Born: 24 April 1964
Birthplace: Cotonou, Benin
Best known as: Rebellious slave Cinqué in Amistad
Djimon Hounsou got his big break in Hollywood when he played the leader of a slave rebellion in Steven Spielberg's 1997 film Amistad. An African with modelling experience in Paris, Hounsou moved to Los Angeles in the late 1980s to break into acting. He appeared in music videos (including Janet Jackson's "Love Will Never Do") and then began getting small parts in feature films and television shows. After a memorable role as Horus in the science fiction film Stargate (1994, starring James Spader), Hounsou wowed audiences as Cinqué, the central character of Amistad. Since then Hounsou has worked steadily in films, usually in supporting roles -- a guide, a friend, a villain -- and always as the exotic-looking black guy. His best-known roles include Russell Crowe's slave/warrior teammate Juba in Gladiator (2000); the friendly neighbor, Mateo, in In America (2002, earning Hounsou his first Oscar nomination); Heath Ledger's protective guide in The Four Feathers (2002); voodoo master and barkeep Midnite in Constantine (2005, starring Keanu Reeves); a mean-spirited mercenary in pursuit of Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson in The Island (2005); and Queen Latifah's love interest in the comedy Beauty Shop (2005). His co-starring turn opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2006 film Blood Diamond earned Hounsou another Oscar nomination for best supporting actor.
Extra credit: He has a daughter with model Kimora Lee Simmons.
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