It’s amazing how immensely well-talented individuals spring up from a continent marked as underdeveloped. Africa indeed boasts of many Africans who have given their best in the development of some sectors of other countries in other continents of the world. A continent that is regarded as third world Africa has sure produced people without whom the world would not be where it is today. The success journey of Hollywood can not be complete without mentioning some Africans who have contributed immensely to its growth. One of such people is Obba Babatunde.
Biography – Who is Obba Babatunde?
Obba Babatunde (some sources cite his original name as Donald Cohen), is an American actor of stage and screen. Born and raised in Jamaica, Babatunde came up with his current name “Obba Babatunde” when he discovered he was of Nigerian descent. The name Obba which means “King” and Babatunde which also means “Father has returned again” shows that he has link to the Yoruba tribe in the Western Part of Nigeria.
It is also said that Babatunde has from the young age of six revealed his talent as an entertainer as he performed, sang and danced on stage shows for his family. By age 14, he could successfully play 10 brass instruments.
Do you know that Babatunde’s great-grandfather, grandfather, father, and one of his sons were all born on the same day? That is one of the rarest but most unique coincidences one can ever have. Babatunde graduated from Jamaica High School in 1969 after which he, along with his brother (Akin), began working as a teacher and administrator at the Harriet Tubman School, a private school for children of color.
While teaching, Babatunde never let go of his love for acting, he appeared on off-off-Broadway and off-Broadway shows. He also worked as a voice-over artist for television commercials. When his acting commitments became more demanding, he dropped his teaching job in order to face his acting career.
He began his acting career on stage in the original Broadway production of Dreamgirls. Obba Babatundé is known as one of the busiest actors in Hollywood, juggling careers in film, television and stage. Currently, he is married with two children.
His Role in the Entertainment World
When it comes to stage performances, there is always someone who can step on stage and steal the whole show. This is the exact true description of Obba Babatunde. While his film and television credits loom exemplary, Babatundé is no stranger to the stage. With multiple Broadway credits, he is probably best known for his Tony-nominated role as C.C.
In 1976 when he joined a touring company of Guys and Dolls, starring Leslie Uggams and Richard Roundtree and he regards his role in this production as one of his first major breaks. The next year, he made his film debut in Short Eyes, a prison drama. Ever since then, he has made over 100 appearances in episodic, films, movies, and Television series like Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Chicago Hope, and Dawson’s Creek among others.
One of the exceptional qualities of an actor lies in his intelligence to research roles and the ability to impart that knowledge into his acting to develop more convincing attributes of the character. This you will find in the character trait of Obba Babatunde.
He is an actor that has excellent reading and interpretation skills. He has keen insight into human behavior and can effectively convey the emotion that influences one’s actions. Those who worked closely with him described him as a great actor who is confident in his work and portrays that confidence both during a performance as well as in public to help create a rapport with the public.
Aside from his enormous role in Hollywood, Babatunde is also known as a self-taught musician and a dancer. His recorded work includes a performance with the New York pianist Onaje Allan Gumbs on the 2007 album Sack Full of Dreams and he is a highly regarded rider and trainer in the Rodeo Circuit, including the annual Bill Pickett Rodeo. He is adept at American sign language and has used this talent in many roles including in NYPD Blues. He also played the director in season 3 of Friends in an episode titled “The One with All the Jealousy”
Also see: Top 10 Nollywood Actors Of All Time
Indeed you cannot deny the fact that Africans are everywhere. They have a way of distinguishing themselves in whatever they do and anywhere they are. Obba Babatunde who has earned for himself a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for his role in Miss Evers’ Boys, is one of the patriotic Africans who are out at their best to protect the good image of the Continent. He is indeed a role model and we hope to see more of him in the coming years.