Many people fail to realize that more than hand full of world famous celebrities are from Nigeria, you’re surprised? yeah I was too, though most of them were born and bred abroad. With Africa as a whole rapidly gaining recognition across the globe, lot of Nigerians make their way to the forefront and are known for their works in the country, there are many more World famous Nigerian celebrities outside the country who have become very successful in the entertainment industries in America, Europe and beyond. Some of these Nigerians are well known and celebrates in their various fields abroad and at home.
I am not sure most of us know the famous classic man known as ‘Jidenna’ he is a Nigerian (native Igbo)… Yeah! I know, I was shocked too. Jidenna Theodore Mobisson was born on May 4, 1985 in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, to Tama Mobisson, a Caucasian accountant, and Oliver Mobisson, a Nigerian Igbo academic. Jidenna grew up partially in Nigeria, where his father was working as a professor of computer science at Enugu State University. When Jidenna was 6 years old, the family moved back to the United States.
25 World Famous Celebrities You Never Knew Were Nigerians
After a careful study and research, I found out these 25 World famous celebrities you never knew were Nigerians
1. Carmen Elizabeth Ejogo
Carmen Elizabeth Ejogo was born in Kensington, London, England, to a Nigerian father and a Scottish mother. Her television career began in the United Kingdom in the early 1990s, where she presented the children’s series Saturday Disney (1990). Subsequently, she has had an acting career in the United States. She is also involved in the music industry, having collaborated with several artists since the 1990s. She wrote and sang lead vocals on the song “Candles” by English drum and bass DJ Alex Reece.
2. Zain Ejiofor Asher
Zain Ejiofor Asher is a British Nigerian news anchor at CNN International, New York City and younger sister to award winning Hollywood actor Chiwetel Ejiofor. Zain was born and raised in Balham, London Borough of Wandsworth, England, her Nigerian parents moved to the United Kingdom after the popularh Biafra war. She anchors CNN Newsroom on CNN International.
Previously, Asher co anchored CNN Newsroom on CNN America. In 2013, Asher joined CNN as a business correspondent based in New York City. In addition to financial reporting for CNN, she also had a monthly column in Money Magazine.
3. Uzo Aduba
Uzoamaka Nwanneka “Uzo” Aduba is an American actress. She is known for her role as Suzanne “Crazy Eye”. Aduba began earning recognition for her work in 2003, with a performance in “Translations of Xhosa” at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts that won her a Helen Hayes Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Play.
Her Broadway debut was
in 2007 as Toby in “Coram Boy”. Born in Boston, Massachusetts to parents who are from Nigeria.
She grew up in Medfield, Massachusetts, and graduated from Medfield High School in 1999. She attended Boston University, where she studied classical voice and competed in track and field.
4. Dayo Okeniyi
Dayo Okeniyi, funny how his name is been pronounced “Die-o Okay-nii-yii”, he started performing on the stage in elementary school. In 2003, Okeniyi, the youngest of five siblings, moved from Nigeria with his family to the The United States. His father, now a retired customs officer and mother, a British literature teacher, were adamant that their children receive an education in the United States. The Nigerian-American actor, played important role in movies like, The Hunger Games, Endless love, Terminator Genisys and others. Dayo was born in Jos and grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, and has four siblings. His father is a retired customs officer from Nigeria, and his mother is a literature teacher from Kenya. In 2003, he moved with his family to Indiana, United States, from Nigeria and later moved to California. He earned a bachelor’s degree in visual communications at Anderson University (Indiana) in 2009.
5. Nonso Anozie
The 40 years old British actor was born on May 28, 1979 in London, England, of Igbo Nigerian descent and has worked on stage, film, and television.
He is best known for his role as Tank in RocknRolla, Sergeant Dap in Ender’s Game,
Abraham Kenyatta in Zoo, and
Xaro Xhoan Daxos in the HBO television series Game of Thrones. I call him Black Big Igbo.
6. Hope Olaide Wilson
The Black Bold Beautiful Yoruba-British lady was born on August 16, 1985 in the UK as Hope Adjoko Olubunkonla Olaide Wilson. She is an actress and producer, known for Spenser Confidential (2020), Solace (2018) and I Can Do Bad All by Myself (2009). I never she’s Nigerian myself until my research, never can tell what you’ll see in the gift box. Lol
7. Richard Ayoade
Richard Ayoade is a British actor born on 23rd May 1977 to a Nigerian father and a Norwegian mother. The comedian, actor, and writer has written several award-winning stageplays in the UK. He made his Hollywood debut in 2012 after starring in the comedy ‘The Watch,’ alongside Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill. He is best known for his role as the socially awkward IT technician Maurice Moss in Channel 4 sitcom The IT Crowd (2006–2013), for which he won the 2014 BAFTA for Best Male Comedy Performance.
8. Toks Olagundoye
Toks was born in Lagos, Nigeria, grew up spending time in London and her mother’s native Norway as well. But she also spent summers in school in Switzerland in her youth.
Later, she went to boarding school in England for high school and move to the U.S. to attend college. Born 16,
September 1975, Susan is known for her role as Hayley Shipton in Castle and Jackie Joyner- Kersee in the ABC TV sitcom The Neighbors. She has featured in about 40 films and television series, she is the voice Beskha in the video game “Game of thrones”.
The 35 years old beautiful black lady is a British television and theater actress, she’s of the Nigeria Igbo origin born in Plymouth, Devon, England, where she attended Plymouth College Preparatory school followed by the Secondary School Eggbuckland College also in Plymouth, best known for playing the role of Aya Al-Rashid in The CW vampire series The Originals and Abigail Naismith in both parts of the Doctor Who Christmas special, “The End of Time”.
10. Sophie Okonedo
Sophie Okonedo CBE is a British film, theatre, television actress and singer. Born 11th August, 1968 in London, United Kingdom, the daughter of Joan (née Allman), a Jewish pilates teacher who was born in the East End of London, and Henry Okonedo (1939–2009), a British Nigerian who worked for the government. Okonedo’s maternal grandparents, who spoke Yiddish, were from families that had emigrated from Poland and Russia. Okonedo was raised in her mother’s Jewish faith. When she was five years old, her father left the family and she was brought up in relative poverty by her single mother (“but we always had books”, she has said). She began her film career in the British coming-of-age drama Young Soul Rebels before appearing in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls and Stephen Frears’s Dirty Pretty Things. She was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Supporting Actress for her role as Tatiana Rusesabagina in Hotel Rwanda 2004 and nominated for a Golden Globe Award for a Lead Actress in a Miniseries for her work in Tsunami: The Aftermath 2006.
11. Hakeem Kae-Kazim
Hakeem Kae-Kazim is a British-Nigerian actor, born in Lagos, Nigeria and a native of Ogun State. He has featured in popular movies such as ‘Hotel Rwandan,’ ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ ‘At World’s End and many TV series including 24, and Criminal Minds. He has also featured in some Nollywood movies like ‘Last Flight To Abuja,’ ‘Black November‘ and ‘Half Of A Yellow Sun.’ Kae-Kazim is an appointed global ambassador for Africa 2.0, a civil society organisation providing a platform for emerging and established African leaders to drive forward the transformation of Africa.
12. Jacob Taio Cruz
English Singer, Jacob Taio Cruz was born in London, popularly known as Taio Cruz. The British- Nigerian singer, rapper, record producer and song writer began his musical journey at a very early age. With a gifted singing voice and learning to play the piano by ear, he possessed a natural skill and affinity for creating music. His father is Nigerian while his mother is Brazillian. Cruz was signed on a publishing deal when he was 19 years old and has won several awards including the BRIT Awards, Billboard Music Awards, ASCAP Awards and American Music Awards.
13. Adetomiwa Edun Babatunde
Tomiwa Edun is Nigerian-British actor, born in Lagos, Nigeria, his father financier Olawale Edun and half-Ghanaian, half-English mother (Amy Adwoa née Appiah). He moved to the United Kingdom at young age, He attended Eton College from the age of 13, before reading Classics at Christ’s College, Cambridge (University of Cambridge). He has featured in series and movies like Merlin, Lucifer, In the cloud, Banana island ghost, what happened to Monday and Cinderella among others. In 2009, Edun became only the second black actor to play Romeo at the Globe Theatre. Edun performed motion capture and voiced the role of Alex Hunter in the video game by EA Sports, FIFA 17, and reprised his role in the sequels FIFA 18 and FIFA 19.
14. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Akinnuoye-Agbaje was born in Islington, London, to Nigerian parents of Yoruba origin, who were students in the UK. When he was six weeks old, his biological parents gave him up to a white working-class family in Tilbury, Essex His foster parents had at least ten African children, including Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s two sisters, living in their house at certain points. His foster father made a living as a lorry driver and struggled to support the family financially. His modelling career led him to Hollywood, where he began his acting career with a 1995 role in Congo.Former fashion model and Hollywood is best known for his roles in ‘The Mummy Returns‘, ‘Pompeii,’ ‘The Bourne Identity‘, and in TV series ‘Lost‘ and ‘Oz‘. He was born in Washington, D.C to Nigerian parents and is fluent in Yoruba, Italian and Swahili, aside English language.
Olubowale Victor Akintimehin (aka Ralph Folarin) born September 21, 1984 in Northwest, Washington, D.C known by his stage name ‘Wale’ is a American-Nigerian rapper, singer and song writer. His parents were both from the Yoruba ethnic group of southwestern Nigeria, and both of them came from Austria to the United States in 1979. He first rose to prominence in 2006, when his song “Dig Dug (Shake It)” became popular in his hometown. Currently signed to Maybach Music Group founded by the legend America rapper Rick Ross. He has featured enormous artist home and abroad, example Usher, Rick Ross, Meek mill, Olamide, Kanye West, Wizkid among others. The Maybach Music superstar, Wale, last visited his motherland in February 2016.
Chikezie was born in England to Nigerian parents of Igbo origin. At fourteen, Chikezie was sent to boarding school in Nigeria in an attempt to make her abandon her dreams to become an actress. she enrolled into Brunel University where she studied Medicinal Chemistry (she was expected to take over her father’s hospital in Nigeria), but dropped out of school. She later won a scholarship to the UK’s Academy of Live and Recorded Arts. She has featured in over 30 movies and TV series abroad, example is Mayhem (2007), As if (2001- 2004) among others.
17. David Oyelowo
David Oyelowo was born in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, to Nigerian parents. His father is from Oyo State, Western Nigeria while his mother is from Edo State, Southern Nigeria. He began his stage career in 1999 when he was offered a season with the Royal Shakespeare roles in Ben Jonson’s Volpone, as the title character in Oroonoko (which he also performed in the BBC radio adaptation) and Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra (1999) alongside Guy Henry, Frances de la Tour and Alan Bates. He has received enormous awards for his acts, he received an award for his portrayal of Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Oyelowo received the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture. He received his first Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, while also receiving a nomination for Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Actor. Featured in movies like Queen of katwe (2016), Gringo (2018), Captive (2015), A United America (2016) and post-production like The eternal (2021), The midnight sky (2021) among others.
18. John Boyega
Boyega was born on 17 March 1992 in Peckham, London, England, to British-Nigerian parents, Abigail (née Aboderin), who works with the disabled, and Samson Adegboyega, a Pentecostal minister. His first role was a leopard in a play at his primary school, funny right? He has featured in majir screens like Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Half of a Yellow Sun, Pacific Rim: Uprising, Star Wars: The Force Awakens as so many more.
He is popularly known as Rotimi, he’s a Nigerian-American actor, model and a virtuous singer. He is popularly know for his role as Andre Coleman on the Hit breaker series ‘Power’ and as Darius Morrison on the Starz series Boss. He also featured in movies like Coming to America, Deuces, Black Nativity and so on. Rotimi as contemporary R&B artist, Rotimi released two digital mixtapes, titled The Resume (March 8, 2011) and While You Wait (November 30, 2011). His videos have been featured on international and U.S. based entertainment media including MTV, MTV Base, and VH1 Soul. He is featured on hit singles home and abroad, currently signed to G- unit Records, an American record label owned by Universal Music Group. Founded by the Famous rapper 50 cent. Rotimi is in relationship with the famous Tanzanian black beauty ‘Vanessa Mdee’
20. Chiwetel Ejiofor
Ejiofor was born in London’s Forest Gate, to upper middle-class Nigerian parents of Igbo descent. His father, Arinze, was a doctor, and his mother, Obiajulu, was a pharmacist. His younger sister is CNN correspondent Zain Asher previously mentioned above.
Ejiofor began acting in school plays at his junior school, Dulwich Prep London (known at the time as ‘Dulwich College Preparatory School’), where he played the gravedigger in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. He continued acting at his senior school, Dulwich College and joined the National Youth Theatre.
The Nigerian English actor, writer and director is renowned for his portrayal of Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave (2013), for which he received Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations, along with the BAFTA Award for Best Actor. He is also known for playing Okwe in Dirty Pretty Things (2002), the Operative in Serenity (2005), Lola in Kinky Boots (2005), Luke in Children of Men (2006), Dr. Adrian Helmsley in 2012 (2009) and Dr. Vincent Kapoor in The Martian (2015). I can apparently go on and on with his biographies but I won’t finish in an hour time, he is really a man of honor.
21. Nnamdi Asomugha
Nnamdi Asomugha is a Nigerian-American actor, producer and former American football cornerback. He played college football for the University of California, Berkeley, and was drafted in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. He’s the reason Nigerians refer to Kerry Washington as “our wife” because she’s married to him
22. Forest Whitaker
Forest Whitaker is an American actor, film director and producer. His ancestors comes from Nigeria. His father’s ancestors were traced back to Igbo tribe in Nigeria. Specifically, his forefathers were from village of Nkwere.
Forest Whitaker, is known for his role as the dictator of Idi Amin of Uganda in the 2006 film The Last King of Scotland. He has starred in several films such as Bird, The crying Game, Platoon, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, The Great Debaters, The Butler and Arrival.
23. Dele Alli
Bamidele Jermaine Alli (born 11 April 1996) is a Nigerian and an English football player who plays in the EPL for Tottenham Hotspurs. Dele Alli is widely known for his youthful vigour and versatility on the pitch. The 24 years old Spur star is one of the central players in the Jose Mourinho led Spurs side. Since he joined Tottenham Hotspur in 2015, Alli’s performance has earned him great public acclaim as the young player is one of several young stars in the EPL who dazzle fans.
24. Adepero Oduye
Next on the list is Adepero Oduye, she is an American actress, director, singer and also a writer.
Oduye’s breakout role came in 2011 when she starred in Dee Rees’ critically acclaimed and award-winning independent film Pariah, for which she received several awards and a nomination for Best Female Lead at the Independent Spirit Awards.
25. Tyler the Creator
Another Nigerians making big waves in entertainment is Tyler Gregory Okonma, better known by his stage name Tyler is born to a Nigerian father and a African American root. Tlyer the Creator is an American rapper, songwriter, record producer, musician, graphic designer, music video director, and actor from California.
Meanwhile, we know that the list of the famous celebrities whose origin can be traced back to Nigeria is countless, so for this reason I implore you to add as many as you’re sure of using the comment box below.
Thanks for reading, I am proud to be a Nigerian (smiles).