Sophie Okonedo is a British actress, who has starred both in successful British and American productions. In 1991, she made her acting debut in the British critically acclaimed coming-of-age drama, Young Soul Rebels. She has received an Academy Award nomination for her critically acclaimed role in Hotel Rwanda, a Golden Globe nomination for Tsunami: The Aftermath, and BAFTA nominations for Criminal Justice and Mrs. Mandela.
Okonedo was born in London, England, the daughter of Joan (née Allman), a pilates teacher, and Henry Okonedo, who worked for the government. Her father was Nigerian, and her mother, an Ashkenazi Jew, was born in the East End to Yiddish-speaking immigrants from Poland and Russia. When Okonedo was five years old, her father left the family, and she was subsequently brought up in relative poverty by her single mother (“but we always had books,” she has said).
Okonedo trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She has worked in a variety of media including film, television, theatre, and audio drama.
She was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Supporting Actress in 2004 for her role as Tatiana Rusesabagina in Hotel Rwanda and nominated for a Golden Globe for a Lead Actress in a Miniseries for her work in Tsunami: The Aftermath.
Okonedo was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Okonedo has a daughter, Aoife (born 1997),from her relationship with Irish film editor Eoin Martin. On her heritage, Sophie says, “I feel as proud to be Jewish as I feel to be black”.