Idris Elba is the latest foreign actor to play a Nigerian in a movie - here is what we think about his 'Nigerianess'

Idris Elba is the latest actor to play a Nigerian in the new Netflix comedy, "Turn Up Charlie."

Idris Elba's Netflix show - Turn Up Charlie has a passable amount of 'Nigerianess'

"Turn Up Charlie" made its debut on Netflix on March 15, 2019. It stars Idris Elba as you've never seen him. The British actor puts his real life DJ expertise to good use as he takes on the role of a struggling Nigerian DJ called Charlie.

He is a one-hit wonder who squandered his money on fast living and is now living with his aunty. He takes another shot at fame when he agrees to be the manny (male nanny) to his famous friend's difficult daughter.

Charlie becomes a manny hoping that his friend's wife, who is a megastar DJ, will help relaunch his music career. What ensues is an occasionally hilarious, often sentimental sitcom.


Here is what "Turn Up Charlie" got right

One thing we can all appreciate is how Elba, who created "Turn Up Charlie" with Gary Reich, does not try to use a Nigerian accent. After years of so many Hollywood actors destroying our beloved accent (who can forget/forgive Will Smith in "Concussion"?), it's so refreshing to see someone stick to his lane.

Elba uses his real-life British accent, which makes sense considering the story is that his parents left him abroad to be raised by his aunt. His parents, on the other hand, do have Nigerian accents. While it is not perfect, their accents are passable for people who are supposed to be back home in Nigeria.


Another thing any Nigerian can relate to is the pressure to please our Nigerian parents. It's a well-known fact that most parents would prefer for their children to have more traditional jobs like being a doctor or engineer.

In order to keep pleasing his parents and making them proud, Charlie (Elba) has to go to great lengths to keep up appearances for his parents whom he talks to via Skype. He makes them believe that he is a big shot who owns a record label until the end when he comes clean.


Throughout the series, Charlie stays with his old-school aunt named Lydia, who does a good job of portraying a Nigerian no-nonsense elder.

Where "Turn Up Charlie" goes all the way left

Despite playing a totally believable strict Nigerian aunty, there is one scene where Charlie's Lydia had me screaming at my phone.

Spoiler alert: There is a scene where she makes snails for dinner. Instead of simply cooking and eating her snails like any normal Nigerian would, Miss Lydia proceeds to suck the snails. Eww, who sucks snails in Nigeria? No one I know.


Unlike the numerous movies with cringeworthy portrayals of Nigeria, “Turn up Charlie” has a believable amount of ‘Nigerianess’. That is except for that one 'snail-sucking' scene. That part is just unforgivable.

Let's hope they do enough research for season 2.


Unblock notifications in browser settings.

Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: