The ‘Black Panther’ actor who is an undocumented ‘Dreamer’
On the hit sitcom “The Good Place,” Bambadjan Bamba plays an eternal being in the afterlife. In reality, the Ivorian actor is living in limbo in the United States as an undocumented immigrant.
The 36-year-old Bamba, who most recently appeared in “Black Panther,” is one of 700,000 “Dreamers” — immigrants brought illegally to America as children who were protected by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“For a while, I wanted to share my story but I was paralyzed in fear,” he said in an interview with AFP as he picked up a human rights award in Los Angeles from the American Civil Liberties Union.
“I just didn’t want to ruffle any feathers. I didn’t want to put my career on the line, and even my family on the line.”
Bamba’s family fled political instability in the west African state of Ivory Coast in 1993 and he arrived in the US when he was 10.
Bamba then spent his teenage years between New York’s South Bronx and Richmond, Virginia.
The young French speaker learned English quickly and got into New York’s Conservatory for Dramatic Arts, driving taxis to pay the fees.
It was during the college applications process, when Bamba was thinking about financial aid, that his parents revealed they had no legal status in the United States.
They were eventually granted political asylum, but Bamba was 21 by then —too old to share the new rights they had won.