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Nigerian Actor Sope Aluko On How She Landed a Coveted Role in ​'Black Panther​'

Marvel's Black Panther is already on the brink of being a blockbuster, as it already broke box office records within the first 24 hours of it's pre-sale. Beating Captain America: Civil War's record in 2016, Fandango reports results from a user survey, stating Black Panther was 2018's second most-anticipated movie after Avengers: Infinity War.

One up-and-coming actor who will star alongside Lupita Nyong'o, Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan (to name a few) is Sope Aluko. Come February 16, we'll see the Nigerian-born actor play 'Shaman' in the film. Her previous credits include recurring roles on Netflix's “Bloodline," NBC shows “Law & Order SVU" and “Parks & Recreation" and guest appearances on USA Network's “Burn Notice" and Lifetime's “Army Wives."

Her film credits include supporting roles in feature films including Identity Thief, 96 Minutes, Grass Stains, The Good Lie and more. Raised in the UK, Aluko studied acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA). Aluko speaks four languages, including her native language, Yoruba, French, and Bahasa, an Indonesian language.


We sat down with her to learn more about how she landed a role in this huge blockbuster movie.

Ezinne Mgbeahuruike for OkayAfrica: How did you land your role in Black Panther?

Sope Aluko: A local casting team requested me for a major role but I didn't get it. I auditioned four times and I had to be humble and try for a much smaller role because I wanted to be a part of the project. They kept interviewing me for different roles, so I was very happy to see that I was highly sought after. The casting directors made me feel very warm after a 5 minute ice breaker about my name. They honored the Nigerian way of saying it which made me even more comfortable auditioning.

Talk to me about your role in the movie?

I play a critical role by the name of Shaman—I can't say too much about my character. I know it doesn't help but it's all part of my contract.

How has Hollywood treated you as a Nigerian actor?

Things have shifted for the better. For quite some time, for an African actor, it was difficult. It seems as though the stories were not being told in a way that it should be. Hollywood had the version of Africa they wanted to present and package to the world and it looks like they've since changed then. Directors are now more open to casting real africans with real accents from different parts of the continent, so that's very reassuring. Notable names like Yvonne Orji, Lupita Nyongo and David Oyewole have made it easier for those coming behind to break in. It's cool to be Nigerian these days so it's a great time for actors in Hollywood because it feels like it's all finally happening.

How was it working alongside such heavy hitters like Lupita Nyong'o, Michael B. Jordan, and Forest Whitaker?

It felt very familiar and like home. We had early call times but I didn't even feel the long set hours because it was such a good time. I didn't feel like I was amongst stars, everyone was so down to earth and normal. During breaks we shared our testimony of how we got to where did and most of the people were testifying to God's miracles, it was almost like church.

What advice would you give to African creatives trying to break into the industry?

Go for it. But make sure you have plan B. I was working in corporate America after completing my MBA in marketing and branding. I studied the industry from the back-end while taking acting classes on the side. I was committed, which goes a long way when things don't always go according to plan. I think knowing the business is important—study who the players are and how it all works. Within the creative space, it's a marathon not a race. Learn from the mistakes of others and don't expect too much too soon. Treat the business with respect.

How do you feel about the movie's impact on sales?

Excitement and joy. It was a confirmation of something I already knew, which was that this was bound to a great movie.

Can you name some actors who inspires you?

Viola Davis, Philip C. Hoffman, Meryl Streep and my peers—Danny Glover, Denzel, Issa Rae, Ava Duvernay.

Are there any African actors you like or projects you'd like to be a part of?

I want to be a part of a Nollywood directed, produced, written and distributed film that is shot in Hollywood. I'm putting it out into the universe.

Interview
Stella Mwangi. Image courtesy of the artist.

Stella Mwangi: Hip-Hop Saved My Life as an African Growing Up in Norway

The Kenyan-Norwegian rapper speaks about the Hollywood hustle, the potential of East African music and what she's dropping next.

If it seems like Stella Mwangi is everywhere these days, that's understandable. It's nearly impossible to see all the rings she's throwing her hat into: her songs are getting featured in Hollywood and across commercials, films and movie trailers.

There's a reason why it's possible to stay on such a grind, to make it work after more than a decade in the rap game, and that's an underlying theme with much of what the Kenyan-Norwegian artist, who also goes by STL, does. She's charged with an incomprehensible current that would have burned out other artists. Even as I caught up with her, she was hours away from taking a flight to the filming of a reality cooking competitions in Norway.

So what is on deck for Stella Mwangi? As it turns out, seemingly everything.

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This South African DJ Is Creating a List of Toxic Men in the Industry She Won't Work With

DJ ANG is taking a stand against sexual harassment in the music industry by calling out toxic artists.

August is Women's Month in South Africa, and women around the country are using the opportunity to stand up against femicide, gender violence and sexual harassment on a national level.

There are many ways to protest, and South African DJ and head of SheSaidSo South Africa, Angela Weickl, also known as ANG is carrying out her own demonstration against sexual harassment in the music industry by calling toxic artists out by name and refusing to work alongside them.

"I will be including a list in every booking agreement from now onwards," the artist wrote on Facebook. "This list will be of artists who I refuse to be on a line up with due to their toxic and harmful behaviour. I will not share the spaces where we work to promote diversity, inclusion and safety, with people who harm and disrespect us. If a venue or promoter cannot understand my choice, then I choose not to associate with them."

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Watch the Trailer for 'La Negrada'—Mexico's First Feature Film with an All-Black Cast

The beautifully-shot film snagged the cinematography award at the 2018 Guadalajara International Film Festival.

This August, OkayAfrica shines a light on the connections between Africa and the Latin-American world. Whether it's the music, politics or intellectual traditions, Africans have long been at the forefront of Latino culture, but they haven't always gotten the recognition. We explore the history of Afro-Latino identity and its connection to the motherland.

This new film that recently premiered in Mexico City has made history in the Latin American film world.

La Negrada, directed by Jorge Pérez Solano, is Mexico's first fiction film portraying the Afro-Mexican population, REMEZCLA reports.

Contributing to the slow, but long overdue recognition of Afro-Latino communities on the big screen, La Negrada tells the story of two women, Juana and Magdalena, who are both romantically involved with the same man, Neri. The film was shot throughout Costa Chica—a region that spans along the coast of Guerrero and Oaxaca that's home to the highest concentration of Afro-descendants in Mexico—as Solano enlisted locals and non-professional actors to star in the film.

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