Jan. 1st, 1969
London, England, UK
Sophie Okonedo's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Sophie Okonedo, OBE (born 1968)is an English actress and singer, who has starred in both successful British and American productions. In 1991, she made her acting debut in the British critically-acclaimed coming-of-age drama, Young Soul Rebels. In 2004, she gained critical acclaim for her role as Tatiana Rusesbagina, the wife of Rwandan hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina in the genocide drama film Hotel Rwanda (2004).Her role earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, making her the second Black British actress to be nominated for an Oscar, and the third black Briton to be nominated for an Oscar. (Marianne Jean Baptiste was the first black British actress to be nominated in 1996, Jaye Davidson was the first black British actor to be nominated for the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor).
Okonedo was born in London, England, the daughter of Joan (née Allman), a pilates teacher, and Henry Okonedo, who worked for the government.Her father is a Nigerian, and her mother, an Ashkenazi Jew, was born in the East End to Yiddish-speaking immigrants from Poland and Russia; Okonedo was brought up attending synagogue.When Okonedo was five years old, her father left the family, and she was subsequently brought up in relative poverty by her single mother ("but we always had books," she has said).
Okonedo trained at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.She has worked in a variety of media including film, television, theatre, and audio drama. She performed in Scream of the Shalka — a webcast based on the BBC television series Doctor Who — as Alison Cheney, a companion of the Doctor. As well as providing the character's voice, Okonedo's likeness was used for the animation of the character. In 2010, Okonedo portrayed Queen Elizabeth the Tenth in the Doctor Who episodes The Beast Below and The Pandorica Opens.
Okonedo played the role of Jenny in Danny Brocklehurst's BAFTA nominated episode of Paul Abbott series, Clocking Off.
Okonedo also played the part of Ms. Tulip Jones in the movie Stormbreaker (2006) and Nancy in the 2007 television adaptation of Oliver Twist. She is also known for playing the part of the Wachati Princess in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.
She was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Supporting Actress in 2004 for her role as Tatiana Rusesabagina in Hotel Rwanda and nominated for a Golden Globe for a Lead Actress in a Miniseries for her work in Tsunami: The Aftermath.
She played alongside Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, and Dakota Fanning as May Boatwright, a woman who struggles with depression, in the film The Secret Life of Bees (2008), opposite Sam Neill and Alice Krige as Sandra Laing in Skin (2009) and portrayed Winnie Mandela in the BBC drama Mrs Mandela broadcast in January 2010.
In 2010 Okonedo played the part of Liz Ten (Elizabeth X) in the fifth series of the BBC's re-launched Dr Who.
Okonedo was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 Queen's Birthday Honours.
Okonedo has a daughter, Aoife (born 1997), from her previous relationship with Irish film editor Eoin Martin. They live in Muswell Hill, London. On her heritage, Sophie says, "I feel as proud to be Jewish as I feel to be black" and calls her daughter an "Irish, Nigerian Jew".
Awards and nominations
2005, Best Supporting Actress (Hotel Rwanda) [nominated]
BAFTA TV Awards
2010, Best Leading Actress (Mrs Mandela) [nominated]
2010, Best Supporting Actress (Criminal Justice) [nominated]
Black Reel Awards
2005, Best Actress-Drama (Hotel Rwanda) [winner]
2008, Best Ensemble (The Secret Life of Bees) [nominated]
2008, Best Supporting Actress (The Secret Life of Bees) [nominated]
2010, Best Actress (Skin) [nominated]
British Independent Film Awards
2003, Best Supporting Actress (Dirty Pretty Things) [nominated]
2009, Best Actress (Skin) [nominated]
2007, Best Actress in a Mini-Series/Television Movie (Tsunami: The Aftermath) [nominated]
Hollywood Film Festival
2008, Ensemble Acting of the Year (The Secret Life of Bees) [winner]
2005, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (Hotel Rwanda) [nominated]
2007, Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie/Mini-Series (Tsunami: the Aftermath) [winner]
2009, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (The Secret Life of Bees) [nominated]
2010, Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture (Skin) [nominated]
Screen Actors Guild Awards
2005, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role (Hotel Rwanda) [nominated]
2005, Outstanding Ensemble in a Motion Picture (Hotel Rwanda) [nominated]
- In 2005, Okenedo became the first black actress since 'Angela Bassett' (qv) in 1994 to receive an NAACP Image Award nomination for the same role in which she was nominated for an Oscar. Previous Oscar nominees 'Marianne Jean-Baptiste' (qv), 'Halle Berry' (qv) and 'Queen Latifah' (qv) were not nominated by the NAACP for the same roles.
- Has a daughter, Aoife, from a relationship with Irish film editor 'Eoin Martin' (qv). She is no longer with him.
- She is a graduate of Cambridge University.
- Invited to join AMPAS in 2005.
- Trained at RADA
- She is of half Nigerian/half European-Jewish heritage, but is a born and raised Brit.