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Top 5 Nigerian Movie Stars That Have Made Their Mark Globally
Nollywood is 100% Nigerian, but that doesn’t mean that the films country are recognised only within the state borders of Nigeria. It is a well known fact that Nigerian cinema is popular throughout the continent and beyond. A lot of films, such as 4 Play, 30 Days in Atlanta, Fifty and Ijé were very popular not only throughout cinemas in Nigeria but all over Africa and the rest of the world. But, Nollywood isn’t Nigeria’s only contribution to the world of cinema. There are quite a few British and Hollywood actors and actresses that are actually Nigerian. Here we present you 5 most popular Nigerian actors and actresses, both ones that starred in Nollywood movies, but also few that have appeared in foreign films.
Chiwetel Ejiofor is an actor who hails from England, he was born there. But both of his parents were Nigerian and therefore we can rightfully say that he is one of the Nigerians who made it in the acting world. He started acting at 14 in school plays and later he joined the National Youth Theatre. Later he was selected and was given a role in Spielberg’s very popular movie Amistad. Later, he played the role of Othello in 1995 and 1996. He then went on to appear in a number of popular films, television films and theatre plays. In 1999 he starred in a popular British film – Greenwich Mean Time and next year he appeared in Rome and Juliet for which he received a Jack Tinker Award. In 2002 he won the British Independent Film Award for Best Actor, for his role in Dirty Pretty Things.
He appeared alongside Hilary Swank and other famous actors and actresses. He also received many significant awards and was nominated on multiple occasions. He won a Golden Globe for his role in Kinky Boots and was nominated for the BAFTA Orange Rising Star Award. Ejiofor was knighted and received his OBE in 2008. He also starred in 2012, together with John Cusack and the film grossed over $700 million, becoming one of the highest grossing films in history. Out of his many other appearances, the role of Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave has to be mentioned. Ejiofor has been involved in charity work throughout Africa and especially in Nigeria and is a good friend of Benedict Cumberbatch and Idris Elba.
Uzoamaka Nwanneka Aduba, known as Uzo Aduba is a famous actress, born in Boston to Nigerian parents. She received worldwide recognition for her appearance in Orange is the New Black as Suzanne Warren. One curious fact is that she is the first and so far only actress that won an Emmy Award both in the comedy and drama genre for the very same role. She won the Comedy Award in 2014 and the Drama Award in 2015. Aduba is very proud of her Nigerian Igbo origins and her name and has stated that should never change it. Aduba hasn’t appeared in many films or plays, but it is clear that there’s a bright acting future ahead of her, despite the fact that she’s in her thirties.
Unlike the two famous stars above, Genevieve Nnaji achieved fame in Nigeria first, before becoming popular throughout Africa. She was born in Mbaise, Imo State, but spent most of her youth living in Lagos. She began acting in 1987, when she was only 8. Oprah Winfrey called her the Julia Roberts of Africa on one occasion. Nnaji has already starred in dozens of Nigerian Nollywood films and she has no intention of stopping. She has played in films alongside famous Nigerian as well as International movie stars, such as Sharon Stone in Sharon Stone in Abuja. Nnaji starred in hit films such as Ijé and 30 Days. She won the Africa Movie Academy Award in 2005, for Best Leading Female Role. For her acting contribution Nnaji received the Nigerian Order of the Federal Republic.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje was born in London’s Islington, to Nigerian parents. Akinnuoye-Agbaje fluently speaks several languages other than English, including Yoruba. At the age of 8 he was brought back to Nigeria, but since at that time he still couldn’t speak Yoruba, he then returned to England. He is famous for his roles in The Mummy Returns, The Bourne Identity, Lost and Game of Thrones. He’s first appearance was in 1995. That year he had a role in popular Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. His portrayal of Lock-Nah in The Mummy Returns made him popular worldwide and lot of people remember him as Mr Eko in the iconic Lost series.
Desmond Elliot is one of the most prolific Nollywood actors. He has already starred in more than 200 films and has appeared in several TV series and shows. In addition to his acting career, he is also known for his political endeavours, as he was selected in Lagos State House of Assembly in 2015. Elliot has won several awards for his work, including an Africa Magic Viewers' Choice Award. He may not be the best actor in Nigeria, but he is quite well-known both in the country and in all of Africa, due to the number of films in which he appeared.