A magazine for Africans and friends of Africa...Our Voices, Our Vision, Our Culture

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Nyambi Nyambi: Profile of a Rising Talent
By Ebele Chizea

He is young, ambitious and most importantly, talented. He is the new fact to watch out for in theatre and film, and he goes by the rhythmic name, Nyambi Nyambi.

Nyambi  was born in Oklahoma, United States to Nigerian parents. As a child, he enjoyed impersonating his favorite television characters, especially the ones from the 90’s hit show, In Living Color.  Nyambi explains that his parents would often dismiss him for “acting up,” but that it did not deter him from expressing himself. Ironically, he affirms he was shy and quiet as a child. He is young, ambitious and most importantly, talented. He is the new fact to watch out for in theatre and film, and he goes by the rhythmic name, Nyambi Nyambi.

In middle school, he participated in Oratory competitions, which involved interpreting people’s work. While in college on a basketball scholarship and with a business degree major in hand, he performed at the Martin Luther King gala. For this, he went out of his way to not only memorize the 1963 Speech that MLK gave after the racially charged Alabama church bombing that killed four black girls, but to also channel MLK. The experienced left him with a very exhilarated feeling. When a mentor informed him that what he did was act and not merely impersonate or “act up,” it gave him the validation he needed to pursue acting.

 

Since then, Nyambi, who graduated a year ago from NYU’s graduate acting program, has involved himself in many short films and theatre productions including Kulakuta, a theatre show about Nigeria’s socio-political climate under the dictator, former and late head of state, General Sani Abacha.  Kulakuta was the name of the mini-republic Fela Anikulapo Kuti, afro-beat pioneer and musician, created in Nigeria in rebellious response to the government. Nyambi, who is also a Fela fan, looks forward to extending this production into a film. In this, he hopes to explore the relationship between two political prisoners and how they handle their predicament. One of them using his imagination, while the other being more practical. Nyambi explains that the story carries both tragic and comedic tones. He is so committed to the authenticity of the script that he plans on visiting Nigeria to do more research for the production.

When asked about his goals as an actor, Nyambi responds without hesitation that his goal is “to capture and celebrate humanity in the good and the bad.” He also adds that he wants to tell true stories about people; especially African people. Chiwetal Ejiofor, Nigerian internationally renowned actor, whose work includes “Inside Man” with Denzel Washington and “Dirty Pretty Things” is his favorite actor. He also admires Sophie Okonedo, a British Nigerian actress who played Don Cheadle’s wife in “Hotel Rwanda.”

Nyambi eagerly shared with me that his career highlight was performing his dream role in the Broadway play, “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” at the Belasco theatre in New York city. This experience occurred by chance when one of the characters lost his voice. Nyambi covered for him, adding that it was “the single most amazing experience” of his life. He also described it as “a spiritual moment” gaining the love and support from the cast and audience. 

 Currently, Nyambi is in Philadelphia for a production of “Coming  Home” by South African playwright, Athol  Fugard. “Coming Home,” a play set in South Africa is about a woman who leaves her grandfather’s farm for Cape Town to pursue a career in music only to return after his death with disappointment, a secret and a young son. Fugard was hailed in 1989 by Time Magazine as the greatest active playwright in the English Speaking World.

Besides acting, Nyambi is passionate about sports including basketball, soccer, football, tennis and volleyball; in addition to slam poetry, old blues music and exploring and learning new things.

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