Adepero Oduye

With just a few major acting credits to her name, Adepero Oduye delivered one of 2011's most talked about performances in the gritty, emotionally charged drama "Pariah." The daughter of Nigerian immigrants who struggled to provide for a large family in New York City, Oduye put her own dreams aside to fulfill her father's wish that his children pursue medical careers. Yet it was also her father's unexpected death that made Oduye realize that life was too short not to pursue her true passion - acting. After getting her feet wet in the industry with appearances in student films, theater workshops and short features, Oduye gained career momentum with a minor role in the independent drama "Half Nelson" (2006). The following year, she landed a life-changing role of a young, gay outcast in writer-director Dee Rees' short "Pariah" (2007). When the coming-of-age film was made into a full-length feature, Oduye reprised the role with the raw emotion and depth of a rising talent capable of a successful career in blockbuster and art house projects.