Adepero Oduye is a Nigerian-American actress, director, singer, and writer known for her leading role in "Pariah," as well as supporting roles in "12 Years a Slave" and "The Big Short". All three films received widespread critical acclaim. In 2019, Oduye played the role of community organized and activist Helene Nomsa Brath in the Netflix miniseries "When They See Us."
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. 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. 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. The following year, Oduye joined an all-star cast in the Steel Magnolias television remake as Annelle Dupuy-Desoto, a role originated by Daryl Hannah.
Oduye starred alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor in Steve McQueen’s historical drama "12 Years a Slave," winner of the 2014 Academy Award for Best Picture. She also appeared in Ava DuVernay's short film "The Door" part of Miu Miu's ad campaign known as The Women's Tales.
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. 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. In 2017, Oduye co-starred in the drama thriller The Dinner, with Richard Gere, and appeared in the sci-fi action film Geostorm.
Oduye 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. The film has garnered several film festival acknowledgments and awards.
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