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Let’s Talk About Lupita & Chiwetel’s Co-Star, Adepero Oduye



Adepero on BellaNAIJA

“Let me weep, Solomon”. Just that scene made Adepero Oduye simply unforgettable in Steve McQueen‘s 12 Years a Slave.

Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o weren’t the only Africans in the Best Picture Academy Award winning movie.

Meet Adepero Oduye, an American-Nigerian actress. If you’ve seen the movie, she’s that woman who couldn’t stop crying

Adepero starred as Eliza in the film. Eliza was separated from her children when a white man bought her from her slave master.

Although it was a supporting role, Adepero played to the critical acclaim the role of a heartbroken mother who is struggling to move on knowing she will never see her children again.

Fun Facts about Adepero Oduye
Quickie on Background
Adepero is one of seven children to Nigerian parents. She was a pre-med student at Cornell and graduated in 1999. After the death of her father, she took an acting class while in her senior year at Cornell, though it was too late to switch majors, the acting seed was planted! There are conflicting reports on her age, though she is in her 30s.

Her Breakout Role
Oduye became wildly recognized in the 2011 movie Pariah. Pariah is about a 17-year old African-American teenager embracing herself as a lesbian. Her role as Alike earned her numerous nominations including the Best Female Lead at the Independent Spirit Awards.

Meryl Streep Loved her in Pariah
At the 2012 Golden Globe Awards, Meryl Streep forgot her reading glasses when she accepted the award for Best Actress in The Iron Lady. She spontaneously mentioned a few of her favourite performances, one being Adepero in Pariah.

She was recently in Nigeria



  1. Naomi

    March 4, 2014 at 2:41 am

    Honestly this is long overdue. She was the actor that captivated me on 12 years… I actually stayed behind after the movie to find out what her name was. She was that good. This publicity of s thing is weird because she should have been recognised as well. Thank you for this.

    • slice

      March 4, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      Me too! I really liked her in that movie and I’ve sd here on BN before that after the movie, I was quite shocked to start hearing all abt lupita and not this lady…and I did nt even know the lady was nigerian so it has nothing to do with that. Adeporo u did an excellent job!!

  2. always happy

    March 4, 2014 at 3:22 am

    she is recognized……. have you not heard of “unsung heroes” ……. her role will fetch her opportunities for networking, learning , growing even without an OSCAR in hand..

  3. Opinion

    March 4, 2014 at 3:27 am

    Omg she was AMAZING!…I’m surprised she wasn’t recognized….geez! Had no idea she was a Nigerian, my bad…..she played the role soooo well! Welldone!

  4. Miss_Flygerian

    March 4, 2014 at 3:46 am

    Hahaha!! This is too funny. So why is this beautiful and talented woman just being recognized after all this time? Abegi, una yeye too dey smell.

    But mehn, her hurr is giving me excessive life.

    • Rick

      March 4, 2014 at 7:33 am

      Allow bellanaija. Hollywood declared Lupita a style star so of course Bella naija followed suit. Now they remember to “recognise” Adepero Oduye. Please.

  5. Olori Tari

    March 4, 2014 at 3:54 am

    Finally. Thank you BN !

  6. dayo

    March 4, 2014 at 4:09 am

    Lol….Nigerians sha. Do you know how many other people acted in this movie? Even Chiwetel hasn’t received much recognition for his role in the movie compared to Lupita. It’s Lupita’s turn to shine as God as ordained. Adepero’s time is coming soon. Hopefully sh’ll remember to tell the world she’s Nigerian (born and bred) not Nigerian American

    • Eclectic

      March 4, 2014 at 10:05 am

      GBAM!!!! After checking it’s God’s time for her to shine

    • corolla

      March 4, 2014 at 12:50 pm

      @ Dayo , some of you just make ridiculous comments here-it’s unreal! you can’t tell someone where they should come from.If she says she is Nigerian-American, then that is what she is.Its up to her to choose the two cultures that have shaped her into the woman she is today…

    • Tanya

      March 4, 2014 at 5:33 pm

      She is not Nigerian born and bred. My best friend dated her brother in high school, and she and I went to Cornell together

  7. oola

    March 4, 2014 at 4:28 am

    lol… I was still discussing this same cast member- Adepero, while watching the Oscars yesterday… I love Lupita…However I believe Adepero deserves some recognition…. PLUS she acted her role well in PARIAH.

    • Bidey

      March 4, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      She did great in that movie

  8. @edDREAMZ

    March 4, 2014 at 4:38 am

    Is gud to knw that nigerians abroad are really doing us proud…… Am loving her already….

  9. life

    March 4, 2014 at 4:53 am

    Funny,I actually tot it was lupita that took that role, the womna with the kids actually caught my attention too! What did lupita do really!

  10. Nwachidinma

    March 4, 2014 at 4:59 am

    Her time to fully shine will come. Just watch and see. I loved her in the Miu Miu campaign with Gabriella Union. See link below

  11. Nwachidinma

    March 4, 2014 at 5:04 am

    And there is space for all of us to shine. Love Lupita, Adepero Oduye and so many beautiful black sisters. Light skinned or dark skinned we are all beautiful 🙂

  12. tayo

    March 4, 2014 at 5:19 am

    Was she annoying or what? I wished I could put a duct tape over her mouth. Lovely performance regardless.

    A Ronaldo in Messi era few years back. Good luck girl

  13. ecente

    March 4, 2014 at 5:57 am

    Lupita probably looks darker and extremely african, and right now, these people need to make one very black looking african a big deal. Even me, am trying to fathom the reason behind why Lupita is so all-of-a-sudden popular

    • olori Tari

      March 4, 2014 at 7:37 am

      Loool. Amen to this especially your first line. Is it the darker and extremely African it is ? Might not be, but I must say they are making it seem like this. While, I do believe in Grace and that Lupita is a good actress.. it’s beginning to look like she won the Oscar because of her skin colour and hair.

    • Jo!

      March 4, 2014 at 8:39 am

      You spoke it!

    • yipes

      March 4, 2014 at 6:33 pm

      that natural look is what appeals to them white folks…in all that sea of white people, mullatos and bleached women she stands out!!!! plus she is educated, classy, talented,beautiful and well spoken. oh yes and UNCOMMON FAVOR from God.

  14. Nonye

    March 4, 2014 at 6:03 am

    every one has their time to shine. Its not her time. God chose lupita, just like GOd chose Matthew over a whole Leonardo

    • Elle

      March 4, 2014 at 9:04 am

      When it’s your time, it’s your time. Remember Frieda Pinto and all the buzz about her after Slumdog Millionaire? Her red carpet looks were everywhere then. Where is she now?

  15. Aibee

    March 4, 2014 at 6:07 am

    Really BN? We had a Nigerian (albeit American-Nigerian, whatever that means) in that moovie and it took you months to let us know? After months of forcing Lupita down our throats? I’m vexed with you all.

    Meanwhile, “Critical Acclaim” doesn’t get a definite or indefinite article. Artistes play to critical acclaim, not the critical acclaim.
    If y’all like, don’t publish this comment, seeing as you guys have been feasting on comments that don’t flatter you. At least you’d see it. XOXO

    • oaa

      March 4, 2014 at 7:03 am


    • Rick

      March 4, 2014 at 7:36 am

      Hollywood didn’t declare Adepero a style star so BN ignored her.

    • deedee

      March 5, 2014 at 9:14 am

      Mehn u just spoke my mind

  16. carla

    March 4, 2014 at 6:16 am

    Finally I been wondering how she was never part of the hype.

  17. canadian igbo

    March 4, 2014 at 6:31 am

    I still don’t see why chiwetel didn’t get an oscar. This guy put in work!

  18. Different shades of Nigerian

    March 4, 2014 at 6:43 am

    Gosh, Nigeria has talent. Truck loads of talent. But with the current state of Nigeria, nepotism here and there, you have a better chance becoming the next Lupita Nyong’o in America than the next Genevive in Nigeria. Why we make things so hard for ourselves baffles me

  19. Bev

    March 4, 2014 at 7:03 am

    Oho!!!!****claps hands over BN’s head and other Lupita stans heads* A Nigerian, a beautiful dark skinned, natural haired one with strong roots with Nigeria, who has been touted to be one to act her arse off was in 12YAS but una put Lupita for head de hawk am inside show glass.
    Even Uzo Aduba from Orange is the New Black (OITNB) is yet to get a mention.

    I have nothing against Lupita, but I refuse to drink the Kool Aid.

    In Mr. Ibu voice “una see una life”?

    • nwanyi na aga aga

      March 4, 2014 at 9:23 am


  20. JEWELZ

    March 4, 2014 at 7:30 am

    Wait! Why am I feeling as if people here are trying to sort of bring competition and a little jealousy between this two amazing women i.e Lupita and Adepero? What everyone needs to know is that there is a time for everyone and its clearly Lupita’s time. Every dog has it’s day and am pretty sure Adepero’s time is coming soon. She was arguably one of the best actors in that movie, I loved her!

  21. Ebony

    March 4, 2014 at 8:08 am

    The Oscars are not about how long you appeared but how well you performed. Both ladies are good but for this movie Lupita’s performance was better. Plus Lupita was in a “starring” role for lack of a better word hence the publicity Adepero’s was more like a junior supporting role that is why she went unnoticed. Lupitas name was in the opening credits hence the recognition

  22. Quirky

    March 4, 2014 at 8:27 am

    She looks like Woopi Goldberg. At least i think so. That African Elegance.. I love it.

    • Crossword Puzzle

      March 4, 2014 at 11:11 am

      She sure does. I think its the lips

  23. yostic

    March 4, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Sorry to pour some sand on all this garri, groundnut and ice cold water, but I wasn’t a huge fan of her acting. She made me feel like I was watching a staged play. Too acty acty for me.

    I know some voltrons are going to attack me now for being a talentless miserable hater who is jealous. I am not. I’m just someone expressing an alternative view which i can express as I please.

    It is great to see more of our own in such prominent roles. Congrats to her an Nigerians worldwide!

    • yes

      March 4, 2014 at 9:54 pm

      Thought i was the only one felt like she was reading this script. No offense but i think the academy and Oscar watched it and saw that lupita was more of acting that remembering it. For a scene like that it should have just be way more action felt. she didn’t snag the opportunity.

  24. choco

    March 4, 2014 at 9:39 am

    Long Long overdue!! Thank you BellaNaija, its soothing to know someone actually gets it. Lupita was good in her role, just as Adepero.

  25. Bella

    March 4, 2014 at 9:44 am

    BN’ers. ah ah. Guys, everyone is ordained as God seemingly sees fit for that moment. Is it because Lupita is not Nigerian and this Adepero and Chiwetel are? Time for now is not theirs, I am certain more roles are coming with their exposure and some even nominations. Leonardo Di Caprio anyone, how many times has the poor man been nominated with no wins, how many movies has he done, if it is not your time abeg, God has said so, take a breather , work harder . Your destiny is never denied, albeit a little delayed, Haba! please don’t start an unnecessary mess here with all this huffing and puffing.

  26. Chyke

    March 4, 2014 at 9:52 am

    While I think Ms Adepero doesn’t deserve an Oscar nomination for this movie, Lupita was so overrated. Lupita’s acting was too theatrical…..she overacted. Sarah Paulson did a better job. Lupita got the Oscar because they needed atleast a black actor to win in the acting categories since 12 Years A Slave was slated for less than five awards. Lupita was favoured for her looks and pitiable character in the movie (black actresses wins mostly when they play maids or something related to that). Lupita didn’t get the BAFTA and Golden Globe truthfully. Julia Roberts or Sally Hawkins should have won. Julia was the only good thing that happened to August Osage County….she was even leading. All in all, 12 Years a Slave is overrated. How many more slave movies are we to see in the future? I didn’t enjoy that movie. Django Unchained was better scripted. 12 Years was like a better version of The Help. Gravity should have won but I’m glad it was the most awarded film of the night. Leonardo Dicaprio would have been more suited for best actor than that Mattew guy.

    • Crossword Puzzle

      March 4, 2014 at 11:14 am

      Thank you very much. The movie left me hanging. I expected more. And yes, I think Lupita is so overrated.

    • hott

      March 4, 2014 at 6:16 pm

      how many black women get hyped up with praise in hollywood ? please people when a black woman gets the hype appreciate her…the next black woman maybe hyped in 2 years time, unless otherwise…Halle won that oscar becoz of romp scene…jhud coz of singing…Lupita coz of soap scene..Anne hathway also sang…Matthew coz of slimming down…i cud go on all day…its not about the amount of time you spend on screen, its those two secs you get and give it your all..and ammurrrica plus many africans were rooting for her…did you see the backlash after Lupita didn’t get the bafta…twitter was blazed…Lupita is the IT girl in hollywood at this moment , just like jlaw last year, and while some people hate on her remember there many more rooting and praying for her success. and we all know how that works>>> love always prevails !!!!

    • Divad

      March 4, 2014 at 8:46 pm

      God bless you I’ve been saying this since, the Academy does not look at screen time and even especially in the past few years for that best supporting role it’s about the few seconds you convincingly portray a scene that counts , Judi Dench won an oscar for an 8 minute role, there’s no particular hype for Lupita, asides the fact that she was convincingly good in that role with Fassbender.Octavia and Monique also, did anybody see precious and the help, there roles are what people here are considering as “over hyped” too but we fail to see .I’ve been opportuned to see an group of Academy members debate on an Oscar role in 2011 and I was blown away at the factors they look out for that we the audience have no idea about. That said, this Adepero girl is a brilliant performer, seen a few of her stage work and it was amazing, and she’s worked with Chiwetel before

  27. Blessmyheart

    March 4, 2014 at 10:08 am

    I didn’t even know she was Nigerian. She probably didn’t get so much recognition because her character, though she played it so well, was quite annoyingly heart wrenching.

  28. Wale

    March 4, 2014 at 10:26 am

    @ Chyka regarding Lupita, I had the same thoughts as well. Her handlers(her PR folks) did an excellent job marketing her. I am not sure her performance was that great. It’s all about hype after all, and they do campaign for the nominations. But I am glad we have the first African Oscar win. She seems like a well balanced person that will carry the honor well. I don’t see many roles for her in future though. After all the noise dies down, I hope she doesn’t retire to small tv roles as the token black. Her looks are not broadly appealing. But let us see how it goes.

    • imaslapyou

      March 4, 2014 at 5:42 pm

      @ Wale take several seats…hollywood finds her gorgeous(coz of slim features,big eyes,etc.) you and a few other crabs don’t want to see a sister go up…jealous much..stay pressed ..Adepero’s time will come!!!!

  29. Nominee

    March 4, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Oh wow! She was the crier in 12 years a slave? Mehn i been wan tell am make she shut up for the movie o! She too cry. Was please when Chiwetel’s character eventually told her to muzzle it. Very good acting by the way, not an overly prominent scene and she did it so well she got noticed!

  30. Alero Mii

    March 4, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    I love Lupita Jupiter Lupita cos she did Africa proud!!! Congrats Adepero

  31. fashionandstylepolice

    March 4, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    So she’s Nigerian. Wow. I loved her in 12 years a slave. Mehn she can cry sha.

  32. nollare

    March 4, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    I tire o my people. I have had to watch the movie twice to get an understanding of what the whole hype is. I am not saying Lupita did not act well, but dang she has been overrated. This Adepero chic killed her character. She was so believable. Yet I have not been seeing or hearing any buzz on her. I am confused. And as for BN you gys tend to over report the same news. IT can get pretty painful after a while. I know you wanna keep up with what is trending but sometimes it becomes a pain.

    • 'Laniks

      March 5, 2014 at 8:10 am

      Where is the like button??

    • deedee

      March 5, 2014 at 9:23 am

      hmmmmm, my dear those were my thoughts also, it got so annoying to see the same face everyday on BN, yeah we know she acted well but please can we move on

  33. Bide

    March 4, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    I love this girl too,since she did pariah, I’ve been a fan… she is good

  34. JT

    March 4, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Its YALE pple…. stay educated! End of story.

  35. JT

    March 4, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Its YALE pple…. the gurlll has depth…. stay educated! End of story.

  36. David Nwachukwu

    March 4, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    I agree with you guys on Adepero’s over crying. Think about it, maybe Steve McQueen specifically wanted that performance from her? Lupita’s performance had just the right amounts of soul and emotional depth while Adepero was just loud crying. When you think about it, Lupita caught the eye of critics for the unconventional less bravura performance.

  37. Miss Pee

    March 4, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    Kenyan parents be like “We have Obama in the White House. We have Lupita in Hollywood. And you’re just sitting in the living room glued to the TV. You are WASTING your potential!

  38. temtem

    March 4, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    I really wanted my Leonardo to win ohhh cos he’s longggggggggggggggggggggg overdue! ahn??? But I knew Matthew McConaughey was gonna take it cos his performance in Dallas Buyer’s Club was short of amazing! Wolf of Wall Street was pretty good too but Leonardo will get it someday, let’s keep trying Scorcese!

    As for Lupita, not sure how I feel about her but then again I never saw 12 years a slave definitely not watching it, and I don’t think it was as good as Lee Daniel’s the Butler. But I saw her in non-stop and I really don’t think her acting is all that…a little disappointed I must say.

    But I love her interviews and fashion sense!

    • Different shades of Nigerian

      March 5, 2014 at 3:20 am

      Comparing The Butler to 12 years a slave is like comparing Jonathan to Obama, lol

  39. temtem

    March 4, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    …and glad she took home the Oscars too!

  40. NNENNE

    March 5, 2014 at 2:16 am

    It’s Lupita’s time. When it’s your time nothing will stand on your way . She was out there too.That also helped

  41. Dee-USA

    March 5, 2014 at 6:32 am

    You start by saying fun facts about her, but the first point you make cites ‘Wikipedia” as your source? A quick Google search will show a few credible sites identifying her age (in 2012 when the articles were written) as 33. That would make her 35 in 2014.

  42. temtem

    March 5, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    @ different shades of Nigerian or whatever, who is Jonathan and who is Barack? I’m gonna assume 12 years a slave is your Jonathan and the Butler is Obama *rolls eyes*

    • Dee-USA

      March 5, 2014 at 9:36 pm

      And how can you make a credible assessment if you never watched 12 years? But you know for a fact that you prefer Butler and that her acting isn’t all that because you saw her in Non-stop, a role which she barely had any speaking lines? She filmed that movie before 12 years a slave came out so she wasn’t considered a major actor in it. Somehow you want to use 5 mins of speaking lines to compare to a an Academy Award-winning role that you have yet to see?

  43. sum1special

    July 21, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    She acted really well as well in 12 years a slave, wonder why she wasnt recognized. I guess everyone has their time to shine and it is Lupita’s time to shine. Adepero’s time will come.

  44. tami diri

    August 2, 2014 at 3:57 am

    Saw the movie,12 years a slave ,saw a Nigerian name – Adepero Oduyo. Had to pause to google the character…. mehn,she did great in dat role…great work…good movie…

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