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Happy Independence Day! 18 Black Celebs You May Not Have Known Are of Nigerian Descent

Hollywood is teeming with talented singers, songwriters, actors and other entertainers who have roots in the motherland, specifically Nigeria. In honor of Nigeria’s 59th Independence Day (celebrated 10/1/19), here are a few you should know.

Damson Idris

(Photo: Leon Bennett/WireImage,)

1. Damson Idris: The British television/film actor current stars on the crime drama “Snowfall.” His other TV roles include spots on Netflix series “Black Mirror” and “The Twilight Zone.” His mother is Nigerian.

Omarosa Manigault-Newman

(Photo: Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)

2. Omarosa Manigault-Newman: Manuigault-Newman rose to prominence on NBC’s “The Apprentice” and parlayed that gig into a position with then- presidential candidate Donald Trump. She would later serve in the Trump administration as director of communication for the Office of Public Liaison until her resignation December 2017.

In a 2010 interview with Vibe Magazine, the ex-political aide revealed that her father’s family is Nigerian and her mother is American.

Obba Babatunde

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3. Obba Babatundé: The Emmy-winning actor, whose real name is Donald Cohen, has starred in more than 60 made-for-TV movies, 30 theatrical films and two prime-time series. After learning his Nigerian ancestry, he adopted a name using Yoruba words Obba, for “king”, and Babatundé, meaning “father has returned again.”

Donald Faison

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4. Donald Faison: The New York City native is best known for his role in the 1995 film “Clueless,” as well as his time as Dr. Chris Turk on long-running on ABC sitcom “Scrubs.” He was born to a Nigerian father and an American mother.

Rotimi Akinasho

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5. Olurotimi “Rotimi” Akinasho: The Nigerian-American actor, best known for his role as Andre Coleman on the TV series “Power,” is also a model and recording artist signed to GUnit. He has also enjoyed roles on th Starz series “Boss” and made his silver screen debut in the 2013 film Black nativity. Both of his parents are Nigerian.


(Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images,)

6. Wale: The Washington, D.C.., rapper, born Olubowale Victor Akintimehin, has enjoyed much success since stepping on the music scene in 2006. His third studio album, “The Gifted,” received rave reviews and reached the debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. Akintimehin was also born to Nigerian parents, both from the Yoruba tribe.

Uzo Aduba

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7. Uzo Aduba: Aduba, 38, is an award-winning actress known her role as Suzanne Warren on the popular Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black.” She’s also starred in a number of Broadway plays. Both her parents are of Nigerian (Igbo) descent.

Yvonne Orji

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8. Yvonne Orji: Orji, a Nigerian-American actress, plays best friend Molly on the HBO series “Insecure.” The comedienne is a devout Christian and has spoken openly about her choice to abstain from sex until marriage.


(Photo: Gary Miller/FilmMagic)

9. Sade: The “Sweetest Taboo” singer was born in Ibadan, Nigeria, and later moved to Essex, England where she grew up. The songstress, born Helen Folasade Adu, led a successful career as a musician, songwriter and actress, making chart toppers like “Smooth Operator” and “Paradise.”

John Boyega

(Photo: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage)

10. John Boyega: The British actor splashed onto the silver screen to much acclaim when he starred as Finn in the 2015 movie “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” He also nabbed a role in the 2017 sequel “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Boyega was born in London, England to British Nigerian parents.

David Oyelowo

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11. David Oyelowo: The Nigerian-English actor, who became a naturalized American citizen in 22016, made headlines for his stirring performance as Martin Luther King Jr. in the 2014 film “Selma.” He’s also starred in the movie “Queen of Katwe” and U.K. drama series “Spooks.” Both his mother and father are Nigerian natives.

Chiwetel Ejiofor

(Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

12. Chiwitel Ejiofor: Ejiofor is a writer, actor and director best known for his role as Solomon Northup in the 2103 film “12 Years a Slave.” He most recently gained acclaim for providing the voice of Scar in the live-action remake of “The Lion King.” He was born in London, England, to Nigerian parents.

Megalyn Echikunwoke

(Photo: Slaven Vlasic/WireImage)

13. Megalyn Echikunwoke: The Washington native has starred on shows like the FOX hit “24” and “That 70’s Show.” According to her IMDB page, her father is Nigerian and his father (her granddad) is “a Nigerian tribal leader of the Igbo, which technically makes her African royalty.”

Luvvie Ajayie

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14. Luvvie Ajayi: The Nigerian native is an award-winning author, speaker, and digital strategist who also does comedy. Her debut novel, “I’M JUDGING YOU: The Do-Better Manual” flew off the shelves and onto The New York Times best-seller list.


(Photo: Brian Killian/Getty Images for Pepsi)

15. Jidenna: The “Classic Man” crooner and record producer was born to Nigerian parents and spent part of his childhood Imo State, Nigeria, before moving back to the U.S. He’s currently signed to singer Janelle Monae’s Wondaland Records, and has performed with various other artists like Kendrick Lamar and Roman GianArthur.

Deborah Ayorinde

(Photo: Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)

16. Deborah Ayorinde: The London-born actress has appeared in a number of movies and television shows including “Necessary Roughness,” BET’s “The Game,” and the 2017 film girl’s trip. According to IMDB, Ayorinde and her sisters are the first generation of her family to be born outside of Nigeria.

Cynthia Erivo

(Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

17. Cynthia Erivo: Erivo is a British actress and singer best known for her performance as Celie in the 2015 Broadway revival of “The Color Purple,” for which she won a Tony Award in 2016. She’s set to star in the 2019 film Harriet, where she’ll portray abolitionist Harriet Tubman. She was born to Nigerian parents in South London in 1987.

OG Chijindu

(Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

18. Ogom “OG” Chijindu: Chijindu, who once played for the Los Angeles Temptation of the Legends Football League, is cast member on the popular Vh1 reality series “Basketball Wives.” She’s originally from Nigeria but grew up in Southern California.

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