Sophie Okonedo is a British film actor, singer, narrator, theatre and television actress.
Date of birth
She was born on August 11, 1968.
Family and Early life
Okonedo was born in London, the daughter of Joan (née Allman), a Jewish pilates teacher who was born in the East End of London, and Henry Okonedo (1939–2009), a British Nigerian who worked for the government. Okonedo's maternal grandparents, who spoke Yiddish, were from families that had emigrated from Poland and Russia. Okonedo was raised in her mother's Jewish faith. When she was five years old, her father left the family, and she was brought up in relative poverty by her single mother ("but we always had books", she has said).
Okonedo was raised in the Chalkhill Estate, part of the Wembley Park district in the London Borough of Brent.
Okonedo trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
Okonedo has one daughter, from a previous relationship with Irish film editor Eoin Martin.
Not yet established.
Okonedo made her film debut at the age of 23, in the coming-of-age film "Young Soul Rebels" (1991). The film was a historical fiction work, examining the youth culture of London in the late 1970s, and the interactions between different culture movements: the skinheads, the punks, and the soul-boys. Sophie Okonedo played Tracy, the girlfriend of the main character Chris (played by Valentine Nonyela).
In 1995, Okonedo gained the role of Moira Levitt in the first season of the prison drama "The Governor" (1995-1996). The series primarily concerned the lives of a prison's staff members.
Also in 1995, Okonedo played the role of the Wachati Princess, Ace Ventura's love interest in the comedy film "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls".
From 1996 to 1997, Okonedo played the main role of Kelly Booth in the medical drama series "Staying Alive". In 2000, Okonedo played a main role in the legal drama mini-series "In Defence". While originally planned to be a multi-season television series, the series was cut short due to poor ratings.
In 2000, Okonedo co-stared in the dramatic television film "Never Never". She was nominated for a "Royal Television Society Award for Best Actor - Female", for her role in the film.
In 2002, Okonedo played the role of the prostitute Juliette in the social thriller film "Dirty Pretty Things", which depicted the lives of impoverished immigrants in London.
In 2003, Okonedo voiced the role of Alison Cheney in the flash-animated series "Scream of the Shalka", a spin-off of "Doctor Who". In the series, Alison is a barmaid at a Lancashire village who becomes the newest time-traveling companion of the Doctor (played by Richard E. Grant). Alison also befriends the Master (played by Derek Jacobi), an arch-enemy-turned-assistant of the Doctor who is permanently trapped within the time machine known as the Tardis.
In 2004, the 36-year-old Okonedo had her breakthrough role as the co-star of the historical drama film "Hotel Rwanda", depicting the Rwandan genocide (1994). Okonedo played the historical figure Tatiana Rusesabagina (1958-), a professional nurse from the Tutsi ethnic group who helped over a 1000 individuals to escape the massacre. Okonedo won a Black Reel Award for Best Actress for her role. She was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, but the Award for that year was won by rival actress Cate Blanchett (1969-).
In 2005, Okonedo had the role of Sithandra in the science fiction film "Æon Flux".
In 2006, Okonedo played the intelligence agent "Mrs. Jones" in the spy film "Stormbreaker", an adaptation of the "Alex Rider" novel series by Anthony Horowitz (1955-).
Also in 2006, Okonedo played the role of Anna in the British comedy-drama film "Scenes of a Sexual Nature", an anthology film depicting seven loosely connected stories, all set in the nature reserve of Hampstead Heath within Greater London.
Also in 2006, Okonedo played the role of Susie Carter in the mini-series "Tsunami: The Aftermath", which depicted the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.
Okonedo's next films were the comedy-drama "Martian Child" (2007), the drama film "The Secret Life of Bees" (2008), and the biographical film "Skin" (2008). The last two films allowed Okonedo to be nominated for several Black Reel Awards, NAACP Image Awards, Satellite Awards, and British Independent Film Award. Despite the critical acclaim for her acting roles, Okonedo never actually won these awards.
In 2010, the 42-year-old Okonedo was appointed an officer of the Order of the British Empire, a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences. The Order was established in 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom (reigned 1910-1936) and counts among its members several actors.
In 2010, Okonedo returned to the Doctor Who franchise, playing another character in the most recent "Doctor Who" television series. She was cast as Elizabeth X (nicknaned "Liz Ten"), a Queen regnant of the United Kingdom in the 29th century.
Okonedo was limited to television roles for much of the early 2010s, but returned to theatrical films with the post-apocalyptic science fiction film "After Earth" (2013).
Okonedo's next film was the political drama "War Book" (2014). The film depicts British civil servants who participate in a war-game, concerning government reactions in a potential nuclear war.
In 2016, Okonedo had a major role in the mini-series "The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses", depicting the historical Wars of the Roses (1455-1487), a series of English civil wars involving rival branches of the royal family. Okonedo was cast in the role of Queen consort Margaret of Anjou (1430-1482, terms as Queen 1445-1461, 1470-1471).
In 2018, Okonedo returned to voice acting. She voiced Kanga the kangaroo of the Hundred Acre Wood in the fantasy film "Christopher Robin", a sequel to the Winnie-the-Pooh novels of Alan Alexander Milne (1882-1956).
In 2019, Okonedo played the seer Lady Hatton in the superhero film "Hellboy", the first superhero film of her career. The film earned about 40 million dollars at the worldwide box office, lower than its own budget.
Also in 2019, Okonedo was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2010, and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2019., for her services in drama.
Aoife is also employed as a Personal Trainer.