These Six Emmy-winning shows feature Nigerian-born stars
In case you missed it, the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards held on Monday, September 20th with TV’s biggest stars heating up the red carpet.
As Naija no dey carry last, we were even more excited because a number of the Emmy-nominated and Emmy-winning shows, all available for streaming on Showmax, feature actors of Nigerian origin.
Here are 6 Emmy-nominated and Emmy-winning shows featuring actors of Nigerian origin worth checking out over the weekend.
1. Chinasa Ogbuagu in Mare of Easttown
Chinasa Ogbuagu is a Nigerian-born actress who featured in the award-winning series The Following and 2016 movie From Nowhere.In Mare of Easttown, she plays Beth Hanlon, a friend of Dawn (Kate Winslet).Mare of Easttown nabbed 4 Emmys – Outstanding Lead Actress: Limited Series (Kate Winslet), Supporting Actor (Evan Peters), Supporting Actress (Julianne Nicholson) and Production Design from 16 nominations.The show stars Winslet (Titanic, Mildred Pierce, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) as small-town detective Mare Sheehan, who must investigate a murder while trying to keep her life from falling apart.The seven-episode series holds an 8.5/10 score on IMDb and a 94% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics consensus says Winslet is at her “career-best.” The Guardian hailed the series as “a stunning, harrowing success… a murder mystery that kept us guessing right to the profoundly moving end.”
2. Wunmi Mosaku in Lovecraft Country
Wunmi Mosaku was born in Nigeria and subsequently moved to Manchester, England when she was one. She starred in the TV film Damilola, Our Beloved Boy, for which she won the BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress. She has also starred in the fifth series of Luther.Mosaku stars as Ruby Baptiste in HBO’s Lovecraft Country, which won two Emmys (Guest Actor – Courtney B. Vance) and Sound Editing from 18 Emmy nominations including Outstanding Drama, Actor (Jonathan Majors), Actress (Jurnee Smollet), Supporting Actor (Michael K. Williams) and Supporting Actress (Aunjanue Ellis).The show is set in 1950s America, and follows Atticus, a young African-American, who sets out on a road trip with his friend and uncle to find his missing father. This catapults the three into a struggle for survival against the dual terrors of Jim Crow-era America and terrifying monsters that could be ripped from a paperback written by pulpy horror author HP Lovecraft.Lovecraft Country has an 88% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, their best-reviewed sci-fi/fantasy series of 2020. As Newsday put it, “To call Lovecraft Country ‘wildly original’ seems almost a quaint understatement. But it is wild. And original. Little doubt about that.”
3. Weruche Opia in I May Destroy You
Daughter of veteran Nigerian broadcaster, Ruth Benamaisia Opia, Weruche Opia was born in Nigeria and moved to England at the age of 13. She popped into the limelight in Nigeria when she starred in the box office hit, When Love Happens. She has also featured in the British sitcom, Bad Education.I May Destroy You centres on Arabella (BAFTA winner Michaela Coel from Black Mirror), a carefree, self-assured Londoner with a group of great friends, a boyfriend in Italy, and a burgeoning writing career. But when her drink is spiked with a date-rape drug, she must question and rebuild every element of her life.Opia plays Terry Pratchard, Arabella’s best friend, a struggling actor.The show won 2 Emmys (Outstanding Writing: Limited Series and Music Supervision) from 9 nominations including Outstanding Limited Series, Best Actress (Michaela Coel) and Supporting Actor (Paapa Essiedu).I May Destroy You was named the show of the year in 2020 by Time and has a 97% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus says, “I May Destroy You is at once brave and delicate, untangling the trauma of sexual assault with dark humour and moments of deep discomfort, all held together on the strength of Michaela Coel’s undeniable talent.”
4. O.T Fagbenle in The Handmaid’s TaleOlatunde Olateju Olaolorun “O-T” Fagbenle was born in London to a Nigerian father and British mother. He made history when he became the first person to write, direct, compose, star and executive produce the opening episode of a TV series on a major US network with his show Maxxx. In an interview with Pulse, Bankole shared that he “spent most of his childhood here (Nigeria) before the age of 10”.On The Handmaid’s Tale, Fagbenle plays Luke Bankole, June Osbourne’s husband, who is committed to finding his wife after she was seized by Gilead soldiers.The Handmaid’s Tale features a dystopia following a Second American Civil War wherein a totalitarian society subjects fertile women, called “Handmaids”, to child-bearing slavery.The show had 21 nominations including Outstanding Supporting Actor nominations for Fagbenle and his co-stars Bradley Whitford and Max Minghella. It however did not win any awards.Despite a disappointing night for the show, however, The Handmaid’s Tale has won 74 awards to date, including 15 Emmy Awards as well as Golden Globes for Best Drama Series and Best Actress (Elisabeth Moss). The series holds an 8.4/10 score on IMDb and an 83% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
5. Sope Dirisu and Jude Akwuwudike in Gangs of LondonBorn to Nigerian parents in Edgware London, Sope Dirisu plays Elliot Finch, an undercover police officer who infiltrates the notorious Wallace family, in the British action crime drama, Gangs of London. His character’s father is played by John Akwuwudike, who was born in Nigeria.Gangs of London tells the story of London being torn apart after the assassination of the head of London’s most powerful crime family. The show was up for an Outstanding Stunt Performance award at the earlier held Creative Arts Emmys and also nabbed a Best Drama BAFTA earlier in the year.Dirisu has also starred in Criminal and The Huntsman: Winter’s War, while Akwuwudike has mostly worked on stage but notably played Supreme Commander Dada Goodblood, leader of an unnamed West African country torn apart by civil war, in the 2015 film, Beasts of No Nation.Gangs of London has an 8.1/10 rating on IMDb and a 91% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics consensus says, “A modern crime family masterpiece, Gangs of London builds its own empire atop tried and true mafia turf – complete with engaging drama, exhilarating action, and fine performances all around.”
6. Zachary Momoh in The NeversZachary Momoh is a British-Nigerian actor known for his role in the 2018 TV series, Seven Seconds.In The Nevers, he plays Dr Horatio Cousens, a West Indian doctor with healing powers.The Nevers is set in the last years of Victoria’s reign, London. The city is beset by the Touched: people – mostly women – who suddenly manifest abnormal abilities – some charming, some disturbing. The show was hailed by the Los Angeles Times as “HBO’s next great fantasy series.. a joy to watch and a thrill to follow”.The Nevers was nominated for Outstanding Special Visual Effects at the earlier held Creative Arts Emmy Awards.