Raised in both England and his parents' homeland of Nigeria, Akinnuoye-Agbaje worked as a model while completing his law degree at King's College London. In the mid-1990s he embarked on an acting career, appearing in music videos and essaying small roles in 1995's Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
, in which he played an African guide. Two years later, Akinnuoye-Agbaje landed his breakthrough role on the gritty HBO prison drama Oz
. As the murderous drug dealer Adebisi, he instilled fear and fidelity in his fellow inmates with his unwavering stare. After he left the show in 2000, he became a formidable big-screen bad guy, landing villainous roles in action flicks such as The Mummy Returns
and Get Rich or Die Tryin'.
But he made his biggest splash when he returned to TV as the mysterious (and initially mute) Mr. Eko on the second season of Lost
. His run on the show was short-lived, however, and his character was killed off within a year. Since then, he's resumed acting on the big screen, including an appearance in the blockbuster G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
. Despite his career of playing intense, intimidating characters, Akinnuoye-Agbaje is known off screen by his nickname "Triple A."Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje Fast Facts:
- Grew up in London and Nigeria.
- Modeled in London and Milan before turning to acting (and after obtaining a master's degree in law); moved to the U.S. to pursue an acting career in 1994.
- Appeared in the music videos for EnVogue's "Giving Him Something He Can Feel" and Mary J. Blige's "Love No Limit."
- Nominated for NAACP Image Awards in the Best Supporting Actor: Drama Series category for his role in HBO's Oz in 1997 and 2000.
- The meaning of his name: "ade" (crown); "wale" (to come home); "akin" (warrior); "nuoye" (chief); "agbaje" (wealth, prosperity).
- Came up with his Lost character name, Mr. Eko, himself ("Eko" comes from "Elekos, Lord of Legos" in Nigeria).
- Nickname is "Triple A."
- Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje Awards:
- 2005 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series - Winner
- King's College London, London, England (LLM, 1992)