Born in Lagos, Nigeria in 1987, Arinzé Kene is a West End actor and creator. Best known for his one-man play Misty, he took the lead role in the world premiere of Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Story at the Lyric Theatre in 2021.
Embarking on a career in the performing arts can prove risky, but not for Kene. He made his professional debut in Torn at the Arcola Theatre. His early career also includes Been So Long at the Young Vic, as well as appearances in The Lion King as Simba and in Daddy Cool.
While appearing in productions, Kene frequently turned his hand to writing new works. In 2011, two of his plays titled Suffocation and Little Baby Jesus respectively opened in London, with Kene winning the award for Most Promising Playwright at The Offies — theatre awards dedicated to off-West End productions.
Taking time away from the stage, Kene returned in 2016, playing Sam Cooke in Kemp Powers’ One Night In Miami at the Donmar Warehouse. Dom O’Hanlon wrote in London Theatre that the show was "sensitively directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah who keeps the postulating to a minimum, allowing his actors to find the nuance within the text."
Kene’s breakout show came in 2018, when Misty transferred from the Bush Theatre to Trafalgar Studios. The one-man show combined drama, music and spoken word to dramatise daily life in London. “Arinzé Kene is an unstoppable modern performer: his wit emanates though raps, which flow with ease and anger; his movement is impassioned, while his demeanour is personable and pretty hilarious,” wrote Will Longman for London Theatre. Others clearly agreed, since Misty was nominated for Best New Play at the 2019 Oliviers and Kene picked up a nomination for Best Actor.
Kene has also appeared in West End revivals including Girl from the North Country, which features the music of Bob Dylan, as well as Death of a Salesman at the Young Vic.
Kene was appointed as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2020 Birthday Honours, for his services to Drama and Screenwriting.
Arinzé Kene played Bob Marley in a brand new musical, Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Story, which made its world premiere in London.