Cultural Pulse: Adepero Oduye

Introducing a new segment on – Cultural Pulse. This new segment is a weekly feature celebrating talented influential African-Americans in the entertainment and fashion industry. 33 year-old Nigerian actress Adepero Oduye is someone all should admire for her pure talent! This week we’re celebrating Pariah breakthrough star Adepero!

Pariah trailer

Quick Facts about Adepero Oduye

  • Pariah, a film Spike Lee produced and a 2011 Sundance Film Festival participant, is Adepero’s feature debut.
  • Adepero on the lesson she hopes Pariah viewers will get: “It’s a great time for the film to come out, to make people a little bit more aware of the issues that’s been happening for a while but many people haven’t been paying attention to,” she said. “Here we have this story that’s really specific, but it’s so universal. You take away race, you take away sexuality by identity and at the end of the day when you watch it I feel like you realize, ‘Wow, we’re all more similar then we are different.” –Huffington Post Black Voices
  • She was a pre-med student prior to turning to acting.
  • She’s a Cornell University graduate.
  • She was raised in Brooklyn, NY to Nigerian immigrants. Her father’s death pushed her into acting. “He had a master’s. He had a Ph.D. Eventually, he got an M.D. but passed away before he could really pursue that. He died young. He died suddenly. When he passed away, I realized why I was in school. Why I wanted to be a doctor. It was because of him. When he passed away it propelled me to really figure out what really I wanted to be.”- Denver Post
  • Her mother didn’t understand her acting career choice: “She didn’t see it as a profession. Acting was not for people like us. For her, movies were not for African or black people. I remember thinking, ‘Yes, mom, I know I am black but I still want to act.’ She knew instinctively it was going to be a hard road.” –Daily Beast
  • Pariah’s story touched Adepero’s mother’s heart.After Sundance, my mother was in Nigeria and she called me and said ‘Pariah needs to come to Africa because they are killing people here because they are gay,’” said Oduye, smiling broadly. “She never talks about LGBT issues anywhere. But my participation in this film opened her mind up a little more. If that can happen to my mother, anything is possible.” -Daily Beast
  • Her biggest nod came from Vanity Fair magazine which crowned her as one of Hollywood’s fresh young stars of 2012! 

Pariah film star and Cornell University graduate Adepero Oduye appeared on the Mario Testino-shot cover of the coveted 18th annual Hollywood Issue for Vanity Fair Magazine. Each year the publication annouces their picks for Hollywood’s next generation of it girls. The shining recognition comes fresh off the heels of critically-acclaimed buzz the young Nigerian actress has received for her starring role in Pariah! When asked about the praise surrounding her performance in Pariah, Adepero said, “This is the beginning of a dream come true. It’s been so surreal and overwhelming, but in a good way.”

From the Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue:

January 2012: Adepero Oduye

Provenance: Brooklyn, New York. Age: 33. Is there a doctor in the house? The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, Oduye, who had always planned to be a doctor, graduated pre-med from Cornell. A convert to acting: After seeing Robert Duvall in The Apostle, her new path was decided. “I remember thinking to myself, This is why I want to be an actor. I want to be able to tell stories that mean something to people. I definitely feel like this is my purpose in life.” Try telling that to her mom: When Oduye told her mother about her career plans, “it was as if I was talking a foreign language. She was like, ‘Something happened to you—you’re crazy!’ But as long as I’m happy, she’s happy.” Plenty to be happy about: Last year’s Sundance Film Festival saw Oduye’s latest film, Pariah, become the critics’ darling. “This is the beginning of a dream come true,” she says. “It’s been so surreal and overwhelming, but in a good way.” And with Pariah’s release scheduled for December, more good things are sure to come.

Photograph by Ben Hassett.

Oduye wears a dress by Donna Karan New York; earrings by De Beers. See complete credits. VANITY FAIR

Judging by all the well-deserved praise Pariah has received and her recent Vanity Fair magazine cover, we predict more roles for Adepero in 2012. Maybe famed novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie might cast her in her next book-to-film adaptation? Hint, hint! 

Cultural Pulse is a weekly feature celebrating talented influential African-Americans in the entertainment and fashion industry. 


About culturaltoast

Cultural Toast is a blogazine run by Chioma, a Nigerian Metropolitan-based fashion writer. This blogazine celebrates with a cultural toast to a post-1960 Nigeria with its focus on entertainment and fashion news. African fashion, style and trends will be readily available on

Posted on February 7, 2012, in Adepero Oduye, African Actress, Cultural Pulse and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Great post!! So visual! I haven’t seen “Pariah” but I keep hearing how amazing she was in it. How wonderful for her, too. It’s always so great to see a young African woman’s hard work pay off, especially when she’s my fellow Naija chic 🙂

    Stunning spread, Chioma

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