Aww! Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Sister Zain Asher gets Emotional on CNN about his Oscar Nom | Gives Brief History of Nigerian Roots

Zain Asher - January 2014 - BellaNaija

Promise not to tear up!

Truth be told, you will get emotional after watching this video.

Nigerians and Africans weren’t the only ones excited that Chiwetel Ejiofor got a nod from the Academy of Motion Pictures for his outstanding role in 12 Years a Slave.

His sister Zain Asher who is a news correspondent for CNN announced that her and family are over the moon about the recognition.

In the clip, where a colleague congratulates her, Zain delves into Chiwetel’s drive for acting, his survivor story and a bit of their Nigerian roots.


67 Comments on Aww! Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Sister Zain Asher gets Emotional on CNN about his Oscar Nom | Gives Brief History of Nigerian Roots
  • Chic January 17, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Best Ejiofor family interview ever!!!! so emotional! Don’t be surprised if Daily Mail or The Sun send someone to their village to look for that stream his mother fetched water at hahahahaha

    • Eve82 January 17, 2014 at 10:25 am

      Lol! The BN family FBI crew will beat them to that. I wish his dad was still alive. Good luck and best wishes Chiwetel!

    • CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM January 17, 2014 at 11:15 am

      Very true Lol!!!

    • Emi January 17, 2014 at 1:53 pm

      LOL!!! CHIC! LOL! I teared up a bit too o. Thank God for where he is now and I wish him all the very best of life.

  • SweetestTaboo January 17, 2014 at 10:01 am

    So where are all the people berating BN and others for claiming he’s Nigerian? His own sister brought up their Nigerian roots. You can be Nigerian and British!

  • Great Portland Street January 17, 2014 at 10:13 am

    So Zain is Chiwetel’s sister . . . I watch her a lot on CNN. Awwwww

  • Bisi January 17, 2014 at 10:23 am

    It started yesterday with Genevieve acting like a clueless child about the Biafran history and now it is Chiwetel’s sister today. What’s with all the bashing we dole out to Nigeria on a daily basis when we are as much to blame for the rot. I am happy for him but enough about the Naija bashing…it’s really unnecessary cos it just gives people the wrong perception about our country. Things are not perfect either in America or Europe….cos if you watch BBC Knowledge where they air program like the ‘Secret Millionaire, Undercover Boss’ and other enlightening programs, you will definitely see that the grass is actually not greener. Just my two piece.

    • Hadassah January 17, 2014 at 10:45 am

      What does that have to do with her story? She’s just stating their experience. Just like some Hollywood actors narrate their back story to fame. Attaching unnecessary sentiments to the family’s personal story. I tire o

    • jay January 17, 2014 at 10:49 am

      Exactly! i think the lady is just not a serious person. he grew up in a village in nigeria where they had to boil their water. How did he get to know shakespare and Othello if he grew up in a village like NIGERIA. What a paradox! I just cannot understand why people talk like this.

      • SweetestTaboo January 17, 2014 at 11:01 am

        She said their parents, not Chiwetel. Do you want her to lie about how their parents grew up? They are not insecure so there’s no need for her to dress-up the kind of upbringing that her parents had.

      • CovertNigerian January 17, 2014 at 11:13 am

        Please listen carefully before criticizing. She said her mom grew up without running water to emphasize how far her mom has come from those days to having an oscar nominee son. There’s no need to be overly defensive whenever Nigeria is mentioned in a way that’s not particularly flattering even though its true.

      • abbey January 17, 2014 at 4:14 pm

        Can you pls. listen carefully before you write anything at all? She was talking about her mom’s experience in Nigeria, not her’s or her brother’s.

      • Que January 17, 2014 at 4:25 pm

        Your biggest problem isn’t understanding pple like her, it is basic comprehension….I promise if u get that demon sorted, a lot of her talk will make sense.

    • BellaYankee January 17, 2014 at 10:59 am

      So her mother’s experience is ‘bashing’? Did you notice she said A SMALL VILLAGE not the main city in Nigeria?! She is referring to rural life and if people like you or Westerners can’t pick up on that then deal with it. You deal with your low self esteem and Westerners can deal with their gross ignorance!!!

      Thank goodness someone is celebrating their family progress.

    • CovertNigerian January 17, 2014 at 11:23 am

      I saw some criticism of Genevieve yesterday. All the arm chair critics should understand that she was asked to offer a personal opinion on events that happened in the 1960’s. It is not unacceptable that she responded by stating that she was too young to recall. All of us have notions of history, but how many of us can offer well informed opinions about specifics? Criticism should be objective and constructive. Also, Chiwetel’s sister said nothing wrong. We need to own our shortcomings and not be so easily offended when they are mentioned, especially in non-offensive ways – she was not being critical at all.

      • Sopono January 18, 2014 at 6:02 am

        Genevieve and her people need to let it go. You have become lazy even to act and we know this. Marry Dbanj and disappear let us rest. Back to Chewy Oscar baby

    • Mademoiselle January 17, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      Please, Genevieve’s ignorance and her/her brother’s success story are two different things! This is my problem with BN readers who just read/watch to comment and not read/watch to understand. Park well abeg! My parents like hers also grew up in villages with similar circumstances and when I talk about it, it doesn’t mean i’m berating my country or whatever. You have to be proud of where you came from and not insecure!

  • Sexy Londoner January 17, 2014 at 10:26 am

    This made me till tears (had to hide my face from ppl seeing ‘cos I’m at the office) very captivating indeed! I love you Chiwetel

  • omel January 17, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Sweet girl. She said it all.

  • lara January 17, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Awwwwwww, God kept him to fulfil his purpose……

  • Kenny January 17, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Congrat to the Ejiofor family. Hard work truly does pay off, what a remarkable achievement. To God alone be all the glory.

  • yostic January 17, 2014 at 10:55 am

    I’m so happy for them. Please Guys let’s not focus on how bad Nigeria is and how he wouldn’t have made it if he did not leave the country. Lets just celebrate his talent, and use this as an opportunity to encourage those talented people around us who want to pursue untraditional interests.

    • Chic January 17, 2014 at 1:06 pm

      He was born and raised in London. So when did he leave Nigeria? Google is the new think before you talk #thatisall

  • Muse January 17, 2014 at 11:11 am

    Very happy for him and the chance he realized he had given with his life saved. However i hate this I suffered in Africa before conquering the world, my sis u are right how did he lear Shakespeare in a Nigerian village?? Maybe she’s talking abut an experience in the village on christmas day or just life outside Lagos, it sucks!!! Everybody must not have sold bread or fetched dirty water in a stream before making it big abroad. Ihate it, they are or were by no means poor people or in that class, why?????

    • BC January 17, 2014 at 3:36 pm

      She said her PARENTS lived in the village. Chiwetel was born and bred in London. She is referencing that to show how far they have come.

    • sassycassie January 18, 2014 at 1:26 pm

      You’re joking right. My parents grew up in the village and
      yes they read shakespeare and had acces to books. Ignorance is not
      bliss. When in doubt, just ask

    • Dee-USA January 18, 2014 at 11:03 pm

      You should also remember that this period of her mother’s life was at least four decades ago, long before she moved to the UK and had children. When I went to boarding school outside Lagos (graduated in 99,) there were moments I had to use a “doro,” which was a small bucket made from tire rubbers to fetch water from a well to bathe. And I attended a military school with lots of governors, politicians and wealthy Nigerians kids. It was just a normal experience for our parents back in the ’50s and ’60s, and remained the case in the many small towns and villages that were not industrialized until well into the millennium.

  • luvbogg January 17, 2014 at 11:13 am

    @ Bisi There are lots of villages like that in Naija, I served in one. There is no bashing here she just told their story, everyone has a story. Its Air-head Genny you should focus on ‘I’m young!’ Like seriously? Is she even an actress *nymore? Moral. Lesson: hard work pays off!

  • Vicky January 17, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Had to watch the video before I pinky swered,boy did I cry?.hard work really pays.

  • Muse January 17, 2014 at 11:13 am

    typos…pls forgive

  • veer234 January 17, 2014 at 11:30 am

    How very sweet and touching… but she for wait make him win first. I have a bad feeling about this.

    • slice January 17, 2014 at 12:07 pm

      Winning is good but u also get increase in sales just by being nomimated

    • BC January 17, 2014 at 3:38 pm

      A nomination alone is a big deal. Coming from where she says they are coming from it must be overwhelming for them. But I get your drift though…..

  • Tomi January 17, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Everyone really needs to calm down and stop attacking her because of her mum’s humble beginnings. If she said her mum grew up in shabby neighbourhood in London, then it will be okay right? It just so happens that it was in Nigeria. This has nothing to do with painting a bad image about the country. Why can’t you all just see it for what it is- a grass to grace story!

    P.s. I’ve learnt a lot from this- pursuing your dreams passionately.

  • Make I talk January 17, 2014 at 11:40 am

    For people saying bashing, please! Many people did not grow up in Lagos or Abuja but had a Dream and had to work hard to get to where they are now. I totally relate to all she is saying, I’m in Europe, I work hard, but trust me, growing up in a “town” in Nigeria, I still went to get water from the stream, we still boiled it if it was too brown, and yet, I did read all Shakespeare by the time I was 15! We really don’t have to criticize everything

  • Chee January 17, 2014 at 11:49 am

    I really need to start working haaaard again,and I know it’ll pay off in d long run!

  • Cool cat January 17, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    I watched Chiwetel’s interview with “gay” Ellen (lol) yesterday where he almost didn’t even mention nigeria. He actually said my parents are Nigerian but I’m British. Many condemned him for denying his roots but I knew this of him long before now, the accident that is. He was visiting nigeria for the first time when the accident happened and he’s never been back, who can blame him really? Your first time in your home land as such a devasting thing happens to you. Personally I will never return. It’s not even the issue of bad roads because accidents can happen anywhere in the world but it’s the response of people and medical care available. Sorry to digress but I recently watched a video where a man was mauled by a lion, in India I think. Someone practically held the lions head away from the man, even when the lion managed to drag the man through the steel bars, snapping his leg obviously, they still tried. Eventually the lion was shot and the man was brought out. With all the blood CPR was carried out and this man came back, I watched it live, it was amazing. The story here is how we value human life. Sad to say but people stand and watch as people who may be saved with as little as CPR breathe their last breaths. How hard to we fight to save a life. What value do we place on the existence of the next man? None. Only God knows if chiwetel watched his father die, or how bad the road conditions were when the accident happened. Sadly his story is the same for a lot of Nigerians living abroad.

    • Samantha January 17, 2014 at 12:43 pm

      Half of what you have typed is wrong. He has returned to nigeria because that is where they filmed half of a yellow sun film which he stars in. Get your facts straight before you start talking please.

    • ozi January 17, 2014 at 1:01 pm

      If u feel Nigeria is no longer for you, that’s fine don’t return. Accidents happen everywhere even with the most stringent health and safety regulations. There are a lot of Nigerians abroad who wish to return home and contribute to rebuilding Nigeria.
      Personally, I strongly believe home will always be best. Nigeria is my home and the home of my children too, no matter where i go.

    • Chic January 17, 2014 at 1:08 pm

      “gay” Ellen? What does that have to do with anything?

      • looters January 17, 2014 at 2:31 pm

        I’m wondering the same thing

      • jummai January 17, 2014 at 3:07 pm

        Haba, why are you so myopic? So because she’s gay so she doesn’t count abi? For your info, she has achieved a lot more than you ll ever achieve in you miserable life.

      • Anonymous January 17, 2014 at 7:30 pm

        He/she did add ‘lol’ at the end, did you read that? Obviously it was just a side comment to his main point. Y’all need to chill.

    • Dee-USA January 18, 2014 at 11:08 pm

      He actually had gone to Nigeria prior to that visit and has
      been back at least once. But who cares? Maybe it’s exactly why he
      doesn’t view himself as Nigerian. My cousin came to visit us in
      Nigeria once when he was 16 and that was it. His younger siblings
      haven’t been at all. They don’t consider themselves Nigerians.
      These form of identification is normal among second generation
      Nigerians. You just make sure your children consider themselves
      Nigerians (if they are not born and raised there) and that’s all
      you need to worry about.

  • Iris January 17, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    Yepa! I feel like this girl may collapse if Chiwetel doesn’t win. Now I’m getting stressed on their behalf…but I still want it to go to Leonardo DiCaprio. They keep nominating him and he should have won for at least one of those movies; he’ll also deserve this win. It’s time he got his dues. All of you getting upset take a breather please. Did her mother not grow up without water? Was the boy not in an accident? Identity is a personal thing guys. You don’t get to force identity down someone’s throat. He could call himself British while his sister called herself Nigerian and it would be just fine. He probably doesn’t even have a Nigerian passport. After all Obama is American not Kenyan. It is perfectly acceptable for Chiwetel to say “my parents are Nigerian but I am British”

    • jummai January 17, 2014 at 3:28 pm

      Thank You oooooo, The titanic Icon desrves to win, and not some chiwetel.

    • Benashmom January 17, 2014 at 6:43 pm

      I am with you, I wish Leonardo would win, he has played in so many great movies and has been overlooked so many times. Chiwetel will have his turn oneday.

  • January 17, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Thanks BellaNaija for the video clip. Unlike those who have decided to dwell on the negatives. This interview has taught me to chase my dreams, no matter the circumstances. Chiwetel reciting Othello’s Shakespeare ? I need to forward this clip to my thespian colleagues in our stage productions. No more frowning at Shakepeare recitals and bitching about how Nollywood gets it so easy…. Our time will surely come… xo

    • 2X January 18, 2014 at 8:31 pm

      1000 likes to your comment! I came off with the exact same
      thing…my dreams are achievable no matter where I am coming from
      if only i will work hard and chase after those dreams. Some BN
      commentators need to relax and take a chill pill and stop being on
      the defensive over every mention of Nigeria.

  • Different Shades of Nigerian January 17, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    I sincerely think that belle naija had one of the most intelligent blog commenters so this I must defend my country until I die is ridiculously pathetic. You are complaining that Zain said her mothe went to a stream to get water, I bet this morning on your way to work, you probably saw little children lining up to fetch water (they most likely paid for) and that feels perfectly alright to you, innit ? Hypocrisy, ignorance is practically the only thing that is successfully passed down from generation to generation in our country

    Onto the most important matter, God bless the Ejiofor family, sister works for CNN, brother is an Oscar nominee, what an amazing family. Hardwork does pay off, thanks for reminding me to keep working hard

    Pardon my typos, using a small mobile phone

    • Anonymous January 17, 2014 at 7:37 pm

      Thank you! Thumbs up for your comment. This ‘defend my country till I die’ attitude is nauseating.Not because we shouldn’t be patriotic to Nigeria, but because people are just being unnecessarily defensive. If you ask me, I would say it’s inferiority complex at it’s peak.

  • D’Mamma January 17, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    Naija peeps n taking things personal sha…sighs

  • Cool cat January 17, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Errr, chic and looters, did you not see an lol next to “gay Ellen”? Well that seems to be a pressing issue now hence the qualification.

  • ColorMeePurple January 17, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    I guess I’m the only one who didn’t get emotional after watching the clip. Anyway, yay Chiwetel nonetheless. Been a fan of his since Love Actually.

  • Gee January 17, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Aww..very touching indeed!
    I remember watching Chiwetel in “Dirty Pretty things” and “Kinky Boots” and then “Four Brothers” as the bad guy! Obviously very different roles in each and he slayed them all! He is such an incredibly gifted actor and deserves all the recognition he is receiving.

  • Que January 17, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    Wow….I certainly got teary eyed cos their story reads like mine, n it could easily be me being emotional about my brother…. well nice to learn they r related, I wouldn’t have connected d dots without this clip…

    In related news, its just sad to see so much misguided comments about one person’s experience….. strangers have turned her single story into a national campaign…. what has her mother’s village life cum london living, got to do with ‘…Naija bashing…’ and ‘…giving a wrong perception of our country…’…. If you cannot own up to your country’s shortcomings together with its successes, then that is your own problem…. The life she depicted to be her mother’s experience is still d reality of many nigerians today, so what exactly are you in denial for, isn’t that just stupidity to deny existing realities….

    Then some were questioning how he could have accessed Shakespeare’s works in his village (even though thats a lack of comprehension on their part, but for arguments sake lets assume it was chiwetel in d village…)… yes this isnt an impossible occurence either…. Shakespeare wrote for a living, books have been travelling for centuries…. so how is dis impossible… my father would be almost 2 decades older than chiwetel, a village kid with no secondary school education as his parents couldn’t afford it, n he got by on the books his uneducated mother would fight to get n bring for him n these weren’t all local story books,…long story short….it prepared him well enough to ace the state n national exams n get scholarship to uni (I’ve seen paper evidence to back d story, so dis isn’t typical parents topping class tale), n the outcome of his life is nothing short of inspiring….. so reading renowned works in villages no be magic pls…educate yourself!

    Denying the grassy days of your life doesn’t make you posh n civilised, it only makes you an insecure, inadequate n ungrateful adult…. If it is your story/experience, its your right to OWN it n share as you please, as long as you’re not lying. If you’re so embarassed for nigeria n would rather gloss over certain realities, I hope your embarassment motivates you to at least go be a part of changing d realities to match the story you would rather have told about you!!!

    • Anonymous January 17, 2014 at 7:45 pm

      love your comment. Everything is spot on! So many unnecessary and misguided comments all in the name of feigning patriotism.

  • nene January 17, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    can we blame him if he doesn’t claim nigeria. it’s all in the upbringing. if your parents teach you about where u r from, u will learn t love that place if they tell you good things. i have cousins who have nigerian parents, but they don’t care about nigeria because their parents never told them about nigeria, and they have never been to nigeria. either way, i’m happy for the ejiofor family.

  • ivie oronsaye January 17, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    Well said… money can’t buy experience. inspiring story I pray we all get to tell our success stories also.. Am happy for the Ejiofor family too… one step at a time..hardwork pays!

  • FJD January 17, 2014 at 6:00 pm


  • Ohmine January 17, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    @cool cat wots is the meaning of “gay Ellen lol” U just displayed how shallow u are. What has that got to do when u are making reference to the interview. smh

  • Dr. N January 17, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    He says he’s british but at least he still bears his Igbo name. Some of us are trying to make our names as unnigerian as possible. Lol. Yay to his nom.

  • omo January 18, 2014 at 12:43 am

    Wowww… I’m so surprised to hear Zain is chiwetel’s sister. I See her a lot on CNN doing her thing & didn’t even know that part about her. So proud of her and her brother chiwetel. May God continue to bless u guy’s hustle… one luv!!!

  • NNENNE January 18, 2014 at 3:24 am

    I guess being nominated is a big deal especially for Chiwetel, given all that he has been through.

  • Stephanie January 18, 2014 at 6:03 am


  • labelle January 22, 2014 at 10:43 am

    awwwww so Zain is Chiwetel’s sister, i watch her alot on CNN…cool!

  • Mehkism February 19, 2014 at 12:05 pm


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