Here are 10 of the most successful Kenyan actors in Hollywood 2020

by  Caiaphas Wanjala | TUKO

Who is the best actor in Kenya? With each dawn, more and more African actors and actresses are getting featured and earning a spotlight in Hollywood’s biggest movie and film industry. That said, several successful Kenyan actors in Hollywood have made a name for themselves due to their acting prowess.

The Kenyan actors and actresses in Hollywood fly the 254 flag very high and put the country on the world map. There are outstanding Kenyan actors and actresses whose accomplishments are a big inspiration for many to pursue their interests regardless of their backgrounds.

Top 10 successful Kenyan actors in Hollywood

Who are the top 10 most famous actors? Since Hollywood is the biggest home to prominent television and movie production companies globally, it goes without saying that the Kenyans working in the industry earn hefty salaries. Here are the famous Kenyan actors in Hollywood.


1. Edi Gathegi Edi

Gathegi attends the “Free Spirit” VIP premiere at Pacific Theaters at the Grove. Photo: Rich FurY Source: Getty Images

Edi Mue Gathegi is probably one of the Kenyan actors with the most features in Hollywood movies. For this reason, he tops this list as one of the most talented and highly paid Kenyan actors in Hollywood.

Edi was born in Kenya on March 10th, 1979, and at three years old, his family relocated to California, USA. Acting was not on his radar as Gathegi was to pursue basketball at the University of California. However, due to a knee injury, his plans changed, and he decided to study acting at New York University.

Edi’s first film role was playing Haitian Cabbie in the film Crank (2006). Ever since then, Edi Gathegi has been cast for several celebrated movies and television series, including The Blacklist, StartUp, Twilight, Veronica Mars, Into the Badlands, The Blacklist: Redemption, Lincoln Heights, Nikita, CSI: Miami, and X Men: First Class.

Lupita Nyong’o

Lupita Nyong’o speaks onstage at the Montecito Award Honoring. Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer Source: Getty Images

Without a doubt, Lupita Nyong’o is one of the renowned Kenyan actors and actresses doing big things in Hollywood. She was born in Mexico but grew up in Kenya; therefore, she possesses dual citizenship. Her father is a well-known politician, Professor Anyang’ Nyong’o, who is the reigning governor of Kisumu County. Ms Nyong’o is the second child out of six children.

Lupita Nyong’o holds a bachelor’s degree in film and theatre studies which she obtained from Hampshire College. She also has a Master’s degree in acting from Yale School of Drama. The talented actress started working in Hollywood as a production assistant. The first major break that put her in the spotlight was her role Patsy in the famed historical film 12 Years A Slave (2013) that won her the coveted Oscar award.

Since then, Lupita’s star has continued to shine brighter, and she has been featured in many prominent roles in several award-winning movies. Some of the films include East River (2008), Shuga (2009-2012), Star Wars sequel trilogy (2015-2019), Queen of Katwe (2016), Black Panther(2018), and Us(2019).


Benjamin Alfred Onyango Ochieng

Benjamin Alfred Onyango Ochieng also known as Benji is one of the Kenyan male actors with a big name in Hollywood. He is deemed the go-to actor for Swahili’s roles due to his eloquence and mastery of the language. According to the actor, he got his first speaking gig three minutes after speaking in Swahili. To date, Mr. Onyago has been featured in nearly 60 roles as an extra or as a voice actor.

Actor Benjamin A. Onyango attends the God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness premiere. Photo: Jesse Grant Source: Getty Images

Benjamin was born in Kenya to a humble background in Ofafa, Jericho. He attended primary and secondary schools within the area. In 1987, he moved to further his studies in the United States, and this is how he ended up working in music and acting in California.

Besides acting, Benji has also been making money as a producer, writer, and sound editor in Hollywood. Some of the shorts movies directed by Benjamin include Mr. Brewers Difficult Day (2011) and MISSInformed (2013).

Even though he might not be well known like his counterparts Edi and Lupita, you have probably watched or know some of the films he has been featured in. These include Tears of The Sun (2003), Trusts and Estates (2013), God’s Not Dead (2014), Beautifully Broken (2017), The Shield, Dysfunctional Organized, General Hospital, Two Worlds, and Chapter One.

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Raymond Ofula

Raymond Ofula is a veteran Kenyan actor with over 30 years of experience, some involving international roles that qualify him as one of the successful Kenyan actors in Hollywood. Besides, he has been a favourite on the local television series Makutano Junction (2007) and Mali (2011-2015).

Raymond Ofula. Photo: @riverwoodawards Source: Instagram

Raymond Ofula has an impressive filmography as he has been featured in various international films like Tom Raider 2 alongside celebrated stars likes Angelina Jolie. Moreover, he has made appearances in To Walk With Lions (1999), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle Of Life (2003), The White Masai (2005), Winterreise (2006), The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019) and Queen Sono.

5. Christine Wawira

Christine Wawira | Photo: @christinewawira Source: Instagram

Christine Wawira might not be so famous locally, but she is a Kenyan actress based in the United States, making a living from her professional acting career.

Wawira, born on December 20th, 1987, relocated to London with her parents and younger sister in 1994. She has appeared in over 13 films, with her most prominent roles being on Flash, Blacklisted, East African Girl, Night Call, and Sign of the Dragon

6. Lenny Juma

Lenny Juma. Photo: @juma.lenny Source: Instagram

Lenny Juma is another Kenyan male actor with a colourful resume in the entertainment industry both at home and on the international front. Lenny began his acting career in 1971 and has since featured in famed movies like Tomb Raider II, The Cradle of Life (2003), The Constant Gardener (2005), Arthur and the Invisibles (2006), Indiana Jones Chronicles, and National Geographic Banged Up Abroad.

7. Kiran Shah

Kenyan-Indian actor Kiran Shah attends the Paris Manga & Sci-Fi Show at Parc des Expositions Porte de Versailles. Photo: Chesnot Source: Getty Images

Kirah Shah, born in Nairobi, Kenya, on September 28th, 1956, is among the Kenyan actors who made it to Hollywood. He is of Asian descent, and he relocated back to India when he was 12 years old.

8. Mary Oyaya

Mary Oyaya during “Star Wars” Celebration IV – Day 2 – Media Day at Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, California, United States. Photo: M. Tran Source: Getty Images

Mary Oyaya is a Kenyan model and globetrotter who has lived in Sweden, Canada, and Australia. Hailing from Mombasa, Kenya, she is on this list of Kenyan actors and actresses in Hollywood, given that she was featured in two Star Wars films playing the character of Jedi Master Luminara Unduliin. This got her many clappings for remarkable performance.

Besides Star Wars, Oyaya was also featured in Farscape (1999) and Attack of the Clones (2002).

9. Charles Gitonga Maina

Charles Gitonga Maina. Photo:@NewsNow_Atlanta Source: Twitter

Charles Gitonga Maina is a Kenyan born actor born in Buru Buru, Nairobi. Born in 1976, Charles is 6 10’ and plays the role of Saleh, a basketball player who guides his team to win, in the film The Air Up There (1994). Charles natural talent in doing basketball stunts got him the role of Saleh.

After Jimmy Dolan, played by Kevin Bacon, landed on one of his home videos, he traveled to Africa and recruited Mr. Gitonga. To add, Charles also acquired a basketball scholarship at Lynn University at the time. The tall, talented actor also featured in SeaQuest 2032 (1993).

10. Owiso Odera

Actor Owiso Odera attends the Sundance Institute rehearsal of “BWAGAMOYO”. Photo: Paul Zimmerman Source: Getty Images

Our list of Kenyan actors and actresses in Hollywood cannot be complete without mentioning Sudanese-born Kenyan Owiso Odera. Owiso is one of the actors featured on the notable television series Vampires Diaries. Furthermore, he also appeared in The Originals, a spin-off of the Vampire show created from Vampires Diaries.

Owiso also acted in films such as The Brothers Grimsby (2016), Blue Bloods (2010), and The Thirst: Blood War (2008). Sadly, he died in 2016 while on the set of a film dabbed Measure Plus Dido.

From the above list of successful Kenyan actors in Hollywood, it is evident that talent pays off. Therefore, never stop believing- it does not matter where you come from. If Kenyans from humble backgrounds can do it, so can you.

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Read from Source Tuko Newspaper