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The film industry is one cutthroat business that needs a thick skin to become successful. African actresses might not have gotten the chance to take on the big stage as much in the past decade but things are better these days. Now we have new names hitting the big time and making a mark in the film industry. Check out five African actresses making it big in Hollywood:

Lupita Nyong’o

lupita nyong'o

The 35-year-old Oscar winner has had a dreamy run in Hollywood and is one of the most sought-after actresses in the industry at current. Lupita Nyongo was born in Mexico to Kenyan parents and holds dual citizenship for the two countries. It’s safe to say that you’ve seen Lupita Nyong’o in more than one film, as she played roles in: 12 Years a Slave, Black Panther, Star Wars: Episode VII & Episode VIII, The Jungle Book,  and Non-Stop.


Thandie Newton

Thandiwe Nashita “Thandie” Newton, the daughter of Nyasha, a Zimbabwean member of the Shona people, and Nick Newton, an English laboratory technician and artist. has starred in many blockbuster Hollywood releases and has cemented her name as one of the biggest female stars of our times. The English actress has had roles in both American and British releases. Thandie Newton made her debut in acting in the film Flirting back in 1991. She went on to appear in the film “Interview With A Vampire” 3 years later. Her most notable roles include Nyah Nordhoff-Hall in “Mission Impossible II,” Sally Hemings in “Jefferson In Paris,” Kate Thomas in “Norbit,” Linda in “The Pursuit of Happiness” and a title role in “Beloved.” Over her long-spanning career, Newton has won accolades for her exploits in the movie industry including:

Michelle Van Der Water

Michelle Vander Water

The actress was born in Cape Town, South Africa. Soon after her birth, the family moved to Australia settling in a small town an hour’s drive from Sydney. After some time taking acting classes she realized that her love for acting was much stronger than her love for modeling.  She started out in 2000 after moving to Los Angeles.
She has appeared on a number of films taking on short roles on various major films. One of the main roles was in the movie “Minotaur” as Queen Raphaella starring alongside Tony Todd and Tom Hardy. Other performances came in works such as the renewal of the series “Melrose Place,” “Castle,” and NCIS: Los Angeles


Megalyn Echikunwoke


Megalyn was born in Spokane, Washington to an English, German and Irish mother and a Nigerian Father. The actress was discovered early and started acting at the tender age of fourteen. You may know her from “The 4400” a TV series in which she had the main role as the grown-up Isabelle Tyler. Megalyn Echikunwoke TV appearances also include: House of Lies, 24, Damsels in Distress, Vixen.


Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Gugulethu Sophia Mbatha-Raw was born on 21st April 1983. She started her acting career in 2004 and has appeared in many critically acclaimed films often taking a major role. She is most known for her acting on the hit TV series “Black Mirror” where she played Kelly. She also appeared as Dido Elizabeth Belle in “Belle.” In “Beyond The Lights” she featured playing Noni Jean. Some of the other movies she appeared on include:  Jupiter Ascending, Concussion, The Whole Truth and Free State of Jones.

By: Dammy Eneli

See Also: Top Ghanaian Actors Disrupting Nollywood 

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