Entertainment of 2014-07-06

Nigerians making waves in Hollywood

They are Nigerians and they are world class entertainers. From movies, to art and music, these Nigerians are forces to be reckoned with in their various choices of career. DOYIN ADEOYE writes about Nigerians making waves in Hollywood.
Chiwetel Ejiofor: A renowned British actor of film, television and theatre, Chiwetel Ejiofor was born in July 1977 in London to Nigerian parents. He gained a scholarship to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art after he enrolled at the National Youth Theatre in 1995 and by age 19, and only three months into his course, Chiwetel was chosen by Steven Spielberg to play a small part in Amistad as James Covey. His archive of awards and nominations include the BAFTA Orange Rising Star Award in 2006, five Golden Globe Award nominations and the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor for his performance in Othello in 2008.
Megalyn Echikunwoke: MEGALYN Ann Echikunwoke was born in Washington, United States. She is an actress best known for her roles as Tara Price in CSI: Miami and Isabelle Tyler on The 4400. Her father is a Nigerian Igbo, while her mother is a German/Scots-Irish American. She has featured in many movies and TV series and she is a regular face for many movie lovers. Some other popular movies and TV series that Megalyn had featured in include Funny Valentines, Like Family, ER, That ‘70’s Show, Spyder Games and as Senator David Palmer’s daughter, Nicole, in 24, among a whole lot of others.
Hakeem Kae-Kazim: Having started acting as far back as the 1980s, Hakeem Kae-Kazim is a British Nigerian actor that many Nigerians are so proud of. Born in October 1962, Hakeem is best known for his role as Georges Rutaganda in the 2004 motion picture Hotel Rwanda. His achievements cannot be overrated and to name a few, the movies he had featured in include Coming To America, King Solomon’s Mines, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, The Fourth Kind, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Last Flight to Abuja, among others. Hakeem Kae-Kazim is a recipient of many awards.
Ashley Banjo: BORN in London to a Nigerian father and an English mother, Ashley Modurotolu Banjo is an English street dancer, television presenter, chorographer and an actor. The 26-year-old is the leader of the dance troupe, Diversity, which won the third series of the Britain’s Got Talent show. A resident judge on the talent show Got to Dance, Ashley grew up in Wickford, Essex, and, according to him, “from the age of 14, I started to teach myself routines.” Ashley Banjo is an official ambassador of the United Dance Organisation and his dance troupe, Diversity, performed before Queen Elizabeth at the Royal Variety Show in 2009. He has featured in many movies such as Street Dance.
Obba Babatundé: A veteran entertainer, Babatunde has been in Hollywood as long as many could remember. From his recurring roles on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, to Undercover Blues, Chicago Hope, Static Shock, he is a talent that has withstood the foreign entertainment scene for decades. Born in December 1951 in Jamaica, Queens, New York, United States, Babatunde is a dancer, singer and plays different instruments. He is also a director and he directed a highly acclaimed version of the Broadway Musical, Dreamgirls, which featured Carolyn Blair, in Ohio during the late 80s. He is also known for his role in the movie, Once in a Lifetime, a world premiere musical at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego.
Sophie Okonedo: SOPHIE Okonedo began her film career in 1991. She was born in London in 1968 to an Ashkenazi Jew mother and a Nigerian father, Henry Okonedo. Sophie had worked in such a wide variety of media, including film, television, theatre and audio drama that trying to list the number of movies she has featured in could be a hard task. To name a few, she played the role of Tulip Jones in the film Storm Breaker and Wachati Princess in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. Sophie was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Supporting Actress in 2004 for her role as Tatiana Rusesabagina in Hotel Rwanda and also nominated for a Golden Globe for a Lead Actress in a mini-series for her work in Tsunami: The Aftermath. She acted alongside Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys and Dakota Fanning in the film The Secret Life of Bees, while she portrayed Winnie Mandela in the BBC drama, Mrs Mandela in January 2010.