Hollywood is the dream place to be for many actors and actresses in the country and across the globe, , this is where the vision of being the best in acting becomes a reality.
It represents the dreams of aspiring stars, including rising African stars where acting prowess is harnessed and polished to match international standards. It is indeed the pinnacle of success in the entertainment and film industry.
Whereas thousands of actors cherish the dream of making it in Hollywood, only a few succeed. The odds of breaking into the industry are really slim. It often takes great talent, commitment, dedication and a bit of luck to break in.
Interestingly, there are many successful African actors in Hollywood. Although barely 2% of actors make a living from this art, African actors have achieved fame in this difficult industry. Here are some of the African actors and actresses who have made a career in the entertainment and film industry featuring on major screens and different media streaming platforms across the continent.
Chiwetel Ejiofor – Nigeria
This Nigerian actor has starred in the widely acclaimed “12 Years a Slave” where he played the role of Solomon Northup which he received nominations for a Golden Globe as well as an Academy Award.
The actor began participating in school productions at the age of 13. He later joined the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. Some of his leading roles include Okwe in “Dirty Pretty Things” and Luke in “Children of Men”.
Other notable films include Deadly Voyage, mistad, G.M.T Greenwich Mean Time, Dirty Pretty Things, Twelfth Night, Love Actually, She Hates Me, Red Dust, Melinda and Melinda, Four Brothers, Serenity, Slow Burn, Kinky Burns, Inside Man, Children of Men, Tsunami: The Aftermath, Talk to Me, American Gangster, Salt, Twelve Years a Slave, and Half of a Yellow Sun among others. He has several nominations and international awards for his roles.
Majid Michel is a Ghanaian pastor and actor. He received nominations for Best Actor in a Leading Role at the Africa Movie Academy Awards in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2017.
He eventually won the award in 2012 after three previous consecutive nominations.
He has appeared in quite a number of films which include:
- Things We Do For Love,
- Agony of Christ,
- Somewhere in Africa,
- Evil Doctor’s Do
- The Game
- Bursting Out
- 4 Play
- 4 Play Reloaded
- A Sting in a Tale
- Silent Scandals (2009)
- Passion of the Soul
- Crime to Christ
- Royal Battle
- Divine Love
- Guilty Pleasure (2009)
- Tears of a Womanhood
- St. Michael
- Shattered Mirror
- Save the Prince
- The Beast
- Royal Madness
- Her Excellency
- Reason to Kill
- Blood of Fire
- Final Crisis
- Under the Sky
- The Three Widows
- Professional Lady
- House of Gold (2013)
Edi Gathegi, Kenya
The prolific actor from Nairobi, Kenya, has been active in the film and TV industry since 2006. Gathegi has starred in a number of Hollywood movies and series, including Twilight, X-Men: First Class, Beauty and the Beast, Nikita, My Bloody Valentine, The Fifth Patient, and Lincoln Heights amongst other films.
Fans of the medical TV show “House” will remember Edi Gathegi as the Mormon intern Dr. Jeffrey Cole. Another of Gathegi’s most outstanding roles was that of Cheese in the film “Gone Baby Gone” which was released in 2007.
Lupita Nyong’o, Kenya
Lupita is one of the most successful Kenyan actresses in Hollywood. She is known for her roles in 12 Years a Slave, Black Panther, Us, Queen of Katwe, The Jungle Book, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Lupita Nyong’o also became the first Kenyan ever to win an Oscar for her supporting role in the movie 12 Years a Slave.
Peter Mensah, Ghana
Mention the name of this well-known actor and several of his iconic roles spring to mind. These include General Joe Grellar in “The Incredible Hulk’’ and Cyrill The Butler in “Harvard Man”. Mensah is also known for his roles in “Tears of the Sun” and “Hidalgo”.
He is an engineer by profession but emigrated to Canada to pursue his acting dream. He began his career when he played a role in an episode of “Nancy Drew” in 1995. His big break came with a performance in “Tears of the Sun” in 2003.
Boris Kodjoe, Ghana
Boris is among the most famous male African actors today. In 2002, People’s Magazine named him one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world.
Kodjoe is famous for his role in the long-running series “Soul Food” and the film “Brown Sugar”. In 2018, he joined the cast of ABC’s “Station 19”, a spin-off of Grey’s Anatomy where he plays the part of Captain Robert Sullivan. Other movies and TV series include Surrogates, Resident Evil: Retribution, Resident Evil: Afterlife, The Gospel, Evil Goes Global, and House of Cards.
Benjamin Onyango, Kenya
One of the busiest African actors in Hollywood is Benjamin Ochieng. He has appeared in such notable productions as “God’s Not Dead” and “Tears of the Sun”. Ochieng was born in the Eastlands suburb of Nairobi and later relocated to the United States to pursue further studies.
When he graduated, he embarked on a study of music which happened to be his first love. However, he also took acting lessons. His foray into acting began with periodic appearances on television series such as the soap “General Hospital”. Later, he broke into film-making and has been enormously successful.
Prince David Osei, Ghana
Prince David is among the best black male actors in Ghana. He is an actor, model, producer, director, and philanthropist.
Osei abandoned his banking career to follow his dream of becoming an actor. This talented celebrity is known for his role as Sergeant Daniel Dembele in “The Dead”. This is a zombie film that was released in 2010.
David is also known for movies like Flight by Night, and Merciful Heart.
Charlize Theron, South Africa
Charlize Theron is one of the best-known actors from Africa. The award-winning actress started as a model before finding her way to Hollywood.
She is now one of the richest and most famous African actors in Hollywood, with an approximate net worth of $170 million in 2022. She has been featured in a number of popular movies, including Monster, The Devil’s Advocate, Mighty Joe Young, Cider House Rules, Prometheus, Sleepwalking, and 15 Minutes just to mention a few.
Adhir Kalyan, South Africa
Kalyan is best known for his role as Timmy in “Rules of Engagement”. He participated in productions of classics such as “Macbeth” and “Oliver Twist”. Kalyan credits include the roles of Raja in the series “Aliens in America” and Paul Blart in “Mall Cop”.
He has also featured in Holby City, Up in the Air, and Youth in Revolt among others.
This list is not exhaustive and not arranged in order as there are many more successful African actors with significant contributions to the film industry.
The Hollywood dream may appear unattainable. However, the experiences of the above African actors in Hollywood show that no dream is impossible. They prove that no matter your background, with determination you can overcome unsurmountable odds and make it to the top.