Some of the world’s best actors hail from all over Africa, and bring unique styles and experiences to the screen. Whether they perform more on the continent or internationally, these pros are all stars in their own rights.
*Film credits from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) and award recipients from the “MTV Africa Music Awards” Wikipedia page
Born to a Nigerian dad and Ghanaian mother, Yvonne Okoro grew up in Ghana where she pursued acting from a young age. Her screen debut came in 2002 with “Sticking to the Promise,” but she struck it big with “Beyonce” for both her talent as well as her resemblance to Jackie Appiah. Since then, she’s been in countless other films and has been awarded multiple times, including the 2010 Ghana Movie Award for best actress.
Majid Michel began pursuing acting during secondary school, and demonstrated his enormous talent early on. He’s become a well-known heartthrob, as well as the recipient of the African Movie Academy Award for best actor in a leading role in 2012 for his role in “Somewhere in Africa,” and has received international acclaim for his performances in “Silent Scandals,” “Divine Love,” and “Things We Do For Love,” which put him on the map to start with.
Lupita Nyong’o is a more recent addition to the unofficial African Actress Hall of Fame, bursting onto the scene with her riveting performance in the 2013 hit, “12 Years a Slave.” Before that, she worked primarily in production and stage performance, and secured the role right after graduating from the Yale School of Drama. But it seems now Nyong’o is here to stay, and will continue to make a name for herself!
After a successful stint in TV, John Dumelo made his name in movies with “The King is Mine” in 2008, and has not stopped since. Sharing the stage with others on this list more than once, Dumelo is known for his ability to steal a scene even if he is not the primary character, as well as for his good looks. He is also the recipient of the 2011 Afro Australia Movies and Music Award for Africa’s most outstanding actor, as well as the 2012 African Entertainment Award for best African actor.
Ekeinde is a well-known actress from Nigeria who has been dominating the business for nearly 20 years, starring in more than 300 different productions. Known both for her on-screen work as well as her off-screen humanitarian activities, she got her start in the 1995 movie “Venom of Justice,” directed by Reginald Ebere. From there, she was launched into stardom and starred in well-loved movies such as “Mortal Inheritance,” which won her the THEMA Award for best actress in an English-speaking movie and best actress overall in 1997. Since then, she’s also branched out into music, where she has found success as well.
With a name like Van Vicker (orginally Joseph Van Vicker), it’s no surprise that he’s a movie star. After attending the same secondary school as Majid Michel (former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan also attended the same school at a different time), he began his career as a radio presenter and TV personality. Quickly though, his talents became known and he moved into film, debuting in “Divine Love” alongside Michel. He has continued to find success both on screen with multiple award nominations as well as behind the scenes with his production house, Orange Productions.
A well-known and loved Nollywood actress, Dominic got her start in her first movie in 1998, “A Time to Kill,” which was very well received across Nigeria and the rest of Africa. To date, she’s been in more than 100 productions, and received the African Movie Academy Award for best actress in a leading role in 2012 for “Shattered.” She also received attention for her incredible performance in the much touted 2008 film, “White Waters.”
This star began his career in the 1980s as a actor and model in Paris, where he moved at age 13. Hounsou gained international recognition with several blockbusters, including “Gladiator,” “In America,” and most famously, “Blood Diamond,” and became the fourth African actor to be nominated for the Academy Awards. But perhaps most importantly, he’s also starred in music videos for Paula Abdul and Janet Jackson!
One of the most prolific and recognizable actors around (it’s said by some that he’s more recognizable than Nigeria’s own president!) began his career on the soap opera “Fortunes.” His performance in the 2010 film “The Figurine” earned him the African Movie Academy Award for best actor in a leading role, and he received countless other nominations and awards. Known as an incredible leading man (particularly in romantic roles due to his heartthrob status), Nouah remains one of the most popular actors in Nigeria.
Last but not least, one of the most successful and famous African actresses has to be Charlize Theron from South Africa. She began her rise to fame in the 1990s with international hits “Mighty Joe Young” and “The Cider House Rules,” but really cemented her name as one of the greats in 2003 after winning the Academy Award, Golden Globe, SAG Award, and Silver Bear for best actress for her role in “Monster.” While she worked most of her career in American movies, she maintained South African citizenship and often talks about her roots and background as important to her creative process.
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