Meet Ilfenesh Hadera, the Ethiopian-American Actor Who Plays Opal in 'She's Gotta Have It'

Get to know the "She's Gotta Have It" actor who is one to watch.

Spike Lee's revamp of his 1986 cult classic film, She's Gotta Have It, dropped on Thanksgiving and we're obsessed.

Lee reintroduces Nola Darling, an artist who tries to stay true to her sexual liberation as she juggles three lovers. As we watched the series, we run into, Opal Gilstrap, Nola's former lover who she eventually runs back to when she takes a break from her triangle of men.

Opal is one of the few characters in the series who's a breath of fresh air. She keeps it all the way real with Nola and isn't afraid to call her out on her selfishness and how it impacts the people she's intimate with.

Ilfenesh Hadera is the Ethiopian-American actor who plays Opal so well in the series. You might have seen Hadera star alongside The Rock in the film Baywatch, Lee's controversial film Chi-Raq, as well as in the TV series Master of None and Billions.


The New York-native is the daughter of an Ethiopian refugee and an American acupuncturist.

Video still via Netflix.

"I identify as half Ethiopian, half white. I'm equal parts," she says in an interview with Time. "I hear so many biracial people say, 'I didn't know where I fit in.' But I grew up in Harlem and went to school on the Upper West Side, where half the students looked like me. I consider myself lucky to have lived in this bubble."

Before Hadera had her big break, she was on the grind as a waitress for 10 years.

"You pay your dues. You meet some great people, and it teaches you how to deal with long hours and grump[y] people," she says in an interview with Coveteur. "It is definitely not glamorous work. I was the low man on the totem pole at The Standard for a year, so I was closing every night that I worked. The things people would say to me if turned away…I can't even repeat. You take a real bashing."

Hadera also identifies strongly with her Ethiopian heritage, and understands the importance of giving back. Soon after her father, Asfaha Hadera, arrived to the U.S. in the late 1970s, he started the African Services Committee, an organization that helps displaced refugees with legal services and community building.

"I had my first summer job there doing paperwork," she continues to Time. "You meet the clients and you hear the stories. So, I know how vital the work has been to the lives of thousands of people over the years. We've got to look out for one another."

We can't wait to see what's next for Hadera—she's definitely an actor to watch.

Mr Eazi, Shabazz Palaces, Patoranking and More to Join Lauryn Hill On 'Miseducation' Tour

The singer has added a slew of noteworthy musical guests to the lineup of her 20th anniversary tour.

Lauryn Hill has just announced new dates for the North American leg of her ongoing The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill World Tour 2018, which marks the 20th anniversary of her seminal album.

The tour will feature appearances from some of or favorite artists on select dates. Mr Eazi will join the legendary singer during her September 22 show in Phoenix, Arizona. Shabazz Palaces and Pantoranking will also open for the singer for a number of shows later on in the tour.

Keep reading... Show less
Photo: Instagram

The Rise of the New Egyptian King, Mohamed Salah

How Mohamed Salah brought Egypt to its first World Cup in 28 years.

When Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos brought down Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during this year's Champions League final in Kiev, it wasn't only Reds fans who feared the worst. Salah, a revelation this season for the English club, but a long-time favorite in his native Egypt, walked off from that match in tears and in a lot of pain, and it looked like he could miss the World Cup.

It would have been a tragedy for Egyptian fans, who had waited for 28 years to return to a World Cup, only to see that the star that finally led their team back to the world stage would risk sitting out from the tournament. And it would have been a tragedy for many neutral fans, who would miss one of the most exciting and explosive players right now performing at the most popular sporting event in the world.

Keep reading... Show less
Style

Wizkid Made His Runway Debut Over the Weekend & Folks Couldn't Get Enough

Who knew Starboy could slay a catwalk like this?

Not only is Wizkid an international pop star, but it looks like the Nigerian artist may also have a serious future in modeling—who knew?

Starboy was in Milan, Italy over the weekend, where he graced Dolce & Gabana's SS19 menswear catwalk, alongside supermodel Naomi Campbell, who has been increasingly and vocally supportive of all things afrobeats and Nigerian culture, since she visited the country back in April. British-Nigerian rapper Tinie Tempah also hit the runway during the show.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

The Black Colombian Team

This Colombian team, once again, will have a large contingent of black Colombians playing fundamental roles. Their stories might be a perfect example of what's at stake both at the World Cup and for the future of the country.

popular.