5 International Stars of Yoruba Origin Making Waves in Hollywood

They have made their mark in Hollywood, the world’s leading film industry. And believe it or not, these guys are actually from the Yoruba ethnic group of South-west Nigeria. You might not be wrong to call them mega stars, as they shine on the international movie circuit. IVHARUE OFE writes on 5 big Hollywood stars from Yorubaland, who have made the country proud…

Hakeem Kae-Kazim

Hakeem Kae-Kazim is a Nigerian-born, Hollywood actor best known for his role as warlord and terrorist ‘Colonel Ike Dubaku’ on the television movie 24, Redemption.

Born on October 1, 1962, in Lagos State to Nigerian parents from Abeokuta, Ogun State, Hakeem has appeared in numerous British, American and South African television shows.

He made a notable guest appearance as Emeka in the 5th episode of Season 3 of the television series, Lost and had featured in several hit movies like, Pirates of the Caribbean; At World’s End; Coming to America; Hotel Rwanda; X-Men Origins; Wolverine; The Jinn; Hurricane in the Rose Garden and Big Fellas as well as many TV series including, Law & Order, Criminal Minds amongst others.

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Although, Hakeem, in an interview revealed that he turned down several Nollywood scripts as such scripts did not match his standard, he was however, wooed into featuring in blockbuster Nollywood movies like, Last Flight to Abuja, Black November and Half of a Yellow Sun.

The south-west born star was nominated in the category of Best Supporting Actor at the 2004 Gemini Awards and is a brand ambassador for telecommunications company, Etisalat Nigeria.

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Hollywood actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje was born on August 22, 1967, in Washington, D.C to Nigerian parents of Yoruba origin.

An English actor and former fashion model, he is best known for his roles as Lock-Nah in the Mummy Returns, Nykwana Wombosi in The Bourne Identity, Mr. Eko in Lost, Simon Adebisi on Oz, Heavy Duty in G.I. Joe and the Rise of Cobra.

Akinnuoye-Agbaje was in talks with Marvel Studios to play the superhero Black Panther in a proposed film of the same name. In an interview, he stated his excitement about the possibility, saying that “the timing is so right” for a black superhero.

More recently, he starred as a guest in the second episode of season 8 of Monk, and played Derek Jameson in the 2011 film, The Thing. He portrayed Kurse in the Marvel Studios film Thor: The Dark World, He portrayed Joseph Cinqué in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, and Malko in the fifth season of Game of Thrones.

The South-west-born star is very fluent in the Yoruba Language.

 Richard Ayoade

Richard Ayoade is a British actor born on December 25, 1977, to a Nigerian father and a Norwegian mother.

He is best known for his roles as Dean Learner in Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place and Maurice Moss in The IT Crowd.

Ayoade made his Hollywood debut in 2012 after starring in the comedy, The Watch, alongside Ben Stiller. The talented comedian, actor and writer has written several award-winning stage plays in the UK.

He has also directed films such as Submarine (produced by Ben Stiller), The Double, which stars Jesse Eisenberg, as well as directing various music videos for well known bands such as Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Kasabian. A Law graduate, Ayoade often works alongside Noel Fielding, Julian Barratt, Matt Berry, and Rich Fulcher in shows such as The Mighty Boosh, Nathan Barley, and Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy.

WALE

Olubowale Victor Akintimehin, simply known as Wale is a US Rapper born on September 21, 1984 to Nigerian parents from Ogun State.

He was featured in the “Unsigned Hype” column of The Source Magazine in 2006. His song “Dig Dug (Shake It)” became popular in Washington, D. C, Maryland and Virginia and became the most requested song by a local artist in D. C. radio history.

Wale was also the first local artist to get any BDS spins since DJ Kool in the early 1990s. This Ambition hit maker who visited his motherland, Nigeria, in December 2013, has announced his plans to relocate here permanently. The reason according to the 30-year-old Grammy Award nominee is that he does not get the credit he deserves and is tired of being constantly sidestepped. Moving back would be great for him seeing as he is already making waves in Nigeria.

He has done collaborations with music stars like Wizkid in ‘Nobody But You’ and Olamide in ‘Make Us Proud’.

Wale was nominated for the Best Male Diaspora category in the BET Awards and also Best New Artist.  In 2013 his album was nominated for album of The Year 2010 and he won the Best International Artist Nigeria Entertainment Awards.

Taio Cruz

Believe it or not, Jacob Taio Cruz is of Nigerian heritage. His real name is Adetayo Ayowale Onile-Ere.

He was born on April 23, 1985, in London to a Nigerian father and a Brazillian mother but grew up in the US.

His love for music was evident from his school days and particularly college days, when he began taking his productions and recordings more seriously. Cruz, who started writing songs when he was 12, was signed on a US publishing deal at just 18 years of age.

He began his song-writing career at the age of 19 and has won several awards some of which are: BRIT Awards, Billboard Music Awards, ASCAP Awards and American Music Awards.

Taio Cruz is the founder and C.E.O. of Rokstarr Music London that released his debut single, “I Just want to Know”.

Cruz has worked with Omar, Nitin Sawhney, Wookie and Will Young. The song “Your Game”, co-written by Taio with Will Young and Blair MacKichan, went multi-platinum and won Best British Single at the Brit Awards.

He is currently working on new music for Britney Spears, Sugababes, Letoya Luckett, Brandy, Justin Timberlake and the Pussycat Dolls, proving how in demand he is, Simon Cowell has hired Taio Cruz to write and produce tracks for Leona Lewis and Shayne Ward.

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