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Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Posted by By Modupe Ogunbayo, on 2005/09/01 | Views: 13839 |

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Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje


This six feet, one inch giant does not look like a Nigerian. From his sleek, urbane looks, one is tempted to think he is one of our kinsmen in Africa lost to the West through the infamous Trans Atlantic Slave Trade.

This six feet, one inch giant does not look like a Nigerian. From his sleek, urbane looks, one is tempted to think he is one of our kinsmen in Africa lost to the West through the infamous Trans Atlantic Slave Trade. Make no mistake though, this fast emerging movie star is 'somewhat' becoming one of the hottest black movie stars in, wait for it, Hollywood, United States. His name? Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.

Hollywood is globally adjudged the capital of perfection and glamour in the movie world. Budding actors and film producers, irrespective of race or talent always dream about and drool over when they can actually make it into the 'big time' which is what Hollywood personifies. Akinnuoye-Agbaje is the only actor in the Hollywood circuit from Africa's most populous country yet.

He was the African guide, Loch-Nah, in Mummy Returns which was produced in 2001. The movie was a box office sensation not only in the United States but in most countries of the world. It was Mummy Returns which inspired other historical epics like The Lords of The Rings trilogy. In Nigeria, its popularity spurred the start of advertising campaigns having the promise of a generous sum to be got in exchange for discovering an hidden treasure buried in a secret island. A year later, Akinnuyo-Agbaje was Nykwana Wombosi in The Bourne Identity. This film was one of the top movies in the United States in 2002. He also acted as Junod in Unstoppable which was produced in 2004. Furthermore, he has also acted in top Hollywood productions since the turn of the millennium like Lip Service; Enslavement: The True Story of Fanny Kemble and On the One.

Akinnuoye-Agbaje's career started in 1994. It was then he started making appearances on American television dramas. These include Red Shoe Diaries; New York Undercover; Cracker; Pensacola and so on. In the mid- 90s, precisely in 1995, his career experienced the big break he had been seeking as he got a role in the epic film, Congo. He was Kahega, Kelly's guide in the movie. That same year, he was the Voodoo Man in Delta of Venus. Though these were minor roles, the appearance opened the door for getting roles in other Hollywood productions like Ace of Ventura: When Nature Calls. He returned to television production in 1996 with Deadly Voyage; a year later he starred in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. In 1997, he starred in three episodes of the Oz series: he acted in The Complete Second Season, The Complete Third Season and acted the lead role alongside Ernie Hudson in The Complete Fourth Season released in June 2005.

In 2005 alone, exactly 10 years since the start of his career, he has appeared in two major Hollywood productions titled Mistress of Spices which has been filmed and is in the post-production stage and acted as Kwesi in Get Rich or Die Tryin' which is still being filmed.

Impressive really. This is an amazing feat for an African actor in a terrain almost wholly owned and dominated by whites. Especially as Akinnuoye-Agbaje did not have any basic training in drama or acting. Born in London, England on August 22, 1967 to Nigerian parents, he has a Masters degree in Law from the University of London. However, his artistic bent rebelled against donning the wig and the gown. Instead, he craved the klieg lights and camera. But he was astute enough to know the transition would not come easy. Nevertheless, he braved the unknown and was gutsy enough to follow through his resolve. As a detour to his objective, he started modeling. His modeling career took him to Milan, Italy. After establishing himself on the modeling scene in Italy, he decided the timing was ripe to move to Los Angeles to start his acting career. He has not looked back since then.

A multi-linguist, Akinnuoye-Agbaje is fluent in Italian, Swahili, English and Yoruba, his native tongue. He is apparently proud to be known as being of Nigerian extraction for despite his fame, he refused to change his native name for a Western stage name.

Modest enough to regard his level of fame as 'somewhat', it is a proud fact that Akinnuoye-Agbaje is a Nigerian actor shining brightly in Hollywood. This ambassador of Nigeria's success story is an inspiration to other African and Nigerian actors aspiring to achieve the same feat. Akinnuoye-Agbaje is worthy of being made a Cultural Ambassador for the country just as South Africa did with Charlize Theron, a South African born actress. Definitely, he is a leader, still rising. And, as exemplified by his drive, meant to get to the very pinnacle of accomplishments in acting on the global stage in Hollywood. Dare we hope that an Academy Award is not far off?

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