Ilfenesh Hadera was a brilliant choice to play Opal Gilstrap in Spike Lee’s reboot of She’s Gotta Have It.
As Nola Darling’s love interest, she is sensual and blatantly honest. The horticulturist with an outspoken daughter enjoys the company of Nola, but when it comes to committing, the two are incompatible. She’s quick to call out Nola when necessary and social media loves her. And much like Opal, Hadera is candid cosmopolitan.
Born and raised in New York City, Hadera has played many different types of women. Case in point: This year alone she’s played a life guard, makeup artist, mistress and FBI agent.
Beyond her roles, the talent is really interesting —learn more about her below.
In 2017 alone, she’s been in four major projects:
The actress has had a busy year having starred in Master of None, She’s Gotta Have It, Billions and Baywatch alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Her next role is in ABC’s Deception.
She’s a proud New Yorker:
Born and raised in Harlem, Hadera is incredibly proud of her uptown New York City roots. She was raised in an American-Ethiopian home with a younger brother. While she was auditioning for acting roles, she was a hostess for ten years.
Her name has a beautiful meaning:
Ilfenesh means “you are infinite” in her Ethiopian father’s language of Tigrinya, which she speaks. She also spent time in the country.
She attended formal acting school in London:
Hadera has been acting for years, first going to Stony Brook University for undergrad theater, and later graduate school in London for a joint program between the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and King’s College where she got her MFA.
She’s been married before —and has the tattoos to prove it:
In an interview with ESSENCE, the actress revealed that she met her ex-husband while abroad in the UK and got matching tattoos. She’s since moved on and is engaged to Alex Soroken, who asked to marry her on her 30th birthday last year.
The beauty is 5’11” but despite her Amazonian height, she’s never pursued modeling as a full time career. Acting has her heart. “There were some weeks where I wasn’t doing anything,” she told ESSENCE. “And then some weeks where it was everything. But back in the day when I was hostessing, I prayed for this. So it’s all good. Can’t complain.”
She has a huge heart:
As reported by E! News, Hadera helped promote and raise awareness around the African Services Committee that helps provide services to enhance immigrants’ prospects of thriving in this country through literacy programs, HIV testing and counseling, a food pantry, housing and more.