Akosua Busia

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Akosua Busia
Akosua Gyamama Busia

(1966-12-30) 30 December 1966 (age 52)
OccupationActress, film director, songwriter, author
Years active1979–present
Known forNettie Harris – The Color Purple
John Singleton
(m. 1996; div. 1997)
Parent(s)Kofi Abrefa Busia
Naa Morkor Busia
RelativesAbena Busia (sister)

Akosua Gyamama Busia (born 30 December 1966)[1][2] is a Ghanaian actress, film director, author and songwriter who lives in the EU. Busia is best known for her role as Nettie Harris in the 1985 film The Color Purple alongside Whoopi Goldberg.

Family and early life[edit]

Akosua Busia is the daughter of Kofi Abrefa Busia, who was prime minister of the Republic of Ghana (from 1969 to 1972)[3] and a prince of the royal family of Wenchi,[4] a subgroup of the Ashanti. Akosua is a princess of the royal family of Wenchi. Her sister, Abena Busia, is a poet and academic, who was a professor in English at Rutgers University,[5] and since 2017 has been the Ghanaian ambassador to Brazil.

Akosua Busia grew up in Ghana, and began her acting career at the age of 16, attending London's Central School of Speech and Drama on scholarship.[6] Her first acting role was as Juliet in an otherwise white cast performing Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet at Oxford University, where her siblings were studying.[6]


Busia's film roles include a notable performance as Bessie in a 1986 film adaptation of Richard Wright's novel Native Son (with Geraldine Page and Matt Dillon), as Nettie (opposite Danny Glover and Whoopi Goldberg) in Steven Spielberg's 1985 The Color Purple,[7] adapted from Alice Walker's novel of the same title, as Ruth in Badge of the Assassin (1985), as Jewel in John Singleton's Rosewood (1997),[8] and as Patience in Antoine Fuqua's Tears of the Sun (2003).[9] She has also appeared on television in the series ER.[4]

Busia is the author of The Seasons of Beento Blackbird: A Novel (Washington Square Press, 1997, ISBN 9780671014094).[10][11] She was one of three co-writers for the screenplay adaptation of Toni Morrison's 1987 novel Beloved for the 1998 film version of the same name directed by Jonathan Demme.[12] In 2008 Busia directed a film about her father: The Prof. A Man Remembered. Life, Vision & Legacy of K.A. Busia.[13] Busia also co-wrote the song "Moon Blue" with Stevie Wonder for his album A Time 2 Love, released in 2005.[14]

After an 18-year hiatus to raise her daughter, in 2016 Busia returned to acting in the off-Broadway and Broadway production of Danai Gurira's play Eclipsed, alongside Lupita Nyong'o.[15] For her performance off-Broadway, she received an Obie Award for Distinguished Performance as Rita.

Personal life[edit]

On 12 October 1996, Akosua Busia married the American film director John Singleton, with whom she has a daughter — Hadar Busia-Singleton (born 3 April 1997); the couple divorced on 15 June 1997. Their daughter attended school in Ghana, before returning to the US.[4][12]

She co-founded with her sister Abena Busia the Busia Foundation International, aiming "to provide assistance to the disadvantaged".[16]


Year Title Role Notes
1979 Ashanti The Senoufo Girl
1983 The Final Terror Vanessa
1984 Louisiana Ivy TV movie
1985 Badge of the Assassin Ruth TV movie
1985 The Color Purple Nettie Harris
1986 Crossroads Woman at Boardinghouse
1986 Low Blow Karma
1986 Native Son Bessie
1988 Saxo Puppet
1988 The Seventh Sign Penny Washburn
1991 New Jack City Courtroom Spectator Uncredited
1997 Rosewood Jewel
1997 Mad City Diane
1997 Ill Gotten Gains Fey
2003 Tears of the Sun Patience
2007 Ascension Day Cherry (final film role)


  1. ^ Who's Who Among African Americans, 22, Gale Research, 2008, p. 179, ISBN 978-1-4144-3400-1
  2. ^ McCann, Bob (2010), Encyclopedia of African American Actresses In Film And Television, McFarland, p. 62, ISBN 978-0-7864-3790-0
  3. ^ Takyi, Charles (22 December 2009). "Busia's family endorses new secretary for NPP". The Ghanaian Chronicle.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ a b c Kiesewetter, John (7 April 1999). "'ER' actress dreams about having it all". The Cincinnati Enquirer.
  5. ^ "Busia, Abena - Professor", Department of Women's and Gender Studies Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
  6. ^ a b Smith, Gail (4 December 1998), "Just don't say 'no'", Mail & Guardian (South Africa).
  7. ^ Rosenberg, Donald (19 June 1990). "Akosua Busia's Dual Performance In 'Color Purple' Still Astonishing". Rocky Mountain News.
  8. ^ Levin, Jordan (30 June 1996). "On Location: Dredging in the Deep South". Los Angeles Times.
  9. ^ Fuchs, Cynthia (8 March 2003), "Tears of the Sun: Review", PopMatters
  10. ^ Rush, George (17 April 1997). "D'Angelo joins Al's bev-y of beauties". New York Daily News.
  11. ^ "Writer", Akosua Busia website.
  12. ^ a b Fierman, Daniel (16 October 1998). "Brawl Over 'Beloved'". Entertainment Weekly.
  13. ^ "The Prof: A Man Remembered". Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "The wonder of it all". The Detroit News. 8 October 2005.
  15. ^ Mark Kennedy, "Akosua Busia re-emerges in the spotlight in ‘Eclipsed’", Washington Times, 23 March 2016.
  16. ^ Foundations, Akosua Busia website.

External links[edit]