Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

When Leonardo DiCaprio was starting his career as young actor, his agent suggested he change his name to Lenny Williams, because his name sounded “too foreign”. When Archibald Leach was a beginning actor, he did change his name to Cary Grant, which does sound more like a movie star name.

"You get my name wrong and I'll sue you".

When Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje was starting his career, he must have received similar advice. Amazingly, he did not take it and continues to be known by his rather wonderful birth name. Nigerian names have popped up before in our blog, but this one probably takes the Most Challenging Spelling of a Public Figure’s Name award by some distance.

Mr. Akinnuoye-Agbaje is not just an actor though, he also has a Master’s degree in Law from the University of London, making him probably the only person appearing in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls with a graduate degree.

Perhaps explaining his relaxed stance to people’s difficulty in spelling his name, Akinnuoye-Agbaje is a practicing Buddhist. He is sometimes referred to in film credits as just “Adéwale”, although it is unclear if this is a request on his part, or just the producers of the credit sequences giving up after the first three syllables.

About Arto

Co-founder of the Funny Names Blog, Hawaiian shirt enthusiast, and holder of a funny name himself with too many vowels for any sensible person. Currently residing in San Diego, California, scouring through obscure documents on a hunt for more funny names.
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10 Responses to Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

  1. You gotta love a guy who is willing to stick with his values. Great site.

  2. rhijulbec says:

    I was just wondering if when you have a tongue twister like his, maybe you could break down the name grammaticaly or even phonetically? I tried this name and it was a wash out. lol Still lovin’ the names!

    • Dave says:

      I wish we could, but I’m as lost as you are with this one. Arto knows actors better than I do, and he also speaks five languages, so maybe he can help you out 🙂

      • Arto says:

        Well, I spent a few moments studying the intricacies of the Yoruba language, and then just gave up googled it and found a phonetic suggestion from, who say it is pronounced “ADD-ay WAHL-ay ACK-in NOY-ay AG-ba-jay”, which sounds about right. Yoruba syllables are always consonant-vowel, or just one vowel, which makes it easier to break the name down. I’ve been trying to figure this one out for years and I’m confident after repeating it out loud a few dozen times a day you too will get it 😉

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  4. The first name isn’t really so difficult.

    You could break down Adewale visually with a picture of lemonade with “-lemon” after it followed by a + sign in front of the picture of a whale.

    And of course there’s wide wale corduroy, which is the correct spelling of for his name “wale”. But a minus “-corduroy” might have little impact as people rarely wear wide wale corduroy any more.

    • Dave says:

      Haha, sometimes it seems like the clarification process makes things less clear, in a way 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  5. Mr. Eko was my favorite character from “Lost”. The monologue he gives to the ghost of his brother (someone he had long felt he had failed to protect and spiritually abandoned) was so moving. The release of his guilt felt so genuine. A truly great performance by Akinnuoye-Agbaje.

    • Dave says:

      I never watched “Lost” myself, but I liked that clip and I’m more inclined to watch the show than ever, now that it has good ol’ Adewale in it!

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