9-Year-Old Vancouver Actor, Filmaker Combines Cultural Heritage Into Work

Vancouver child actor and filmmaker Denzel Kai Ayodele Onaba

Photo: Instagram\Noodlehead Productions

Vancouver, BC March 7, 2022 – Vancouver child actor and filmmaker Denzel Kai Ayodele Onaba’s talent, confidence, wisdom and career vision stretch far beyond his nine years of age, and he is already making an indelible mark on the entertainment industry.

Just like Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington, for whom he was named, Denzel Onaba is not only a consummate professional, but is extremely good-natured. Denzel made his on-screen debut in the award-winning 2021 video short Just Break Away.

As an actor, writer, filmmaker, director and musician, Denzel seeks to integrate his Afro-Canadian heritage into his craft whenever possible. Playing the role of a Black child and honouring Black struggles, he has broken down stereotypes in several short films by showcasing Black children as capable, talented and resilient trendsetters.

Denzel recently appeared in the Hallmark TV movie A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love, an episode of the SYFY series Resident Alien, as well as six educational videos for the Canadian Mental Health Association, multiple short films, commercials (including the aforementioned Just Break Away, Clearly and Walmart), and several music videos.

Denzel has always been homeschooled and currently participates in an online youth entrepreneurship program hosted by the Black Business Association of BC. While helping to rewrite the African diasporic narrative in Canadian film and television, he has been working continuously despite pandemic industry challenges.

Denzel’s upcoming projects include several high-profile television and film roles that are still confidential and TBA; portraying the younger version of ‘Adewolf,’ a Nigerian Rapper, and ‘Young Simon’ in Kinky Boots, his first musical theatre production scheduled to be staged this summer.

Last year, Denzel co-directed an epic 4-minute film called SAWABONA and was featured on Global News as one of the youngest participants in Run-N-Gun, a 48-hour filmmaking competition. The film was given its African title, which means “I SEE YOU,” to reflect the integration of cultures. This powerful short has been screened at festivals including the 2021 Vancouver Black Film Festival and the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center (BHERC) Youth Diversity Film Festival. Following in the interest of movie making Denzel attended and excelled at the Gabriola Arts Society Film Maker’s Camp in 2021 and has been described as “unequivocally one of the best child actors I’ve ever worked with.” – Devon Mussett, Freelance Film Director.

OMI (the Yoruba word for water), a folktale about mami water horrors created for Hulu and 20thDigital, features Denzel in the leading role and has an all Black cast. Paganono is another short film in which Denzel has challenged the contemporary image of Black people, this time with his portrayal of a Black child who primarily uses American Sign Language, runs away from home after his mother’s death and ultimately overcomes impossible odds to become a famous classical violinist.

Denzel maintains regular private coaching with Natalie Moon Coaching and has studied acting at Biz Studio, Just Be Acting Studio, Screen Acting School, 54th Acting Studio, New Image College, Ignite Artists, and; voiceover at On The Mic; singing at Ricardo Music Studio and Rise and Shine Music Studio, as well as private ukulele classes with Mark Luongo.

The first male child born in over a century throughout his maternal bloodline, Denzel has a complex symphony of culture embedded into his DNA. His dad Mark is from Uganda and his mom Lara is from Nigeria, born to a Canadian mother and Yoruba father. In Yoruba, the name ‘Ayodele’means ‘joy has come home,’ and with his rich cultural heritage Denzel has shown that joy can come home to wherever in the world that might be.

Off-set Denzel enjoys spending days playing with his younger sister, reading novels, playing video games and football, BMX biking, doing gymnastics, watching documentaries, learning about animals, and enjoying everything related to Harry Potter. Last year, Denzel placed 2nd on the Championship List for Monologue Slam-National.

Denzel is represented by Esther Cohen at The Characters Talent Agency.

Denzel’s Official Sites



Demo Reel

Official Website

Pacific Immigrant Resources Society PA

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