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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.

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Listen To A New Song From Nasty C’s Upcoming Album

Something different from the Durban-born rapper.

Nasty C's sophomore album, Strings and Bling is coming out in just two weeks, on July 6. A new song from the album is now yours when you pre-order or pre-save the project.

Titled "Legendary," the song sees the MC deploy the melodic flow that's now rife in rap. And, as usual, lyrically, Nasty C doesn't disappoint. He raps about his rise into stardom, asking himself how his life changed so fast. "Legendary, I'm just being legendary me/ When I'm feeling humble, smoke some ordinary weed," he sings on the hook.

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This Is How Muslims Observe Ramadan, Tiila and Eid al-Fitr in Tamale, Ghana

The month of Ramadan in the capital of Ghana's Northern Region capital is one of the most beautiful times in the community.

Although Muslims constitute about 18 percent of the population in Ghana, in a Muslim majority area like Ghana's Northern Region—where Muslims are about 60 percent of the population—the religious climate is refreshingly different.

According to data from the 2010 Population and Housing Census recorded by the Ghana Statistical Service, this is the region with the largest number of Muslims in Ghana. The month of Ramadan for many people of Tamale, the regional capital, is one of the most beautiful months of the year because the it dramatically changes many things in the city.

Below, I break down how the holy month is observed in Tamale. And before I proceed, this is not the meat Eid and no, Muslims don't drink even water while fasting.

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Relive OkayAfrica & Nike's Epic Naija Worldwide Bash in This New Video

Get a glimpse of the fun and good vibes featuring Burna Boy, Laolu Senbanjo, DJ Tunez and more.

Partner content from Nike

Naija Worldwide, presented by OkayAfrica and Nike, was the epitome of summertime vibes in Brooklyn this summer.

Partygoers came through to The Well to celebrate Nike's triumphant Nigeria kits as Team Nigeria headed to Russia with style. In this recap video, you'll get a glimpse of the fun along with some familiar faces like Laolu Senbanjo, DJ Moniki, DJ Moma and DJ Tunez, along with our surprise performance guest, Burna Boy.

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