Meet The Nigerian Writer Who Featured In JAY-Z’s Viral 4:44 Video

July 24, 2017

Akwaeke Emezi is an Igbo and Tamil writer and video artist based in liminal spaces. Her debut autobiographical novel, FRESHWATER, is forthcoming from Grove Atlantic in February 2018 and her short story ‘Who Is Like God’ won the 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Africa.


She recently made a cameo in the music video for Jay-Z’s title track ‘4:44’, directed by Arthur Jafa.

Facts about Akwaeke Emezi

1. Born in Umuahia and raised in Aba, Nigeria, Awake holds two degrees, including an MPA from New York University.


2. In 2017, she was awarded a Global Arts Fund grant for the video art in her project The Unblinding, and a Sozopol Fellowship for Creative Nonfiction.

living that delicious life in dar es salaam ☀️#travelbunny #tanzania

A post shared by akwaeke emezi (@azemezi) on

3. She received a 2015 Morland Writing Scholarship to write her second novel, and is a 2016 Kimbilio Fellow. Akwaeke’s writing has been published by Granta Online and Commonwealth Writers, among others, and her cultural commentary has appeared on

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4. Her memoir work was selected and edited by Chimamanda Adichie (‘Sometimes The Fire Is Not Fire’) and included in The Fader’s ‘Best Culture Writing of 2015’ (‘Who Will Claim You?’)

5. Her experimental short UDUDEAGU won the Audience Award for Best Short Experimental at the 2014 BlackStar Film Festival and has screened in over thirteen countries.

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