Activist | Actor | Entrepreneur
"From activism to entrepreneurship, storytelling is our greatest tool. Communicating a message to humans is an endeavor as old as humanity itself. Whether it's an audience of one or a million, together we'll learn to identify whom we're connecting with, how they may receive information that penetrates their hearts and minds, and how we can best become those storytelling vessels."
Activist, actor and entrepreneur are just a few traits to describe the multi-faceted rising star Gbenga Akinnagbe. Perhaps best known for his career defining turn as “Chris Partlow” in “The Wire,” Gbenga can currently be seen in the FX drama series THE OLD MAN from Fox 21 Television Studios in association with The Littlefield Company. He plays the series regular role of ‘Julian,' a highly trained special ops contractor sent to hunt down Chase, portrayed by Jeff Bridges. Written by Jon Steinberg & Robert Levine, the series also stars John Lithgow, Amy Brenneman, Alia Shawkat. He will next be seen in the features THE THICKET opposite Juliette Lewis and Peter Dinklage based on the critically acclaimed novel from Joe R. Lansdale, FAST CHARLIE from director Phillip Noyce, and BLACK FLIES opposite Sean Penn and Tye Sheridan, heading to Cannes this year.
Gbenga’s most recent TV credits saw him in a major arc on season 3 of Starz’s hit series POWER BOOK II: GHOST as ‘Ron Samuel Jenkins,’ and recurring on Hulu’s WU-TANG: AN AMERICAN SAGA as ‘Mook.’ He was also seen in Amazon’s anthology series MODERN LOVE opposite Zoe Chao. Gbenga previously reunited with “The Wire” creator David Simon as a series regular in the HBO series “The Deuce” opposite James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Set in NYC during the 1970s and 1980s porn and prostitution scene, Gbenga played “Larry Brown,” an intense and demanding pimp who physically intimidates his stable of women but also has moments that betray a conflicted, underlying humanity.
On the big screen, Gbenga’s recent credits include MGM’s THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR opposite Yara Shahini based on the NY Times bestselling novel; STARBRIGHT with Elisabeth Rohm and John Rhys-Davies; ALL THE DEVIL’S MEN opposite Milo Gibson and William Fichtner; HEART BABY with Jackson Rathbone; the comedy EGG opposite Christina Hendricks, Anna Camp, and Alysia Reiner; Kathryn Bigelow’s crime drama DETROIT with John Boyega; and Amazon Studios’ CROWN HEIGHTS, which premiered at Sundance.
The son of two Nigerian parents, Gbenga Akinnagbe (pronounced Ben-gah Ah-kin-nah begh) was raised in Silver Spring, Maryland and after a rough upbringing, credits his love of wrestling to help carve his path as an actor. Wrestling got him to Bucknell University where he graduated with a double major of English and Political Science and then worked for the federal government. Gbenga soon became curious about acting and started researching the craft and then landed a job as an extra on the HBO series “The Wire.” That extra gig led to Gbenga later being cast in the recurring role of “Chris Partlow” where he ultimately became a series regular for the last two seasons.
Soon after “The Wire,” Gbenga landed starring and recurring roles on such hit shows as “24: Live Another Day,” “Barbershop,” “The Following,” “Nurse Jackie,” and “The Good Wife.” No stranger to the stage, Gbenga performed in The Public Theatre’s Merry Wives, which aired on PBS, The Oedipus Plays at the Shakespeare Theatre and Romeo & Juliet in Washington DC, View From 151st Street for Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s Labryinth Theater Company off-Broadway, and earned acclaim for his turn in the one man show The Thin Place. His recent Broadway debut in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, adapted by Aaron Sorkin and produced by Lincoln Center and legendary producer Scott Rudin, earned him rave reviews and won a Theatre World Award for his performance as the accused ‘Tom
Robinson’ opposite Jeff Daniels, directed by Bartlett Sher, in this re-imagined adaptation of Harper Lee’s classic novel.
Gbenga has appeared in numerous films including THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123, LOTTERY TICKET, HEART, BABY!, INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE and as the producer and lead of KNUCKLEHEAD, which went on to win numerous awards in the film festival circuit. He also produced the indie film NEWLYWEEDS, which was sold at Sundance 2013.
Off screen, Gbenga has numerous projects in development as a writer and director. He made his directorial debut with the independent pilot DC NOIR based on material from George Pellecanos (The Wire, The Deuce). The pilot premiered at the 2019 TriBeCa Film Festival. Gbenga was also a writer on the popular Crackle series, THE UNKNOWN. He is currently at work on a memoir, and has multiple projects as a producer.
Gbenga has his own lifestyle brand, Liberated People, which has created powerful online movements like #OurSonTrayvon with various celebrities wearing hoodies and a percentage of sales going to the Trayvon Martin Foundation, an organization to end gun violence, and #PatriarchyIsABitch, where they donate a portion of sales to Black Women’s Blueprint, which recognizes the contributions of feminist freedom fighters. In addition, Gbenga can add interior designer to his credits as the founder of Enitan Vintage where he redesigns vintage and antique furniture in the same Dutch wax-resist fabrics that are a fashion staple in West Africa, which allows the consumer to “sit on a story.”
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