Adepero Oduye

Adepero Oduye (/ˌædəˈpɛr ˈdj/ AD-ə-PERR-oh oh-DOO-yay)[1] is an Nigerian-American actress, director, singer, and writer. She is known for her leading role in Pariah (2011), as well as supporting roles in 12 Years a Slave (2013) and The Big Short (2015). All three films received widespread critical acclaim.

Adepero Oduye
Oduye at the NYFF on October 8, 2013
EducationCornell University
  • Actor
  • director
  • singer
  • writer
Years active2002–present

Life and career

Adepero Oduye was born in Brooklyn, New York, one of seven children of Nigerian parents. Although she graduated pre-med from Cornell University, she decided to pursue her passion for acting upon graduation.[2]

Oduye's breakout role came in 2011 when she starred in Dee Rees’ critically acclaimed and award-winning independent film Pariah, for which she received several awards and a nomination for Best Female Lead at the Independent Spirit Awards.[3][4][2] During her Golden Globe acceptance speech for The Iron Lady, Meryl Streep mentioned some of her favorite performances of the year, highlighting Oduye in Pariah.[5]

The following year, she joined an all-star cast in the Steel Magnolias television remake as Annelle Dupuy-Desoto, a role originated by Daryl Hannah.[6][7]

Oduye starred alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor in Steve McQueen’s historical drama 12 Years a Slave, winner of the 2014 Academy Award for Best Picture.[8][9] She also appeared in Ava DuVernay's short film The Door part of Miu Miu's ad campaign known as The Women's Tales.[10]

After several lead roles in regional theater productions, including Eclipsed and The Bluest Eye, Oduye made her Broadway debut opposite Cicely Tyson in Horton Foote's The Trip To Bountiful.[11][12]

In 2015, she shared the screen with Steve Carell in Adam McKay’s comedy-drama The Big Short, which won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

She made her directorial debut with Breaking In, a short film about a young black man's first time being stopped and frisked by the NYPD, based on her brother's early experience.[13] The film has garnered several film festival acknowledgments and awards.

In 2017, she co-starred in the drama thriller The Dinner, with Richard Gere. She appeared in the 2017 sci-fi action film Geostorm.


  • Vanity Fair – Hollywood Issue Cover (2012)[14]
  • The New York Times – Great Performances (2012)[15]
  • Time Magazine – Great Performances (2012)[16]
  • W Magazine – Best Performances issue (February 2012)[17]


Year Title Role Notes
2002 Water Woman Short film
2004 Fall Short film
On the Outs Adepero
2005 Law & Order Traci Sands TV series; Episode: "Birthright"
2006 Thee and a Half Thoughts Bodega Woman Short film
Half Nelson Crack Smoker
The Tested Mom Short film
Law & Order: Criminal Intent Jackie TV series; Episode: "The War at Home"
2007 Pariah Alike Short film
Wifey Kadijah TV film
2009 Sub Rosa Ayesha Short film
If I Leap Zipporah Short film
The Unusuals Regina Plank TV series; Episode: "The Circle Line"
2010 This Is Poetry Wife Short film
Tags Shayla Johns Short film
Louie Tarese TV series; Episode: "Dentist/Tarese"
2011 Men in Love Leo's Ex Short film
Pariah Alike Black Reel Award for Best Breakthrough Performance
African-American Film Critics Association Award for Best Breakthrough Performance
Denver Film Festival Rising Star Award
Nominated – Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead
Nominated – NAACP Image Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture
Nominated – Black Reel Award for Best Actress
Nominated – Black Reel Award for Best Ensemble
2012 Steel Magnolias Annelle Dupuy Desoto TV film
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special
Nominated – Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actress
2013 The Door L Short film
2013 12 Years a Slave Eliza Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2015 My Name Is David
2015 Artemis Fall Commander Aiden Collins Short film
2015 Outliving Emily Meg (Segment 5)
2015 The Big Short Kathy Tao
2017 Geostorm Adisa
2017 The Dinner Nina
2018 Galveston
2018 Wanderland ANAIS – The Master of the Wind Short film
2019 When They See Us Nomsa Brath Miniseries
2020 The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Miniseries; filming


  1. "Say How: O". National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  2. Adepero Oduye- Biography Archived February 4, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, Yahoo!
  3. Williams, Brennan (January 1, 2012). "The Power List: Adepero Oduye Primed For Hollywood Greatness". HuffPost. Retrieved October 24, 2013.
  4. Cath Clarke (January 26, 2012). "Hot Young Movie Stars: Adepero Oduye". The Guardian. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  5. Oscars (February 26, 2012), Meryl Streep Wins Best Actress: 2012 Oscars, retrieved March 16, 2016
  6. Nellie Andreeva, Queen Latifah, Alfre Woodard & Phylicia Rashad Lead The Cast Of Lifetime’s ‘Steel Magnolias’ Remake, Deadline Hollywood, March 19, 2012
  7. Erin Strecker, Lifetime's 'Steel Magnolias' remake: Watch trailer here, Entertainment Weekly, June 3, 2012
  8. Ruth Negga Joins Cast Of "12 Years A Slave;" Adepero Oduye ("Pariah") Confirmed As Well Archived May 25, 2012[Date mismatch], at the Wayback Machine, Shadow and Act, May 22, 2012
  9. "Style Crush – Nigerian Born American Actress, Adepero Oduye". Onobello. December 17, 2013. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  10. ""The Door" by Ava DuVernay Women's Tales #5". Miu Miu. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  11. Gold, Sylviane (March 9, 2008). "A Girl Lost in a Chasm of Race". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
  12. "Adepero Oduye Will Succeed Condola Rashad in Broadway's Trip to Bountiful | Playbill". Playbill. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
  13. Obenson, Tambay A. "Watch: Adepero Oduye Highlights Police Harassment in New Short Film, 'Breaking In'". Shadow and Act. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
  14. Fair, Vanity. "The 2012 Hollywood Cover, Revealed: 11 Thoroughly Modern Actresses". Vanity Fair. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
  15. "Touch of Evil: Cinematic Villainy From the Year's Best Performers". Retrieved March 16, 2016.
  16. Matutschovsky, Natalie. "Oscars 2012: Great Performances". Time. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
  17. "Best Performances". W Magazine. February 1, 2012. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
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