• 16 International Icons You Probably Didn’t Know They Are from Africa

    16 International Icons You Probably Didn’t Know They Are from Africa

    AFRICA – Several eminent and renowned personalities including singers, actors, musicians, politicians, models, fashion designers and activists around the globe were born in Africa. But later in their course of life and work, while many returned back to their land, the rest of them got settled in domains like US, UK, and Europe. Settling of those famous characters in different parts of the world other than Africa imparted less knowledge about their African origin to the commoners. Below mentioned are 16 such international icons whom you probably didn’t know they are from Africa.

    1. Trevor Noah
    Credits: WBUR

    Trevor Noah is a Johannesburg born South African comedian, actor and television host. He is popular for hosting the American news program ‘The Daily Show’ on Comedy Central. Noah started his career while acting in a South African soap opera. Soon, he stepped into radio comedy shows and started hosting both TV and stage shows. He appeared as a stand-up comedian in several popular shows including ‘The Tonight Show’ and ‘Trevor Noah: The Racist’. In 2016, his autobiography was published as a comic book titled ‘Born a Crime’ and in no time it bagged the #1 New York Times bestsellers. Noah has also been titled as ‘One of the 100 Most Influential People in The World’ by Time magazine.

    2. Iman Abdulmajid

    Credits: Hello Magazine

    The Somali-American fashion model and actress Zara Mohamed Abdulmajid is popularly known as Iman Abdulmajid. Iman started her early career in modeling in the US. Soon she became a muse of brands like Versace and Calvin Klein. Iman also worked for Hollywood films which include the Oscar-winning ‘Out of Africa’. Present-day, the entrepreneur owns her own marque of cosmetics, ‘Iman Cosmetics’ and a fashion brand that is famous for its collection of affordable accessories. Apart from her sterling career, she is also involved in child relief programs like ‘Keep a Child Alive’ and ‘Save the Children’. In 2010, Iman was awarded Fashion Icon lifetime achievement from CFDA for her modeling and humanitarian career.

    3. Lupita Nyong’O

    Credits: Glamour

    Lupita Nyong’O is a Mexica born Kenyan-Mexican actress. She started her career in Hollywood as a production assistant. After graduating from Yale School of Drama, she cast a role in the award-winning film ‘12 Years a Slave’. Nyong’O also showed up in stage shows like ‘Eclipsed’ for which she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best actress in the play. In due course, she performed in various well-acclaimed films like ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Star Wars’ trilogy. Back the stage, Nyong’O is relentlessly fighting for relief campaigns for children and women of Uganda. She is also carrying out conservation and ‘anti-poaching’ drives for elephant and rhinoceros. Nyong’O is crowned with more than 25 awards for her acting career that includes AACTA award and Academy award as well.

    4. Liya Kebede

    Credits: Pinterest

    The model, fashion designer, and actress whom Forbes tagged as The Eleventh Highest-Paid top model in 2007 are Liya Kebede. WHO’s Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child health since 2005, Liya Kebede was born in Ethiopia. During her early modeling years, Kebede was seen on cover pages of Vogue, Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, Revlon and many more. Later in 2011, the supermodel was featured under the tag ‘Unconventional Chic’ by Lacoste. She runs her own fashion designing trademark, Lemlem that upholds and features the traditional Ethiopian knitting for women and children. Kebede is also the founder of the Liya Kebede Foundation that works on eradicating maternal, newborn and child mortality in Ethiopia and the world.

    5. Chipo Chung

    Credits: Twitter

    The Zimbabwean-Chinese actress, an activist was born as a refugee in Tanzania. Her first two years at the refugee camp strongly motivated her mind towards envisaging the theatre as a platform to showcase the political scenario. After her graduation in 2003, Chung performed at political theatres that include ‘Talking to Terrorists’ and ‘Fallujah’. Soon she appeared on TV programs like ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘AD: The Bible Continues’. She is well-known for her title role in films like ‘Sunshine’ and ‘Proof’. Apart from being a member of ICAF, Chung is the co-founder of the charity SAFE-Kenya that develops theatre for social change while focussing on major problems like HIV education.

    6. Edi Gathegi

    Credits: Entertainment Weekly

    Edi Mue Gathegi is a Nigerian born Kenyan American actor. He is known for his roles in films like ‘Twilight’ and ‘X-Men’. In his early ages, Gathegi was more inclined towards playing basketball but a knee injury followed by days of depression landed him into acting classes. Subsequently, with a bachelor’s degree in acting Gathegi began his career in theatres. He has performed various stage shows that list ‘Othello’ and ‘As You Like it’. Gathegi also appeared on TV shows like ‘The Blacklist Redemption’ and ‘StartUp’. Apart from his nominations in Ovation Awards 2011 and Lucille Lortel Awards 2018, he bagged the Drama Desk Award 2018 for his theatre performances along with Sean Carvajal.

    7. Ger Duany

    Credits: Hollywood Reporter

    The self-proclaimed ‘village boy’ Ger Duany is an actor, speaker, and a UNHCR’s goodwill ambassador. Duany led a tough childhood in the refugee camps of Kenya and Ethiopia after being separated from his mother. But his hard work and motivation soon fetched him into modeling and acting. Duany’s film list includes flicks like ‘I Heart Huckabees’ and ‘The Good Lie’. As the producer of the former film wanted someone with first-hand experience of a refugee, Duany’s debut role in the same was of an emigrant. He was also portrayed on the cover of magazines like Heed, Bleu Magazine, and Numero. Being a refugee himself for a long time, Duany helps to spread awareness about the struggles and difficulties of refugees through UNHCR.

    8. Issach de Bankole

    Credits: Wikipedia

    The Ivory Coast-born, Cesar award-winning actor is Issach de Bankole. Though he aspired to be an airline pilot, his master’s degree in acting from Le Cours Simon Paris fetched him into his performing career. He also has a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Paris. He spent his initial days on theatre stages while acting in plays like ‘Quay West’ and ‘La Force Daimer’. Bankole has cast a role in more than 50 films including ‘Black Mic Mac’, ‘Casino Royale’, ‘The Last Witch Hunter’ and ‘The Black Panther’. ‘24’, ‘White Collar’ and ‘The Unit’ are some popular TV shows of Bankole.

    9. John Boyega

    Credits: Vibe

    Born to British Nigerian parents, John Boyega is an English actor recognized for his cast in his debut ‘Attack the Block’ and film trilogy ‘Star Wars’. He started acting at an age as early as nine years. He acted throughout his years in high school and college. Though he was enrolled at the University of Greenwich, Boyega left his degree to focus on acting.  Boyega worked for several films and television drama including ‘Detroit’, ‘Pacific Rim Uprising’, ‘The Circle’, ‘Saturday Night Live’, and ‘Major Lazer’. Boyega received the BAFTA Rising Star Award and Empire Award for Best Male Newcomer in 2015.

    10. Sophie Okonedo

    Credits: Got Celeb

    Born to British Nigerian and Jewish parents in London, Sophie Okonedo is a television, film and theatre actress. Okonedo got her initial training of acting from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She appeared on television screen while casting in dramas like ‘Scream of the Shalka’. ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘The Pandorica Opens’. Okonedo was nominated for Academy Awards for her role in ‘Hotel Rwanda’. Her film career includes films like ‘The Secret Life of Bees’, ‘A Raisin in the Sun’, and ‘Antony and Cleopatra’. She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2010 and the Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2019 for her services to the drama. Okonedo is also the receiver of several honorary awards including Tony award and Black Reel Award.

    11. Idris Elba

    Credits: NME

    The multiple time’s nominees of Golden Globe Award and Primetime Emmy award is the English actor, writer, producer, and musician Idris Elba. Born to West African parents, Elba started his acting career in a TV series, ‘Bramwell’. Subsequently, he gained a lot of momentum in films and drama series like ‘The Wire’, ‘Turn Up Charlie’, ‘The Avengers’ and ‘The Dark Towers’. Elba also made his debut in singing and rapped in several leading albums; few to name are ‘Trust in Me’ and ‘Merry Driismas Holiday Mixtape’. Apart from his honors in drama and films, in 2007 Elba ranked among ‘People’s’ 100 Most Beautiful People in the World and was also appointed the Order of the British Empire in 2016. In 2018, Elba was among the top 50 men who perspired in ‘making London awesome’.

    12. Davis Oyelowo

    Credits: TV Insider

    The Nigerian English American actor and producer Davis Oyelowo were born to Nigerian parents in Oxfordshire, England. He spent his early training days in LAMDA and National Youth Theatre. Soon after, he started appearing on stage shows, films, drama, and voice acting. Some of them to mention are ‘Middle of Nowhere’, ‘United Kingdom’, ‘The Butler’ and ‘Star Wars’. His voice acting includes appearances in drama series like ‘The Mission Song’ and ‘Trigger Mortis’. Oyelowo received the NAACP Image Award for his outstanding contribution in the reel industry and was appointed the Order of the British Empire in 2016. Besides, Oyelowo is an Omoba of the kingdom of Awe, Nigeria.

    13. Danai Gurira

    Credits: Vulture

    American born actress and playwright Danai Jekasai Gurira is known for casting in films like ‘The Walking Dead’, ‘Star Wars’ trilogy and ‘Black Panther’. Born to a couple from Zimbabwe, Gurira owns a degree in master of fine arts from New York after which she focused on playwriting. She made her debut on stage appearance in ‘Joe Turner’s Come and Gone’. Subsequently, she appeared on screen in ‘The Visitor’, ‘Mother of George’, and ‘Restless City’. Gurira was the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador in 2018 and put forward her support for gender equality and women rights. She was endowed with awards like ‘People’s Choice Award’ and ‘Black Reel Award’ among many others.

    14. Richard Ayoade

    Credits: Justdial

    The English comedian, actor, writer, singer, presenter, and director Richard Ellef Ayoade was born to Nigerian and Norwegian parents in London. During his college days, Ayoyade won the ‘Martin Stelle’ prize for play production. Subsequently, he made his appearances in films like ‘The Double’ and ‘The watch’. He hosted and presented several television programs including ‘Travel Man’, and ‘The Crystal Maze’. ‘The Breeders’ and ‘Radiohead’ are few of the music videos directed by Ayoade. Among many others to mention, Ayoyade won the BAFTA award and British Independent Film Awards for his contribution on stage.

    15. Barrack Obama

    Born to Kenyan and US parents, Barrack Obama was the 44th president of the US. After attaining a graduate degree from the Columbia University, he went to the Havard Law School where he was elected the first black president of the Havard Review. He represented the 13th district for three times in the Illinois Senate after which he went for the US Senate. He was elected as the US president in 2009. In the same year, he was enlisted for the Nobel Peace Prize as well. He has also been the Most Admirable Man in America consequently for 11 years.

    16. Dave Matthews

    Credits: NPR

    The two times Grammy Award winner Dave John Matthews is a Johannesburg born singer, actor, songwriter, musician and record label owner. After his graduation, he pursued his interest in music and acting while working for local productions. Consequently, he formed the Davis Matthew Band in 1991. His self-written songs include pieces like ‘I’ll Back You Up’, ‘Recently’ and ‘The Song That Jane Likes.’ Matthews made in appearances in TV shows and theatres like ‘Just Say No’, ‘Half-Wit’, and ‘In The Woods’. Apart from various film and television awards, he was awarded the Grammy award in 1997 and 2001 for the Best Rock Vocal Performance and Best Male Rock Vocal Performance respectively.

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