Jani Toivola

Jani Toivola

In 2011, Jani Toivola was voted a Member of the Finnish Parliament making him the first black, gay member.

Jani Toivola
Jani Toivola

The son of a Finnish mother and Kenyan father, he studied in HB Acting Studio, New York in 1999–2002. He was also the first black actor of note.

He’s been the host of ‘Idol’, Finland’s version of American Idol, a contestant on Finland’s version of Dancing With the Stars, and he’s been a spokesman for the Finnish Tourist Board, explaining what’s cool about Finland. He starred in ‘Heart Of A Lion’, a story about a local skinhead honcho, Teppo (Peter Franzén), who falls fast and hard for the beautiful, blond Sari (Laura Birn). The problem — she has a biracial young son named Rahmu (Yusufa Sidibeh) and an ex (Jani Toivola) who stops by often to see his son.

You can learn more about him on his official website and learn more about his story in this interview with PRI.

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Mary Oyaya

Mary Oyaya

Kenyan-Australian Mary Oyaya played the role of Jedi Master Luminara Unduli in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

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A modern renaissance woman, she has two masters degrees (International Relations, and International Social Development); has worked with NGOs on behalf of refugees in Australia; and has modeled for Gucci, Chanel, Sergio Rossi, and Salvatore Serragamo among others.

She has also been an extra in the movies–Lost Souls, Down and Under, and Farscape.

Tom Morello

Tom Morello

Kenyan-American Thomas Baptist Morello, better known as Tom Morello, is a Grammy Award-winning American guitarist best known for his tenure with the bands Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, and as the acoustic artist, The Nightwatchman.

Tom Morello (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA – SEPTEMBER 06: Guitarist Tom Morello performs onstage during ‘Rock Out!’ at Ford Theatre on September 6, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)

He was featured as one of 20 guitarists in Rolling Stone magazine’s “The Top 20 New Guitarists” article.

An outspoken political activist, he is also ranked #40 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and is featured in the video game ‘Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock’ as a “guitar boss”. Morello played on a number of soundtracks, including Spawn (1997), Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Spider-Man (2002), The A-Team, Battleship and  Pacific Rim in 2013. He was credited as “Additional Electric Guitar” in the 2008 superhero movie Iron Man and played a terrorist. He also appears in the movie Berkeley (2005). He also collaborated with John Debney for the score of Iron Man 2.

Interestingly, Tom Morello is the son of Ngethe Njoroge  who was a Mau Mau guerrilla and revolutionary. Morello’s great-uncle, Jomo Kenyatta, was the first elected president in Kenya. His mother, Mary Morello, who is part Irish and part Italian, is a founder of Parents for Rock and Rap, an anti-censorship group.

The man has a discography list that reads like a book sowe will let you read all about him on Wikipedia.

Atieno Williams

Atieno Williams

Kenyan-American Atieno Okelo Williams is Co-Owner of DC Home Buzz, one of the most exciting new real estate companies in Washington DC.

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DC Home Buzz provides Real Estate Brokerage services. They help people find the home of their dreams or to sell their current home. Their focus is on educating the community about the process of purchasing or selling their home, and making sound financial decisions during this process. In the past few years, they have expanded to include rental property management, renovation services and property development.

She received  the Jones New York Empowerment fund award in 2011 and plans to use it to establish a curriculum and a series of ongoing workshops that will help homeless women and women in transitional housing to reach the dream of housing independence by teaching them financial basics and then by building on that foundation of knowledge. She plans to use her non-profit arm, Buzz Hopes to achieve this goal.

She is an alumna of Pipeline Fellowship, an angel investing boot camp for women that works to increase diversity in the U.S. angel investing community and creates capital for women social entrepreneurs. Since April 2011, Pipeline Fellowship’s angel investing boot camp has trained more than 80 women, who have committed more than US$400,000 in investment, as stated on Pipeline Fellowship’s website.

Follow DC Home Buzz on Facebook  and visit their website to find out more about home ownership.

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Edi Gathegi

Edi Gathegi

Kenyan-American Edi Gathegi, a graduate of New York University’s acting program, is making a name for himself in movie circles. He has been featured in ‘House, M.D.’ and, from what we’ve seen, this brother is going to have a great career.

Edi Gathegi
Edi Gathegi

Gathegi is a film, stage and television actor. He appeared as recurring character Dr. Jeffrey Cole (aka “Big Love“) in the television series House, as Cheese in the 2007 film Gone Baby Gone and as Laurent in the films Twilight, its sequel The Twilight Saga: New Moon and Darwin in X-Men: First Class. He portrays Eddie Willers in Atlas Shrugged (2011), based on Ayn Rand’s novel of the same name.

He had a recurring role as Cole in House and has been a guest star in Lincoln Heights as Boa. These are pretty heavyweight roles and he does a great job.  In addition to these, he has also been in CSI: Miami, Justified, Red Widow, Family Tools, Beauty and the Beast, Into The Badlands, Proof, and Red Widow.

More recently, he plays the part of Mr. Solomon, a twisted, diabolical clean-up man for the Cabal in ‘Blacklist‘.  He is described as an unassuming and soft-spoken man, on the surface, with a hidden (and terrifying) capacity for violence, Mr. Solomon is a monster in gentleman’s clothing.  Executive producer John Elisendrath told TV Guide that Mr. Solomon will put someone close to Red in a position that would compromise the safety of others. He is definitely a dangerous enemy of Red and Liz. Gathegi is a recurring character on the show.

He also stars opposite John Travolta in the recently released movie, ‘Criminal Activities‘.

Keep up with his busy schedule on Twitter.

Lupita Nyong’o

Lupita Nyong'o

Kenyan/Mexican Oscar winner, Lupita Nyong’o has, as of this posting, won 25 awards! Talk about a breakout artist. Nyong’o is the first Kenyan actress and the first Mexican actress to win an Academy Award.

Lupita Nyong'o
Lupita Nyong’o

Lupita has been a production assistant on ‘The Constant Gardener’, ‘The Namesake’, ‘Where God Left His Shoes’, ‘In My Genes’, and the music video, ‘The Little Things You Do’.  She was Maz Kanta in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ and is, as of this writing, working on ‘The Queen of Katwe’, ‘The Jungle Book’, and ‘Star Wars Episode VIII’.

She has also been on the cover or featured in several magazines including Vogue, Dazed and Confused, New York Magazine, and InStyle Magazine, to name a few. In 2014, she was named “The Most Beautiful Woman” by People and “Woman of the Year” by Glamour.

In 2014, she was chosen as one of the faces for Miu Miu’s Spring 2014 campaign and has been a regular on Harper’s Bazaar’s Derek Blasberg’s Best Dressed List since Autumn 2013.  To keep up with her extensive interviews, modeling gigs and movies, become a fan on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and Instagram and keep up with her movies on IMDB.

Owiso Odera

Owiso Odera

Owiso Odera was born in Khartoum, Sudan to Kenyan parents.

Owiso Odera, Brian Slaten and Amielynn Abellera
Owiso Odera, Brian Slaten and Amielynn Abellera

He got his M.F.A. in acting from the University of California, San Diego and has been seen on the big screen (Acholiland (2009), Relative Obscurity (2007) and Orenthal: The Musical (2013)).  On the small screen (Blue Bloods, Three Rivers, Dirt) and in theater (Mercutio, Othello, Citizen Barlow, The Overwhelming, and Samuel J & K, to name a few).

He was recently in the play Two Trains Running. Set in 1969 Pittsburgh, the play tells the story of a local diner owner fighting to stay open as a municipal project encroaches on his establishment. His regulars must deal with racial inequality and the turbulent, changing times.  The reading was directed by Michele Shay and featured Anthony Chisholm, Ron Cephas Jones, Tracie Thoms, James A. Williams, Owiso Odera, Keith Randolph Smith and Harvy Blanks.

He has most recently been seen in “The Originals” as Papa Tunde. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter, and read more about him and his experience on his official website.

Yvonne Muinde

Yvonne Muinde

Kenyan Yvonne Muinde is an artist who was commissioned to play a strong part in the highly acclaimed ‘Avatar‘ movie designs. Her design portfolio includes being a matte painter (Matte painting is a painted representation of a landscape, set, or distant location that allows filmmakers to create the illusion of an environment that would otherwise be too expensive or impossible to build or visit) for such heavy hitters as’ The Day the Earth Stood Still‘, ‘Happy Feet’, ‘Knight and Day’, ‘The Lovely Bones’, ‘Jumper, Narnia: Prince Caspian’, ‘Star Wars – Revenge of the Sith’ and ‘The Fantastic Four‘.

Yvonne Muinde
Yvonne Muinde

She was awarded a Mural for the Blair Caldwell African American Research Library Denver Colorado in 2002; a 2010 Visual Effects Society (VES) award for outstanding matte paintings in a motion feature – ‘Avatar’ Pandora  and a  2010 Visual Effects Society (VES) Nomination for Matte painting for ‘Avatar’ Weta Digital; and has two paintings–‘Blind Faith’ and ‘Freedoms Fighters’–donated by a collector to the ‘The Chemistry of Color’ collection at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

What she says about herself:

I am a painter and feature films matte painter based currently in Wellington New Zealand. There are three things, for me, which as an artist I try to understand before I can truly take on the responsibility of communicating to or invoking a reaction from my intended audience.

The three points of my focus are challenge, truth and evolution. As an artist I challenge myself first to push my painting skills and other mediums that I work in to be more technically sound and to express artistically the message through the work that will make the viewer see more than just the subject in the painting but also the stories and the emotions that is intended through the mood and style of the medium.

Challenging the viewer of my art to accept me as a painter without attempting to place me in a stereotypical category has been the biggest challenge to date. I am an artist, a painter, a woman and an African. I paint that which is closest to my heart and the things that are most familiar to me. These images can and will be from all the experiences that I have gained in my travels around the world.

Truth is the second thing that I must understand before I can truly paint with full confidence. The truth I know is that not all things are as simple as they seem. Not all art, is meant to be understood with a glance and for as long as I paint I will forever be working as an artist that is not afraid to tell a story no matter what the subject matter is that is expressed.

Evolution is the last and hardest of the three things I as an artist must understand because before I can evolve into the artist I wish to be, I must challenge my own truth to eventually grow into the painter that not just my friends but also the entire body of people that see my work can respect, interpret and appreciate.

Here is a list of films she has worked on.  You can visit her official website for more information about her.