Well, Hiya To You! Shouting Out Some Of Our Favorite Black Imports From Britain
Although the U.S. goes crazy for British celebs like Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley and Kate Middleton, many folks forget that there are Black celebs also representing for the Queen. Britain is one of the most diverse countries in the world: everyone from Eastern Europe to India to Senegal represents in that country. There is a pronounced Black presence in the U.K, mainly represented by West Indians and Nigerians. Nowhere is this fact more clear than the Black celebs who represent for their secondary motherland. Check out a few of our favorite British imports:
Surprised anyone? Of course you’re not. What more can we say about this image of perfection. He’s hot, he’s masculine, he’s talented and he’s got a killer American accent (hey, that accent is the reason we get to see so much of his fine self on our American tubes). Although it’s not easy to feign a consistent accent when it comes to playing people across the pond (and vice versa), Elba pulled a fast one over us when he played the subdued yet diligent Stringer Bell on HBO’s The Wire. Elba hasn’t looked back since.
Even today, Slick Rick is still an anomaly. The man who preceded Snoop Dogg and made it cool for rappers to embrace their gaudy, flashy, more feminine side is like no other British import. Although London town is known for its heavy presence of West Indian and African immigrant communities, there haven’t been many rappers to emerge from the U.K. Slick indelibly left a huge mark on hip-hop. Unfortunately, a criminal case curbed his trajectory – officials sought to deport him after being caught up with an attempted murder charge in 2001. He was later pardoned in 2008 and continued to work on his rap career.
We’re going to miss the dynamic duo of Floetry because their chemistry was just amazing. You had the beautiful voice that is Marsha Ambrosius meld with the raps from Nathalie “the Floacist” Stewart. The two friends left the U.K together and cultivated their music in Philadelphia amidst the burgeoning neo-soul scene. They released two amazing albums before they called it quits. Here’s to hoping for a reunion!
The title of Helen Folasade Adu’s next album should be “Everybody Loves Sade” because it’s the truth! Nobody tops the romance-inducing, sultry, lovely music that Sade has put out for the world to consume for over two decades. The icon was born in Nigeria and raised in Britain by a Yoruba father, who taught as an economics professor, and a British nurse. At the age of 24, the reclusive artist scored a record deal for her and her band, and soonafter released the groundbreaking debut album Diamond Life. Although Adele is red hot on her tails, Sade is still the best selling female artist in British history.
We certainly can’t say that everyone loves Naomi Campbell but hate her or love her, you gotta admit that she’s made some huge strides in the modeling industry for Black women. At 42, Campbell is still doing her thing and is still in demand as one of the biggest supermodels of our generation. The London-born beauty can trace her ethnic roots to Jamaica and China, by way of her paternal grandmother. You already know about Naomi’s rap sheet and her gazillion magazine covers, but did you know that Naomi, whose mother worked as a professional dancer, made her first commercial appearance in the Bob Marley video for “Is This Love” when she was just seven years old?
Chiwetel first caught our eye in “Dirty Pretty Things,” the British film about a Nigerian immigrant caught up in a twisted scheme involving the black market for organs. The London-born, Nigerian actor had to cope with tragedy early in his life. As he and his father were driving home while in Nigeria, they were involved in a head-on car collision which killed his father.
Although we can’t say we’ve seen Ejiofor in a great, defining role since his turn in Dirty Pretty Things, he’s definitely on the go-to list of black actors in Hollywood. He stays busy working in blockbuster film after blockbuster film. We’re sure he won’t be complaining about the lack of roles for Black actors anytime soon.
Not only did Dirty Pretty Things introduce us to Chiwetel but it also introduced us to the extraordinary actress Sophie Okonedo. After DPT, Okonedo went on to make a splash in a starring role in Hotel Rwanda – a role for which she was nominated for an Academy Award. Although Okonedo is not as recognized as her fellow Black British actress Thandie Newton (whom we love as well), she’s a gem of an actress. The 43 year old thespian was raised by her Jewish mother, and is also a mom to a 12-year old daughter.
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