Cultural Confidence Panel


Panelists: Busayo Olupona

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Busayo Olupona is an attorney, textile and fashion designer, boxer, writer and podcast host. She is the founder and creative director of Busayo; an apparel company that utilizes traditional Nigerian textiles to create contemporary women’s wear. In addition, she has authored several pieces on the history of Adire, an indigenous Nigerian textile and other Nigerian textiles.

Prior to her life as an entrepreneur, she practiced corporate finance law and securities law at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. She has an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley and a J.D. from New York University School of Law.

Panelists: Prof. Awam Amkpa

Awam

Awam Amkpa is a Nigerian actor, playwright, and professor of dramatic arts. He received his B.A. in B.A. 1982 in theater from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria where he studied under the tutelage of Wole Soyinka, his M.A. in 1987 from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria, and his Ph.D. in 1993 from University of Bristol, Bristol, England.

Dr. Amkpa is currently a professor of drama at New York University as well as the Director of Africana Studies at NYU. [1]. He has also taught at Mount Holyoke College [2]

Special Guests: Gbenga Akinnagbe

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Gbenga Akinnagbe (born December 12, 1978) is an American actor, best known for his role as Chris Partlow on the HBO original series The Wire.[2]

Career

He played “Ben Ellis” in the episode Contenders on the TV series Numb3rs. In the summer of 2006, Akinnagbe performed the role of “Zim” in the NYC Fringe Festival’s “Outstanding Play” award-winning production of Modern Missionary.[4] In 2003, Akinnagbe auditioned for the role of Chris Partlow on the HBO series The Wire and starting in 2004 began a frequent recurring role. In 2008 during the show’s fifth and final season, he was promoted to a series regular. In 2007, Akinnagbe appeared in the film The Savages with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Laura Linney, and Philip Bosco. He appeared in the remake of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, which was released by Sony in June 2009. Akinnagbe made a guest appearance on a Season 10 Law and Order: SVU episode entitled “Hell” as Elijah Okello, a former Ugandan child soldier living in New York, facing deportation. Akinnagbe’s former The Wire cast mate Robert Wisdom also appeared in that episode as Father Theo Burdett. In 2010 in Seattle, Washington Akinnagbe starred in world premiere play The Thin Place at The Intiman Theatre.[5] He was also in the movie Lottery Ticket and is currently in The Good Wife as Pastor Isiah Easton.[1] His former co-star from the The Wire, Frankie Faison, portrayed his father on the show in several episodes. He is currently starring as Kelly Slater, a new nurse in the 3rd season of the Showtime series Nurse Jackie.[6] He will be seen in the lead role of Jack in the upcoming Independent film “Home”, directed by Jono Oliver. He is currently playing a drug lord in the USA series Graceland and stars as CIA agent Erik Ritter in 24: Live Another Day.

Writing career

As of 2009, Gbenga has begun a writing career, having had two articles published in The New York Times, one detailing a trip to Nepal to climb the Himalayas, and the other outlining the medical procedures he underwent to correct his severely flat feet.[7]

Special Guests: Kunle Afolayan

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Kunle Afolayan is a Nigerian actor and director. He is the son of the famous theater and film director and producer Ade Love. He is of Yoruba descent.[1][2] Afolayan majored in economics. Since 2005 he has been active in the Nigerian film industry. He has made several extremely popular titles including: The Figurine: Araromire which was in the Yoruba and English languages and Phone Swap which featured Nse Ikpe Etim and the legendary Chika Okpala. The Figurine won five major awards in the African Film Academy and experienced tremendous success in the Nigerian movie theaters.[1]

Kunle Afolayan appeared at the Subversive Film Festival in 2011 where he represented the second largest film industry in the world, the Nigerian film industry, with his colleague Zeb Ejiro.[1] In May 2013, Phone Swap premiered in France at the first edition of NollywoodWeek Paris and won the Public Choice Award.[3]

Special Guests: Wunmi Olaiya

Wunmi Olaiya, international recording artist and global brand, is the embodiment of cultural confidence. Her raw lyricism and musical performances have been described as “sensational,” “breathtaking,” “mesmerizing” from London to Tokyo to Bahia and feature an eclectic mix of AfroBeat, House, Jazz, Funk; likening her to a new-era Fela Kuti.  She’s made music and shared stages with everyone from Soul II Soul to Tony Allen to Roy Ayers.

Wunmi is as real as it gets, and her performance talent is fully matched by her gift as a fashion architect. Having designed for the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, Esmerelda Spalding and Susan Taylor, among others, her stringent commitment to superior quality, authenticity, beauty has made her own clothing line—Wow Wow by Wunmi—one of the most coveted ready to wear African fashion brands on the planet. Join Wunmi and other culturally confident ALAs (Africans Living Abroad) at NDFS Cultural Confidence.

Learn more about Wunmi here.

Special Guests: Adepero Oduye

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Adepero Oduye in Vanity Fair’s Hollywood Issue

“To watch Adepero Oduye … is to experience the thrill of discovery.” – A.O. Scott (New York Times)

Before we saw her as Eliza, starring across from Lupita Nyong’o and Chiwetel Ejiofor in Steve McQueen’s Twelve Years a Slave, Adepero Oduye brought us several powerful characters on the big screen and on Broadway. Growing up in Brooklyn as one of seven children, Oduye says she always considered herself Nigerian first. A former pre-med student, Oduye defied all odds by leaving the medical path to become a successful actor.

The second most amazing thing about Oduye, who the New York Times calls “a master of understatement,” is that she is motivated by a passion for telling powerful stories. In Pariah, her breakout film, Oduye played a teenager who overcame tremendous opposition to embrace her queer sexuality. In Steel Magnolias, with Queen Latifah, Jill Scott, Felicia Rashad and Alfre Woodard, she played ‘Anelle,’ a character who transforms herself from fearful and shy, to bold and true.

The most amazing thing about Oduye is what the Times calls her “megawatt smile,” which we’ve seen in Fela! On Broadway, Law & Order, The Bluest Eye, Trip to Bountiful and much more.

Come and meet Adepero and other culturally confident special guests at NDFS: Cultural Confidence on October 10 & 11 at NYU. Tickets