16 Famous Hollywood Actors With African Roots

By: Philip Etemesi | 1 Month(s) ago

America is called the land of opportunity and Hollywood is no different.

Actors with different roots from all over the world have made a name for themselves in America’s film industry. But which Hollywood actors have African roots? The following do.

1. Peter Mensah.

Mensah was born in Accra, Ghana in 1959. You probably know him as ‘Doctore’ the strict gladiator trainer in the series Spartacus. Or as the blood-thirsty general in ‘Tears of The Sun.’ He also appeared in 300 and Avator as well as numerous other films.

peter mensah

Image: pinterest


2. David Oyelewo.

David was born in Oxfordshire, England, to Nigerian parents. his highest-profile role to date was as Martin Luther King Jr. in the American biographical drama film Selma (2014).He has also played supporting roles in the films Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Middle of Nowhere, Lincoln and garnered praise for portraying Louis Gaines in The Butler.


Image: Information Nigeria


3. Barkhad Abdi.

He is best known for playing a Somali pirate leader in the movie Captain Philips. Due to his incredible performance in the film, he was nominated for an Oscar. Abdi was born in Mogadishu, Banaadir. Around the age of six or seven, when the Somali Civil War broke out, he and his family moved to Yemen to join his father, who had taken up teaching. In 1999, Abdi and his family relocated to the US.

barkhad abdi

Image: Star Tribune


4. Edi Gathegi.

He was born in Eastlands, Nairobi, Kenya but grew up in Albany, California. He is best known for his appearance in the Twilight vampire films and has also been a recurring character in NBC’s television series, The Blacklist as Matias Solomon, an operative for a covert organization.

edi gathegi

Image: Hot Secretz


5. Djimon Honsou.

Djimon was born on April 24, 1964 in  Cotonou, Bénin.  He later moved to France with his parents at the age of thirteen. His most famous roles are Juba in Gladiator and Solomon Vandy in Blood Diamond for which he received numerous awards and nominations, including two Oscar nominations.

djimon honsou

Image: Stargate Wiki


6. Boris Kodjoe.

He was born in Austria to a Ghanaian physician. Kodjoe is perhaps best known as one of the seven regular cast members from the drama Soul Food and the comedy series, Real Husbands of Hollywood.


Image: Star tribune


7.  Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.

Akinnuoye-Agbaje was born in Islington, London, to Nigerian parents of Yoruba origin, who were students in the UK.  He is best known for his roles as Malko in Game Of Thrones (Season 5). Lock-Nah in The Mummy Returns, Nykwana Wombosi in The Bourne Identity, Mr. Eko on Lost, and Simon Adebisi on Oz.


Image: Indie Wire


8. Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Ejiofor was born in London to Nigerian parents of Igbo origin. His father, Arinze, was a doctor, and his mother, Obiajulu, was a pharmacist. He is best known for his role as Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave for which he received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations, along with the BAFTA Award for Best Actor.


Image: Sun city


9. Benjamin Ochieng.

Ochieng was born in Nairobi but moved to the US at a young age. . His major roles in film are in the films Inception which also starred Leonardo Di Carprio, American Crude, The Disciple, and The Anatolian and Tears of the Sun. He has also appeared in aa number of TV series including X-Files,  The Terminal, and The Shield.

benjamin ocheing actor

Image: EW


10. Idris Elba.

Perhaps the most successful of them all. Idris was born in London to a Sierra Leonean father and a Ghanaian mother. Elba has had major roles in films such as American Gangster, Takers, Thor, Prometheus, Pacific Rim, Thor: The Dark World and Beasts of No Nation for which he received BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actor), and Star Trek Beyond.

Image: courtesy


11. Abraham Attah.

The 15-year old Ghanaian actor made his feature film debut in Beasts of No Nation. For his leading role of child soldier Agu. He is currently living in the USA for his career and education and is set to appear in the upcoming Spiderman movie.

Image: EW


12. Thandie Newton.

Newton was born in the UK to an English father and a Zimbabwean mother.  She has appeared in the popular series Westworld as well as movies such as Mission Impossible 2 alongside Tom Cruise and The Pursuit of Happiness alongside Will Smith. She has received a number of awards, including a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role in the film Crash.

thandie newton

Image: Indie Wire


13. Michael Blackson.

Blackson was born in Ghana but he moved to the US at the age of 15. His most notable performance was in the movie Next Friday which also starred Ice Cube. He has also done various comedy skits and appeared in numerous advertisement.

michael blackson

Image: Complex


14. Charlize Theron.

Charlize was born in South Africa but while she was a teenager, her parents moved to Italy the to The US where she developed her acting career. She won an Oscar for her performance as Aileen Wuornos in the movie Monster.  She has also appeared in notable films such as Mad Max: Fury Road, Hancock, The Devil’s Advocate and The Italian Job.

charlize theron

Image: Pinterest


15. John Boyega.

Boyega was born in London to Nigerian parents. His most notable role has been in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie where he played Finn. He also appeared in the film adaptation of Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book Half of a Yellow Sun.

john boyega

Image: comic book movie

16. Lupita Nyongo.

Does she need any introduction? I don’t think so.

Image: Vogue

Indeed, Africa has too much talent. You might also want to check out these photos of Lupita Ny’ongo that prove black is beautiful. 


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