10 Things You Didn’t Know About Barkhad Abdi


Before appearing in the movie Captain Phillips, very little was known about the Somali born Oscar nominee Barkhad Abdi. In fact, some lovers of the film still do not even know the origin of this promising newcomer in the American film industry. He is one of the few Africans who have managed to tear the veils of Hollywood and establish their names. Because of his performance in the movie “Captain Philips”, most people are just getting to know Barkhad Abdi. Here are some 10 things you didn’t know about the Somali born Oscar nominee.

1. He is a Somali American

This combination of citizenship is uniquely strange given the relationship between the two countries. Barkhad Abdi was born in Mogadishu on April 10, 1985 but the family later moved to Yemen when he was 7 years old. His birth name is Barkhad Abdinasir Abdi. His father is a teacher, he is the second born in a family of four children: two brothers and a sister.

2. Moved to United States at 14 years

Barkhad Abdi’s moved o Minneapolis, Minnesota, US in 1999 when he was just 14 years old. This means his later childhood was spent in US this is probably the reason when and where he realized that he had acting skills. He went to school in Minnesota culminating as a graduate from Minnesota State University Moorhead. What he studied in the university is not clear but he graduated all the same.

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3. He is a former shopkeeper

This famous actor was once a shopkeeper who sold mobile phones for his brother at a shop in a mall in Minnesota. Whether he was doing this as part of his responsibility to a family business or to earn some money to help with his daily financial needs while out of college is not entirely clear. It is also not clear for how long he did the business.

4. He worked as a limo driver and a disc jockey

Barkhad Abdi worked as a limousine driver at a chauffeur company belonging to one of his relatives, also living in the United States. His love for music and entertainment made him to learn how to be disc jockey or DJ just before entering the film industry. This means that Barkhad Abdinasir Abdi is also a good entertainer.

5. Served as an Ambassador for the NGO Adeso

At one point this new but fast gaining in popularity Hollywood actor served as the ambassador for the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Adeso run by the environmentalist Fatima Jibrell who is also a Somali. Adeso is an NGO headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya and deals with women, youth and pastoralism in Eastern African countries of Somalia, Kenya and Southern Sudan although it started from grassroots in Badhan, a town in Somalia.

 6. Captain Phillips is his debut film

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At the age of 28 years, this is the debut film of Barkhad Abdinasir Abdi, which aired in 2013 and catapulted him to popularity. He had no prior experiences or even aspirations to become an actor and a film director. He played the role of being a ship hijacker and leader of pirates, Abduwali Muse. If you have ever watched the movie Captain Phillips, then you know that he nailed the role he was given on the head.

7. He is a nominee or a variety of awards

You may know that Abdi was nominated for Oscar Awards. However, he has also received nominations for a number of other awards including Screen Actors Guild Award or the Best Supporting Actor, Academy Award for the Best Supporting Actor as well as Golden Globe Award. Abdi won the BAFTA award for Best Supporting Actor. He was compensated with a whopping $65,000 for the role he played in Captain Phillips movie.

8. Does other things in the film industry

Barkhad Abdi arrives at the 19th annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards in Santa Monica

Barkhad Abdi is not just an actor he is also a film director and video music director. He is currently directing a film going by the name Ciyaalka Xaafada, which I believe is a Somali film. He has also directed various music videos. Abdi is reading a script for a television show as of January 2014 giving the speculation that we are just about to watch him again in a TV show.

 9. Post movie business

After finishing with producing Captain Philip, Abdi went back to Minnesota to work at his brother’s store. He also intimated early in January that he would relocate to Los Angeles to concentrate on his acting career.

10. He has rubbed shoulders with authorities

On August 18, 2012, Abdi was arrested and charged with drug possession. While a limousine driver, he was jailed two times with a variety of offences ranging from giving traffic police a fraudulent identification to card fraud.

See Also: 

10 Popular Hollywood Actors Who Are Actually Africans

10 Popular Hollywood Actresses Who Are Actually Africans