Sophie Okonedo is an incredibly talented British actress who also happens to be stunningly beautiful. She broke out with her role in (modern set) Hotel Rwanda, and she’s gone on to be nominated for numerous awards. Let’s run down her work in historical films!
Age of Treason (1993)
“Marcus Didius Falco must solve a murder set in Ancient Rome.” Okonedo plays “Niobe.” This looks HIGH-LARIOUS.
The Secret Life of Bees (2006)
Set in 1964 North Carolina. Okonedo was nominated for a number of awards for this, so why is this the only image I can find where she MIGHT be in costume?
Oliver Twist (2007-08)
This was genius: Tom Hardy as Bill Sykes and Okonedo as Nancy. This is the perfect kind of “colorblind” casting in the sense that were, of course, Black people living in Britain at the time, and while Dickens might not have WRITTEN Nancy as Black, the character/story works perfectly with a Black actress in the role.
A FASCINATING based-on-a-true-story about Sandra Laing, who was born to two “white” parents in 1955 South Africa. Her parents went on a legal fight to have her declared white, arguing her darker skin tone and hair texture were due to her mother’s African ancestry. It’s a sad, interesting story and no matter what Laing’s ancestral background is, it points out the arbitrary-ness of race.
Mrs. Mandela (2010)
A TV movie biopic about Winnie Mandela, famed South African civil rights activist.
A British “action-adventure fantasy family saga” TV series, based on the fictional tale of Sinbad the Sailor. Okonedo guest stars in one episode as “Razia.”
The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses (2016)
A big budget British adaptation of a number of Shakespeare plays. Okonedo plays Queen Margaret of Anjou (1430-82) in Henry VI pt. 1, Henry VI pt. 2, and Richard III (which, thank you Monty Python, I can only read as “Richard eye-eye-eye”).
National Theatre Live: Antony & Cleopatra (2018)
We’ve written before about how hard it can be for non-white actors to be cast in historical productions, so I’m including this adaptation of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra that was aired on TV.
Coming September 18 to Netflix, this is based on Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and set in the 1960s. Okonedo plays “Charlotte Wells.”
Death on the Nile (2020)
Kenneth Branagh‘s adaptation of the Agatha Christie story, following up on his Murder on the Orient Express. The trailer was just released, and there’s been a lot of opinions expressed! Okonedo plays Salome Otterbourne, who in the original Christie story is a romance novelist.
What’s your favorite of Sophie Okonedo’s historical roles?