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.

News Brief

The Trailer for Faraday Okoro's Tribeca Film 'Nigerian Prince' Is Here

The film is due to hit U.S. theaters October 19.

The trailer for Nigerian filmmaker Faraday Okoro's debut feature Nigerian Prince is here, Shadow and Act reports.

We're a month away from the film landing in U.S. theaters and On-Demand since the film got acquired by Vertical Entertainment.

Revisit the synopsis below.

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(From left to right) Stéphane Bak and Marc Zinga in 'The Mercy of the Jungle.' Photo courtesy of TIFF.

Congolese Actor Stéphane Bak on His Intense Experience Shooting 'The Mercy of the Jungle' In Uganda

We catch up with the actor after the film made its North American premiere at TIFF.

When actor Stéphane Bak first got the script for The Mercy of the Jungle (La Miséricorde de la Jungle), he knew there was one person he had to consult: his father. "My dad did school me about this," he says. While Bak was born and raised in France, his parents had emigrated from what was then Zaire in the 1980s—before the events of the movie, and not exactly in the same area, but close enough to be able to pass on firsthand knowledge of the simmering ethnic tensions that underpin the action.

The story takes place in 1998, just after the outbreak of the Second Congo War—which came hot on the heels of the First Congo War. Two Rwandan soldiers find themselves separated from their company and have to make a harrowing trek through the jungle to link back up with their regiment. Bak plays Private Faustin, the young recruit hunting Hutu rebels to avenge his murdered family, a foil to Marc Zinga's seasoned Sergeant Xavier. As a Congolese militia swarms the area, and it becomes increasingly difficult to tell enemies from friends, the two are forced off the road and into the thick vegetation.

Their journey is physically difficult, but the jungle also nurtures them, providing food, water, and shelter. "The title is very explicit in a way," says Bak. It is the human beings they encounter, from rival soldiers and militiamen to the hostile security forces guarding illegal gold mining operations, who bring sudden danger and violence. The challenges are conveyed as much through the actors' physicality as through the minimal dialogue. As for the strain on his face, Bak says it was all real. "To be honest, it was very difficult," he says of the shoot, which took him 25 days. "I had to learn my accent in two weeks." Prior to commencing, there was training with the Ugandan army for realism. Due to the ongoing conflicts in the DRC, the movie itself was shot in Uganda.

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Brazil Has Made Yoruba an Official Language

The language will also be incorporated into primary and secondary school curriculum in the country, says the Minister of Culture.

Yoruba history and culture has an undeniably strong presence in Brazilian society, due of course, to the Transatlantic slave trade which brought millions of enslaved West Africans to the Americas. Despite the inhumanity they faced, many managed to keep their ancestral culture and traditions alive.

Centuries have passed, and Yoruba influences still continue to thrive in various regions of the country, as many Brazilians maintain a strong relationship with the language and religion. Its influence can be seen through the music, food and spiritual practices of various communities. Last month the Ooni of Ife—the spiritual leader of the Yoruba people—visited the country, where he was met by crowds of Black Brazilians who turned up to pay their respects.

This connection will likely remain strong for future generations, as the language has now become an official foreign language in the country.

WATCH: How Ilê Aiyê Brought Blackness Back to Carnival

Brazil's Minister of Culture, Dr. Sérgio Sá Leitão, has said that the language will now be incorporated into primary and secondary school curriculum, reports the Nigerian Voice.

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