Tony Nominee Sophie Okonedo on her "Euphoric, Incredible" Broadway Debut

By Karu F. Daniels
22 May 2014

Sophie Okonedo
Sophie Okonedo
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Playing wife to Denzel Washington's Walter Lee Younger in A Raisin in the Sun, U.K. actress Sophie Okonedo makes a notable Broadway debut in the acclaimed Lorraine Hansberry family drama. 

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With a myriad of notable roles alongside the likes of Don Cheadle, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Charlize Theron, Jennifer Hudson, Colin Firth, Queen Latifah, Toni Collette and Will Smith to her credit, Sophie Okonedo has worked with a who's who of Hollywood.

And this season, she's on Broadway starring in A Raisin in the Sun, and she's among a who's who of the theatre world.

And although it's her first time on The Great White Way, Okonedo isn't new to the stage; In fact, the 45-year-old Oscar nominee is a proven veteran in her native London — starting out over two decades ago with the Royal Shakespeare Company and also working with The National Theatre. The lion's share of work has been with the Royal Court Theatre, where she has served on the Board of Directors in recent years. "I've done quite a bit of theatre in England… I was trained in theatre," she told Playbill.com.



But Broadway is another world for her. Okonedo is on a thrill ride with her critically acclaimed debut in Kenny Leon's latest revival of A Raisin in the Sun, currently playing at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre through June 15. "I am just loving every minute of it," she beamed about her role — playing Ruth Younger — in the fabled play co-starring Denzel Washington, LaTanya Richardson Jackson and Anika Noni Rose. "If I had predicted what would happen, I couldn't have predicted it. With this play, the joy I have of performing it, the incredible cast I'm with and then all of the accolades with it, it's really unbelievable."

To top it all off, she netted a Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role, among other treasured accolades. Not bad for her first time up to bat on The Great White Way.

"Well, if it's always like this, you're never going to get rid of me," she quipped.

In film and television, Okonedo is no stranger to acclaim; her role in the 2004 historical drama "Hotel Rwanda" led to an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Two years later, her performance in the HBO film "Tsunami: The Aftermath" garnered her a Golden Globe nomination. And just a few years after that, her performances in the British series "Criminal Justice," led to a British Academy of Film & Television Award (BAFTA). Her 2010 leading role as South African civil rights activist Winnie Mandela in "Mrs. Mandela" received a BAFTA nomination for Best Actress. Okonedo was also appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) during the 2010 Queen's Birthday Honors, a special honor that recognizes outstanding achievement and service across the United Kingdom.

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