International Celebrities with Nigerian Origin

“A good child belongs to the father” – African proverb.

No doubt, Nigerians love good things, and they wish every good thing in the world stems from Nigeria. It has become common phenomenon in Nigeria to attribute every black celebrity in the world to a Nigerian root – and try to identify with them (we call it ‘famzing’).
Even when it’s crystal clear that a celeb’s origin is a far cry from Nigeria, they still (whether as a joke or not) find a way to ‘Nigerialize’ such celeb. For example, Nigerians have claimed Ne-yo’s stage name is derived from the Yoruba name ‘Niyi’, and Rihanna’s real name is ‘Rihannatu’.
Below are some of the most popular and some of the most unbelievable international celebrities with Nigerian origin (in no particular order).

Helen Folasade Adu

Helen Folasade Adu, OBE (16 January 1959), better known as Sade Adu, is a Nigerian-born British singer-songwriter, composer, and record producer. She first achieved success in the 1980s as the frontwoman and lead vocalist of the Brit and Grammy Award-winning English group Sade. In 2002, she received an OBE from Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace for services to music, and she dedicated her award to “all black women in England”. In 2012, Sade was listed at number 30 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Women In Music. Sade has a contralto vocal range.

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Tunde Baiyewu

Tunde Baiyewu (born Babatunde Emanuel Baiyewu, 25 November 1968) is a British singer of Nigerian descent and is a member of the easy listening duo, Lighthouse Family. In 2004 he embarked on a solo career, releasing the album, ‘Tunde’ and released his second album in 2013: ‘Diamond in a Rock’.
He is a step-son to the former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo.

Jacob Taio Cruz

Jacob Taio Cruz (born 23 April 1985), known professionally as Taio Cruz, is a British singer-songwriter, record producer, occasional rapper, and entrepreneur. In 2008, he released his debut album ‘Departure’, which he wrote, arranged and produced himself. It achieved initial success in the United Kingdom and earned him a MOBO Award nomination.
Cruz was born in London, to a Nigerian father and a Brazilian mother. He attended Bilton Grange, a private prep school in Rugby, Warwickshire. One of his single, “Dynamite,” topped the charts in a half-dozen different countries.
taio curz

Sophie Okonedo

Sophie Okonedo, OBE (born 1968) is a British actress, who has starred in successful British and American productions. In 1991, she made her acting debut in the British critically acclaimed coming-of-age drama, Young Soul Rebels. She has received an Academy Award nomination for her critically acclaimed role in Hotel Rwanda, a Golden Globe nomination for ‘Tsunami: The Aftermath’, and BAFTA nominations for Criminal Justice and Mrs. Mandela. Her other film roles included ‘Aeon Flux’, ‘Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls’, ‘Dirty Pretty Things’, ‘Skin and The Secret Life of Bees’.
Her father, Henry Okonedo (1939–2009), was Nigerian, and her mother, Joan (née Allman), an Ashkenazi Jew, was born in the East End, to Yiddish-speaking immigrants from Poland and Russia.


Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (born 22 August 1967) is a British actor and former fashion model, best known for his roles as Lock-Nah in ‘The Mummy Returns’, Nykwana Wombosi in ‘The Bourne Identity’, Mr. Eko in ‘Lost’ and Simon Adebisi on ‘Oz’.
Akinnuoye-Agbaje was born in Islington, London. His parents are Nigerian, of Yoruba origin. He has a law degree from King’s College London and a Masters in Law from the University
of London.

Gabriel Imuetinyan “Gabby” Agbonlahor

Gabriel Imuetinyan “Gabby” Agbonlahor (born 13 October 1986) is an English footballer of Nigerian-Scottish heritage who plays for Aston Villa as a forward, and was the team’s interim captain for part of the 2011–12 season. Agbonlahor is a product of Aston Villa’s Academy and has earned three caps for the English national team. He is Aston Villa’s all-time leading Premier League goal scorer.

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David Oyelowo

David Oyelowo is an English actor, born in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, 1 April 1976, to Nigerian parents. He is best known for playing MI5 officer Danny Hunter in the British TV drama series ‘Spooks’ from 2002 to 2004. He had before that appeared in ‘Tomorrow La Scala’ (2002), ‘Maisie Raine  (1998) and ‘Brothers and Sisters’ (1998).
In December 2009 he played the leading role of Gilbert in the BBC TV adaptation of Andrea Levy’s novel ‘Small Island’. In March 2010 he played the part of Keme Tobodo in the BBC’s drama series ‘Blood and Oil’ (a film about Niger-Delta area of Nigeria).

Tinie Tempah

Tinie Tempah (Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu, born 7 November 1988) is an English rapper. He released his first mixtape in 2005; his first album, Disc-Overy, debuted at number one in the UK in October 2010 and was preceded by two British number-one singles. In February 2011, he won a Brit Award for Best British Breakthrough Act.
Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu was born in London, England, on 7 November 1988, and has origins in Ibusa, Delta State, Nigeria.

Enuka Vanessa Okuma

Enuka Vanessa Okuma (born September 20, 1976) is a Canadian actress. She is best known for her work on the TV series Madison, on the TV series Sue Thomas F.B. Eye, and the Nickelodeon teen drama Fifteen. She currently portrays Traci Nash in the Canadian drama Rookie Blue, and is known internationally for portraying the role of Marika Donoso on the seventh season of the Fox series 24.
Okuma is of Nigerian descent. She provided the voice of Lady Une in Gundam Wing, and of Jade in the Canadian animated series War Planets and also in an episode of MythQuest.
Also in 2011, she made her directorial debut in the short film, Cookie, on which she is also credited as writer, actor, and executive producer.

Lemar Obika

Lemar Obika (born 4 April 1978), professionally known simply as Lemar, is an English R&B singer–songwriter and record producer. He was born in Tottenham, North London, England to Nigerian parents of Enugu State, South Eastern Nigeria.
Lemar has had a run of chart success in the United Kingdom, Europe and Australia. He rose to fame after finishing in third place on the first series of British talent show Fame Academy.
Since then, Lemar has had seven top ten UK singles and sold over two million albums. He is seen as one of the most successful artists to come out of a reality TVshow. Lemar has also won two Brit Awards and three MOBO Awards to date and released his fifth studio album in 2012.

Hakeem Kae-Kazim

Hakeem Kae-Kazim (born 1 October 1962) is a British Nigerian actor who is best known for his portrayal of Georges Rutaganda in the 2004 motion picture Hotel Rwanda. He also starred as Colonel Iké Dubaku in season 7 of the Fox television series 24 and the TV film tie-in 24: Redemption.
Also starred in other films like Inale (2010, Nigerian), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007), The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines (2006), Law & Order: SVU, Black Gold, and Half of a Yellow Sun (2013), which is set to be released September, based on the popular Nigerian novel of the same name by Chimamanda Adichie.


Olubowale Victor Akintimehin

Olubowale Victor Akintimehin (born on September 21, 1984), better known by his stage name Wale, a Nigerian American, was born in Northwest, Washington D.C. His parents are of the Yoruba ethnic group of southwestern Nigeria and came to the United States from Austria in 1979.
He rose to prominence in 2006, when his song “Dig Dug (Shake It)” became popular in his hometown. Wale became locally recognized and continued recording music for the regional audience. Producer Mark Ronson discovered Wale in 2006 and signed him to Allido Records in 2007. While signed to that label, Wale released several mixtapes and appeared in national
media including MTV and various urban magazines.

// = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); Chiwetelu Umeadi “Chiwetel” Ejiofor
Chiwetelu Umeadi “Chiwetel” Ejiofor, OBE (born 10 July 1977) is a British actor. He has received numerous acting awards and nominations, including the 2006 BAFTA Awards Rising Star, 3 Golden Globe Awards’ nominations, and the 2008 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor for his performance in Othello.
Ejiofor was born in London’s Forest Gate, to Nigerian parents who belonged to the Igbo ethnic group. His father, Arinze, was a doctor, and his mother, Obiajulu, was a pharmacist.
He has starred in popular films like Dirty Pretty Things (2002), Tsunami: The Aftermath (2006), 2012 (2009), Salt (2010), 12 Years a Slave (2013), and also Half of a Yellow Sun (2013), among many others.
Adetomiwa Edun
Adetomiwa Edun is a Nigerian-born British actor best known for his role as Sir Elyan in the television show Merlin. Edun was born in Lagos, Nigeria, to a Nigerian father and a half-Ghanaian, half-English mother. Edun moved to the United Kingdom at the age of 11.
Edun has also appeared in several television shows. In 2009, he appeared in an episode of The Fixer, before a role in Law & Order: UK as a soldier returning from the war in Afghanistan. During series three of Merlin, Edun appeared as Elyan in three episodes, and was upgraded to a recurring character in series four. Elyan was killed off during the fifth and final series of Merlin in 2012. In 2011, he appeared in two episodes of The Hour as the character Sey, and reprised the role for three episodes in 2012. He is set to play the lead in Anthony Onah’s debut feature, Passengers.
Megalyn Ann Echikunwoke
Megalyn Ann Echikunwoke (born May 28, 1983) is an American actress. She is known for playing Nicole Palmer in the first season of 24 and Isabelle Tyler in The 4400. She plays the role of Carmen in the feature film Fix and Tara Price in CSI: Miami.
Echikunwoke was born in Spokane, Washington, but she was raised on a Navajo Native American Reservation in Chinle, Arizona. She is the daughter of a Nigerian-Igbo father and a German/Scots-Irish American mother.
Rakie Olufunmilayo Ayola
Rakie Olufunmilayo Ayola is a Welsh actress, best known for her role as Kyla Tyson in the BBC medical drama Holby City. She first rose to prominence in the lead role of the 1993 Jeanette Winterson screenplay Great Moments in Aviation. Ayola has worked in theatre, film and television, appearing in a number of Shakespearean theatrical performances, Hollywood films The i Inside and Sahara, and British television shows including Soldier Soldier, EastEnders, Sea of Souls and Doctor Who. She appeared in Holby City from its eighth to eleventh series, from 2005 to 2008, and in 2009 starred in the CBBC musical comedy My Almost Famous Family.
Ayola was born in Cardiff, Wales in May 1968, to a Sierra Leonean mother and a Nigerian father.
Caroline Chikezie
Caroline Chikezie is a British actress, best known for playing Sasha Williams in As If, and Elaine Hardy in Footballers’ Wives.
Chikezie was born in England to Nigerian parents. At fourteen, Chikezie was sent to boarding school in Nigeria in an attempt to make her abandon her dreams to become an actress. She however later pursued her dreams on her return to the UK.
Some of her other film appearances are ‘Aeon Flux’ (2005) as Freya, ‘Eragon’ (2006) as Nasuada, ‘Inale’ (2010) as Inale, etc.
Other notable celebs of Nigerian origin
Some other notable ones are Ty (British rapper), Dayo Okeniyi (played Tresh in Hunger Games), the good old and famous Labi Siffre (British poet, songwriter and musician), Ashley Madekwe (played Ashley in Revenge, ABC’s television series), Hope Olaide Wilson (played Jennifer in the Tyler Perry movie ‘I Can Do Bad All By Myself’), Judith Shekoni (played ‘tour guide’ in Garfield 2 and the Amazon leader ‘Zafrina’ in Twilight: Breaking Dawn), Skepta, JME, and Sneakbo (all English rappers), Hakeem Seriki a.k.a Chamillionaire (American Rapper), Osas Ighodaro (actress, model and humanitarian; appeared on Cadillac Records, Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns, and was Miss Black USA 2010), Adepero Oduye (played Alike in Pariah (2011), Eliza in 12 Years a Slave (2013), etc.), and a whole uncountable others – not forgetting our very own Omotola Jalade and Geneveive Nnaji.
Wow! These guys are too many to count if you’d agree with me. So unfortunate, many are great losses to Nigeria, as many of them deny Nigerian roots.
Against popular stories though, Nas (American rapper) is not Nigerian, and the Williams sisters deny being Nigerians. Hugo Weavings (Agent Smith in Matrix trilogy and Elrond in Lord of the Rings and voice of Megatron in Transformers) has no Nigerian descent, but was born in UCH, Ibadan.

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