Wo Ho Te Sεn? 9 Of Our Favorite Celebs of Ghanaian Descent (And a Few Surprises…)
For a while now, when it comes to these slideshows that showcase the roots of some of our favorite celebrities, I’ve had people asking me to do something on Ghanian people. I know I’ve stalled (what, with so many big name celebs mysteriously popping up as Caribbean folks), but with the help of a Ghanian colleague (hey Dani!), I’ve rounded up a few folks I thought you might be interested to know were repping the country. It wasn’t easy, so if you have more you’d like to share, (politely) let us know in the comment section. Enjoy!
He’s a smart guuuuuuy! Or at least, he’s the child of two very smart people. Boris Frederic Cecil Tay-Natey Ofuatey-Kodjoe (you read right, girl) is the son of an Austrian psychologist, named Ursula, and a Ghanian physician named Eric Kodjoe. Clearly these were some good looking people, because Boris is one delicious brotha! The former model and actor has been known to show love for his Ghanian lineage, even participating in Ghana Fashion Week in 2009, and having his wife rock fashions made in Ghana to big red carpet events (well, big enough–the BET Awards).
You’ll find after clicking through this slideshow that clearly we love fashion ’round these parts. Designer Ozwald Boateng is the child of Ghanian parents but was born and raised in Britain. His mother, who worked in the fabric trade in Ghana, came to Britain and became a seamstress. Her work in clothing and the double breasted purple mohair suit she bought him as a child definitely inspired Boateng to get into designing clothes. Since then, Boateng opened a boutique in London, dropped a women’s fragrance, was creative director of menswear at Givenchy, has been heavily involved in film work (even designing costumes for shows like “Ugly Betty” and movies like “Sex and the City” and “The Matrix), and did a little somethin’ somethin’ for his Ghana by orchestrating a show at the 9th Annual African Union Summit in Accra in 2007.
Why do we love Freema Agyeman you ask? Well, other than being a big star in Britain for her roles on shows and soaps like “Crossroads,” and “Doctor Who,” she’s one of the few black faces to show up on the upcoming “Sex and the City” prequel, “The Carrie Diaries.” Agyeman, who is the child of an Iranian mother and Ghanian father, will play party girl Larissa, who is a writer for Interview magazine. The actress says she hasn’t been to Ghana yet, but she hopes to make the trek soon enough: “I’ve not been to Iran or Ghana. It’s a massive dream of mine to go and experience both of those rich cultures in their entirety.”
Davidson, otherwise known as Alfred Amey, is the son of a Ghanian father and an English mother, and if you’re wondering where you’ve seen this man, here’s three words: The Crying Game. If you recognize Jaye Davidson’s face, chances are, you probably already knew that the androgynous model and occasional actor played the transgender woman “Dil” in the critically-acclaimed film (which also starred Forest Whitaker). His role in the movie also made him the first black British actor to get an Academy Award nomination. Since that breakthrough role, Davidson left acting on the back burner to get back into fashion and be reclusive…
There’s been a lot of confusion lately about whether or not Michael Blackson is Nigerian or Ghanian (even here in the office), but I’m here to tell you that he is indeed Ghanian. The comedian uses his experiences of being a Ghanian man in America in his routines, and the accent he uses to do so is what propelled him in the first place after playing a super angry and obscene record store customer in Next Friday. Sadly, when Blackson returned home to Ghana in 2007 to perform, he was booed off the stage for cursing like a sailor during his act. Ouch…
Anybody else a Color Purple fan? Well, Busia played the role of Nettie in the film (Celie’s long-lost sister chilling in Africa of all places), and she also had roles in the films Native Son and Rosewood. On top of that, Busia, is also a prominent writer, co-writing a song on Stevie Wonder’s A Time to Love album and was a co-writer for the Beloved screenplay (the 1998 film version). Akosua, who was born in Ghana, is the daughter of the former prime minister of Ghana, Kofi Abrefa Busia. On a mad interesting side note, she’s also the ex-wife of John Singleton (post-Tyra years). The two married in ’96 and share a daughter.
You might not know the name off top, but if you’ve ever wanted to see a fashion magazine gracefully display black models (and not just one every 20 pages), you should be thankful for big names in fashion like Enninful. The Ghanian-born fashion stylist is the fella who spearheaded the successful “Black Issue” done by Italian Vogue in 2008, which managed to bring together and showcase some of the fresh faces and icons of the modeling world, including Iman, Veronica Webb, Naomi Campbell, Alek Wek, Liya Kebede and today’s stars, including Arlenis Sosa, Sessilee Lopez and Jourdan Dunn. Enninful at 18 was the youngest fashion director of an international magazine, running “thangs” at i-D Magazine, then later heading to Italian Vogue, Vogue, and taking his place as the current fashion director at W.
With parents of the Ashanti origin, actor Peter Mensah was born in Accra, Ghana and raised from a young age in England. The actor, who I’m sure you’ve seen before in movies like 300, Avatar, and currently carrying a regular role on “True Blood” and “Spartacus,” reps his homeland very hard, even lauding Ghana in interviews: “I am very attached to Ghana, especially as so many members of my family live there…and thankfully, with the use of Skype and the Internet we are able to be in consistent contact, even if we can only occasionally see each other. I feel really fortunate to have roots in such a breathtakingly beautiful country.”
My husband, Idrissa Akuna Elba, was born to a Ghanian mother and a Sierra Leonean father. The two, Eve and Winston, met in West Africa and moved to London in the ’70s, and Elba was born a year after his mother touched down in London town. Why is he one of our favorites? Hello! He’s fine! Aside from that, Elba is a damn good actor (“Luther” anyone?) and we love that he dabbles in music from time to time, DJing and even dropping an EP for his adoring fans. I’d prefer he stick to acting, but I’m not mad at the brotha…
Who would you add to the list of your own favorites?