African actors, actresses put continent on world map

By Colette Musanyera

THE African soil is blessed with various creatives, who keep film enthusiasts glued to their screens, owing to their flawless acting abilities.

As we continue to celebrate Africa month, we look into the success stories of internationally acclaimed queens and kings of make-believe whose roots are in Africa.

Known for her unrivalled acting prowess, Zimbabwe-born and USA-based actress, Danai Gurira has made a name for herself in the cut-throat Hollywood industry.

Gurira, who rose to fame in 2004 when she starred in a drama series; Law and Order: Criminal Intent, is best known for her roles as Michonne on AMC drama series and The Walking Dead.

The revered actress, who is also a playwright proved her mettle in Marvel Cinematic Superhero films like Black Panther, Avengers Infinity Wars and Avengers End Game.

Gurira also starred as Tupac Shakur’s mother Afeni in All Eyes on Me of 2017, where she received acclaim for her brilliant performances.

The internationally-acclaimed actress is a recipient of numerous awards including the People’s Choice Award for favourite action movie star at the 2018 E People’s Choice Awards.

Not to be outdone is another America based Zimbabwean actor, Tongai Chirisa who is celebrated internationally for his flawless acting skills.

Known for playing Man Friday on NBC’s Crusoe television series, Father Nicholas on the Jim Gaffigan Show, Chirisa honed his acting skills in Zimbabwean productions like Tanyaradzwa and the country’s first soap, Studio 263, where he became the darling of many.

Chirisa, a recipient of the NAMA 2020 outstanding artist in the diaspora, also featured on Antebellum and Leon Schuster’s Mr Bones 2.

The story will be incomplete without the mention of Charlize Theron, an America-based South African actress.

The Benoni bred actress made her Hollywood debut at the age of 16, with cameo roles until her eureka moment came in 1997 when she gained recognition after starring in the film Devil’s Advocate.

In 2003, the talented thespian featured on Monster, which earned her an Academy Award for best actress.

Theron’s other famous films include Hancock, Snow White and Italian Job.

Theron, one of the world’s most paid actresses, has numerous international awards to her name which include Screen Actors Guild Award and Golden Globe Award.

Lupita Nyong’o is another African name synonymous with flawless acting.

The Kenya-born actress has perfected the art of acting and so good is her execution that she was the first African to win an Oscar Award in 2014.

Nyong’o, who made her debut as a teenage orphan in a play; Eclipsed, is also part of Star Wars sequel trilogy and a lead voice role as Raksha in the Jungle Book of 2016.

Lupita’s acting prowess earned her a role as Nakia in the Marvel Cinematic Universe Superhero film, Black Panther of 2018 and a Jordan Peele’s 2019 horror film Us.

The Nigerian movie industry, Nollywood, has grown to be the force to reckon with in the world today and behind this powerful industry lies exceptional actresses like Genevieve Nnaji, who has helped in making the industry attractive not only in Africa but globally.

The internationally-acclaimed actress has successfully exhibited that she is an embodiment of talent, resulting in the Queen of Talk show, Oprah Winfrey naming her the Julia Roberts of Africa in 2011, after the celebrated Hollywood actress, Julia Roberts. 

Genevieve’s talent has earned her roles in more than 300 films including Blood Sisters, Formidable Force and Bursting Out.

Nnaji has received various accolades including Oscar nominations.