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10 Surprising Celebrities You Didn’t Know Are African

10. SKEPTA

Skepta emerges in American mainstream as a big-name foreign artist as English Grime culture becomes popular in the States. Though he was and has been big in such a niche music community, his name bursts through the chains with the release of his acclaimed album Konnichiwa blows up and his hits like “Shutdown” and “That’s Not Me (feat. JME)” pop up on the radio in 2016. We listen to Skepta, we think he’s either Caribbean or English. Born and raised in North London, Skepta and his siblings (including fraternal grime hip-hop artist JME) are English by way of Nigeria, as their parents immigrated to London. Skepta was made a chief of his Nigerian hometown in Ogun State in April 2018.

9. IDRIS ELBA

We all know and love Idris. We fawn over his toothy grin and uber-masculine smolder. We know he’s English, given his sharp accent and that time he made his “mum very proud” after winning an OBE award and becoming an ‘Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” in 2016. His “mum,” Eve, even attended the award ceremony in traditionally-inspired Ghanaian ceremonial garb!  Idris was born in London to a Ghanaian mother and father from Sierra Leone after the couple immigrated to England from continental Africa.

8. JOHN BOYEGA

John comes at us quickly as we watch him pilot fighter fleets in Star Wars and save the day in a robotic bodysuit in Pacific Rim. We applauded his performance in Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit.  He’s a rising star and is shining big and bright right now. We know Boyega is British and applaud him to the moon and back, but did you know he’s also African? Oh yes, his parents are from Nigeria. He grew up watching Nollywood classics and big hits. He claims that at one point he even thought he’d only do spiritual movies because his father was a pastor, but eventually made the switch to secular content. After visiting Nigeria in January 2018, Boyega lamented he hadn’t found a wife yet. We think we could make a few introductions… hey, it worked for Meghan Markle!

7. THANDIE NEWTON

Thandie has been blessing us on-screen since the nineties, and we couldn’t be more grateful. With big titles like Beloved, Mission Impossible 2, For Colored Girls, Crash, and the recent Solo: A Star Wars Story under her belt, we’ve grown to know and love Thandie’s versatility as an actress. Born in London, she is half English and her other half is of the colorful African pallet. Her mother, Nyasha, is actually a princess of the Shona people in Zimbabwe. Now that’s some royalty right there, just not of the British sort… Thanks, Thandie, for all you do!

6. HANNAH JOHN KAMEN

Remember that girl from that one Black Mirror episode where the guy plays a video game and loses his mind? She’s also been on HBO’s Game of Thrones, Spielberg’s new movie Ready Player One, and Marvel’s summer blockbuster Antman and the Wasp. Hannah John Kamen is headed straight to the top, doing bigger movies and television shows! You go girl! She’s the youngest of three and was born in East Yorkshire, England. Her parents are Nigerian! Her father’s a forensic psychologist and her mother’s a former fashion model. Soooo… basically, she comes from a long line of black excellence and is continuing the legacy. How do you say YAAASSSS in Yoruba? Kidding, of course.

5. DIE ANTWOORD

Die Antwoord is the musical brainchild of musicians Ninja and Yolandi Visser hailing all the way from South Africa. Their style and music is idolized after South African counterculture called zef, a formerly derogatory word for working-class white people (similar to the term “white trash”) in South Africa that has taken on a new form, culture, and style as demonstrated by the music group. The band’s name is actually Afrikaans for “The Answer.” According to the band’s leading female artist, zef culture is close to the “ghetto fabulous” of American hip-hop culture. The band has reached a global fame in their own right, but hail from Cape Town!

4. YVONNE ORJI

Yvonne is currently taking over television as supporting actress in HBO’s big hit show Insecure, starring Issa Rae. Yvonne’s character, Molly, is so down-to-Earth and relatable that it took us all a minute to even ask if she’s from Los Angles or not. Though she grew up in Maryland and earned a master’s in Public Health from George Washington University, she was born in Nigeria. Orji has taken up comedy and acting in her most recent years, and we wish her all the best of luck in her endeavors! Keep on keepin’ on, Yvonne! We see you!

3. DANAI GURIRA

Danai killed it (literally and figuratively) in Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War. Who’s out here waiting on a part two? We sure are! Before that we marveled at her in AMC’s The Walking Dead as she SLAYED zombies and other enemies as Michonne, the epitome of “a strong black woman that don’t need a man.” Seriously. Gurira is originally from Iowa and earned an MFA from New York University. She’s an actress, playwright, and a star shining big and bright above! Her parents moved from Zimbabwe to the U.S. in the mid ‘60s. While she’s out their getting her black excellence on, we’re over here taking notes and singing praises!

2. DAVE MATTHEWS

Dave Matthews is from South Africa! He grew up traveling the world and has been playing the guitar since the tender age of 9. Through personal heartache and family tragedy, he and his band have been bringing rock music with them around the globe since the nineties. He’s been involved in politics and fundraising for non-profits as long as his band has been together. Though Dave Matthews is American and live in Seattle, we can’t forget he hails from Jo-Berg!

1. SOPHIE OKONEDO

Okenedo is a decorated and celebrated actress that identifies as British. Indeed, she was born in London to a Jewish mother and British Nigerian father. Though her father left she and her mother when she was young, Okonedo fondly remembers how happy she was to have a plethora of reading material despite her impoverished upbringing.  Today we celebrate and bask in her glory as we marvel at her in movies like Hotel Rwanda, The Secret Life of Bees, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, and many others.

BONUS! TREVOR NOAH

Okay, Okay, we guess it’s not THAT surprising Trevor Noah is African: He’s always talking about it… and we love it! Though he is living it up in New York City as he hosts The Daily Show and is contracted to remain on the show until 2022, he hails from the motherland (like all of us). Trevor was born in Jo-Burg, South Africa and was formerly a television host with the South African Broadcasting Corporation. He’s a comedian, author, political commentator, and oh so handsome. You go, Trevor! We’re rooting for you!