What do Charlize Theron, Djimon Hounsou, Sharlto Copley, Neill Blomkamp and Gavin Hood have in common? They're all Africans, of course, and have managed to turn Hollywood on its head with quality filmmaking and acting.
And it looks like more African actors and filmmakers are gunning for a Hollywood takeover in the world of film. Just weeks ago Triggerfish announced that their animated feature film, Adventures in Zambezia has been picked up by Sony Pictures for distribution in English-speaking territories.
This is the first time that a South African animated feature has secured such a prestigious US distributor, and features voice actors including Samuel L Jackson, Leonard Nimoy and Abigail Breslin.
The deal will see the film being released by Sony in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia amongst others, with its title being changed to Zambezia for all English-speaking territories.
Regardt van den Bergh's script for his epic Jesus movie The Lamb has also received interest from Hollywood. The director has been toying with the script for ten years before he approached Hollywood producer Frank Yablans, who according to Sarie magazine, wasn't too keen in the beginning. The Godfather producer changed his mind after he watched the promotional DVD that Van den Bergh and his team made.
Nollywood director of TOBI, Bethels Agomuoh, tried a different approach to try a bridge the gap between Nollywood and Hollywood. Not only did he shoot the film in United States and Lagos, but he also mixed US actors with Nigerian ones and premiered the film in New York and Lagos.
TOBI's producer, Emmanuel Ijeh, said in statement: “TOBI is a movie that will further edge the face of the Nigerian movie industry on the rocks of brilliance and recognition. The film is born out of my conviction that Nigerian stories should no longer be confined to the walls of Nollywood."
There are even opportunities for filmmakers who've specialised in television production. Producer and creator of Intersexions, Zanenkosi Mahlangu has clinched a three-project film deal.
Mahlangu recently returned from Hollywood where he met with producer Alan von Kalckreuth, of Argonaut Films, to discuss partnering on several upcoming film projects.
This is after he had visited New York where he scooped the Peabody award for Intersexions.
Hollywood's eye is firmly placed on Africa that actors are finding it easier to access roles for international Hollywood films. Take Gambian actor Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu, for instance. The actor is set to play a medical doctor in a new Hollywood feature entitled Only Lovers Left Alive Together, directed by Jim Jarmush. The new film is a vampire love story featuring Oscar laureate Tilda Swinton and John Hurt.
Sankanu was elated in his statement to the media: "Some people either break their bones or sell their grandmothers to go to Hollywood. I am humbled that Hollywood somehow came to me,’’ he said.
The actor joins a long list of African actors who've tried to crack Hollywood. The only other African actor whose been doing relatively well in Hollywood lately is Hakeem Kae-Kazim. He has received a Gemini Award for Best Actor In A Supporting Role for his work in Human Cargo. His portrayal as, George Rutugunda, in the Oscar-nominated Hotel Rwanda established his strong presence within the industry and he recently got rave reviews in Akin Omotoso's award winning Man on Ground.
Even comedians are find a life of glitz in Hollywood. South Africa had a proud moment when Trevor Noah appeared on David Letterman, just a few months after he announced his move to Hollywood.
So it looks like it's only a matter of time before the Oscars and Emmys start rolling towards Africa. After all, Nollywood makes more films a year than Hollywood anyway.