fela! and featured in the critically acclaimed film Pariah. She also starred in 12 Years a Slave as Eliza and was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.

Sophie Okonedo


Okonedo is a British actress who has appeared in several films such as Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Hotel Rwanda, and The Secret Life of Bees. Most recently, she joined the Broadway cast of A Raisin in the Sun where she plays the role of Ruth Younger, for which she won a Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play.

Dayo Okeniyi


Born in Lagos Nigeria, and partly raised in Indiana and California to a Nigerian father and Kenyan mother, Okeniyi’s claim to fame first came in his role as Thresh in The Hunger Games. He has also starred in Endless Love andTerminator Genysis (2015). He is currently plays a detective on the NBC television series Shades of Blue starring Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liota.

Gbenga Akinnagbe

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Akinnagbe was born in Washington, DC and raised in Maryland. The Nigerian-American has starred in leading TV series such as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Numb3rs, The Wire, The Good Wife, 24: Live Another Day and The Following. He also appeared in the 2009 version of the Taking of Pelhalm 1 2 3. Interestingly, he is also the cousin of Nigerian-American rapper, Wale.

Carmen Ejogo


Born to a Nigerian father and a Scottish mother, Ejogo has played roles in films such as Sparkle and Away We Go. Moreover, she is most famous for playing Coretta Scott King in two movies, Boycott and Selma (2014).