These 12 Hollywood Actresses Hail from Africa

The Oscars are HERE and there are quite a few black actresses who are making dynamic waves in the U.S. movie scene with their black girl magic! Did you know that some of your (and our) faves are actually African?

Let’s celebrate these African actresses taking the Hollywood scene by storm, one movie and TV show at a time!

  1. Gabourey Sidibe (Senegal)

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Gabourey Sidibe, known affectionately as Gabby, rose into prominence for her captivating and soul searching role in Precious alongside veteran actress and comedian Mo’Nique.

Gabby’s father hails from Senegal, in the west of Africa, where the melanin is poppin! You can watch Gabby on the hit TV show, Empire, or read her best selling book, This is Just My Face. Sidibe also has a recurring role on The Big C, a Showtime series, where she plays the character “Andrea.” 

2. Issa Rae (Senegal)

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Issa Rae is the embodiment of every black awkward girl and has built a career around this. First with her YouTube series, Awkward Black Girl, which launched her career with HBO where she currently writes, stars, and directs the award winning TV show, Insecure.

Issa Rae’s father also hails from Senegal and I am starting to think that the Senegalese women need to launch a skin care regime, because Issa Rae and her people’s skin are always glowin’ and poppin’!

You can catch Issa on the upcoming film, Little alongside Marsai Martin and Regina Hall. You can also visit her website to see what other projects she has cooking!

3. Lupita Nyong’o (Kenya)

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This is the name that has been shining bright like a diamond and we wouldn’t have it any other way! Born in Mexico to Kenyan parents, Lupita identifies as Kenyan-Mexican and holds dual citizenship for both countries.

Lupita rose to prominence after her breakout Oscar award winning performance in 12 Years a Slave, making her the first African to win the award. Since then, Lupita has been gracing us with her effortless beauty on covers of magazines as well as on our TV screens and we are here for all of it!

In March, she returns to the big screen as the female lead in Jordan Peele’s Us

4. Danai Gurira (Zimbabwe)

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Danai Gurira puts the Kick in Kick Ass, because almost every role she takes on she is doing just that! You have seen her as Okoye in Black Panther and Michonne in the Walking Dead just to give you an idea of how bad ass this woman is.

Her parents moved to the United States from Zimbabwe and though she was born in the U.S, she speaks 4 languages, one of them being her native Zim tongue Xhosa, and does a lot of philanthropic work around Africa.   

According to reports, The Black Panther star will depart the AMC zombie drama, The Walking Dead which helped her skyrocket to fame, in season 10.

5. Liya Kibede (Ethopia)

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Born and raised in Ethiopia, this Supermodel and actress is not only stunningly beautiful, but she has a beautiful heart as well.

She does a lot of advocacy for Maternal health and since 2005 she has been a WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.

Recently, Liya partnered with designer brand Moncler, to create a collection that consists of eleven puffer gowns featuring traditional Ethiopian prints. 

6. Kandyse McClure (South Africa)

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Born in Durban, South Africa, but now a Canadian citizen, Kandyse has an impressively long resume which includes hit shows like Smallville, the Netflix original Hemlock Grove, and BattleStar Galactica.

Recently, Kandyse stared in, Sew The Winter to My Skin, which is based on a true story based on a notorious outlaw who achieved folk hero status in pre-apartheid South Africa.

7. Gugu Mbatha-Raw (South Africa)

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This South African beauty is of mixed heritage, as her mother is English and her father South African.

Gugu has taken on roles in some blockbuster films and hit TV shows like A Wrinkle in Time, Beauty and the Beast, and Black Mirror.

You can catch her in the upcoming film, Motherless Brooklyn, fixed to release later this year, is set against the backdrop of 1950s New York and follows a lonely private detective afflicted with Tourette's Syndrome, as he ventures to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend.

8. Megalyn Echikunwoke (Nigeria)

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Born to a Nigerian, Igbo father and a Caucasian mother has been in hit TV shows like That 70s Show, CSI Miami, and House of Lies and you can also watch her on the big screen this year in Kevin Hart’s Night School featuring fellow African Tiffany Haddish.

Late last year, she was cast in the off Broadway show, Apologia, alongside Stockard Channing and Hugh Dancy and this year she graced Afropolitain Magazine for her 1st cover looking like African royalty!

9. Tiffany Haddish (Eritrea)

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Tiffany Haddish is funny, beautiful, talented, humble and yes another African Queen.

Her father, Tsihaye Reda Haddish, was a refugee from Eritrea, and is from an Ethiopian Jewish family. Tiffany has starred in many hit TV shows and Movies including Nobody’s Fool, Night School, and Girls Trip.

Apparently, Tiffany has music on her mind since receiving a Grammy nod for Best Spoken Word Album for her audiobook “The Last Black Unicorn.”  She wants to release an album centered around the “She ready Experience.” I will definitely be getting that album!

10. Yvonne Orji (Nigeria)

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Yvonne was born in Nigeria to Nigerian parents and grew up in the US.
She rose to prominence starring alongside her TV best friend and fellow African, Issa Rae in the hit TV show Insecure.

You can watch Yvonne on the latest hit movie by Kevin Hart, Night School, and she is currently working on her web series First Gen.

11. Thandie Newton (Zimbabwe)

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This woman has been in so many iconic movies and hit TV shows, it is hard to know where to begin. Born to a Zimbabwean father and a Caucasian mother, Thandie has starred in movies like Crash, The Pursuit of Happyness, and For Colored Girls.

More recently she was in Jay Z: Family Feud ft. Beyonce, The Death and Life of John F. Donovon, and Gringo.

12. Ella Thomas (Eritrea)

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Ella was born to an Eritrean mother from Asmara and an American Air Force officer, who was stationed in Eritrea. Ella has also been featured in editorial spreads for American Vogue and Glamour and ELLE and she has also appeared in print ads for companies such as GapTiffany & Co., and Levi's and is appearing in the Lexus ES automotive commercials. 

She also become known for Ballers starring The Rock, NCIS: Los Angeles with LL Cool J, and Mistresses. You can catch her on the TV show The Detour and CW’s Supergirl.

13. Lovie Simone Oppong (Ghana)

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I have personally enjoyed watching Lovie Simone in OWN’s Greenleaf as she plays a teenager going through the motions of family, faith, and love. I especially love seeing her natural hairdos and fashion style both on the show and on her Instagram page. I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that she has Ghanaian blood in her as her mother is Ghanaian-American.

You can also watch her on Selah and the Spades alongside Jessie Williams set to premier at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

Gloria Mangi is an award winning, creative, journalist, activist and founder of the award winning African Queens Project and host of Queen Things Podcast.