Sophie Okonedo

b. August 11, 1968

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Sophie Okonedo until we are able to commission a full entry.

Actress Sophie Okonedo at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival.

Courtesy of gdcgraphics

Sophie Okonedo credits her heritage as a “North London, working-class, black, Jewish girl” with giving her the range to act in roles ranging from Hotel Rwanda to Doctor Who. Okonedo dropped out of school at age sixteen but returned to study at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. She began playing bit parts in 1991 in various BBC series before landing a recurring role on The Governor in 1995. She first came to the attention of American audiences in Hotel Rwanda in 2004 and The Secret Life of Bees in 2008, for which she won a Golden Globe as part of its Best Ensemble Cast. She played Queen Elizabeth X on Doctor Who in 2010 and played Queen Margaret, wife of Henry VI, in the 2016 series of The Hollow Crown. In 2014 she won a Tony Award for her role as Ruth Younger in the Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun. Okonedo played Cleopatra in the 2018 Royal National Theatre production of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, for which she won both the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actress and the Critic’s Circle Theatre Award for Best Shakespearean Performance. In 2022, international audiences saw her on screen as Salome Otterbourne in Death on the Nile. In 2010 she received the Order of the British Empire. 


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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Sophie Okonedo." (Viewed on May 25, 2024) <>.