Coming to America: Where Are They Now?
Eddie Murphy (Prince Akeem)
Murphy has held the title of one of the kings of comedy in Hollywood, thanks in part to his role in Coming to America. When he appeared in the film, he was fresh off of Beverly Hills Cop II, and went on to launch several other multi-film franchises like The Nutty Professor and Dr. Dolittle. In 2015, he was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, and Murphy received his only Oscar nomination (thus far!) for his work in Dreamgirls. He is currently setting his sights on several sequels in addition to Coming to America 2, including Triplets and Beverly Hills Cop 4.
Arsenio Hall (Semmi)
As Prince Akeem’s well-meaning personal assistant Semmi, comedian Arsenio Hall made such an impression on audiences that he ended up with his own nighttime variety show the next year, which lasted six seasons and won two Primetime Emmys. In the years since, Hall has flirted with the spotlight as an actor, but has also seen success portraying various incarnations of himself — most recently in the Netflix movie Sandy Wexler, about a Hollywood agent in the '90s and all his clients.
James Earl Jones (King Jaffe Joffer)
The inimitable James Earl Jones was already a screen legend when he appeared in C2A, lending his veritably royal presence as King Joffer. Nominated for his role in The Great White Hope back in 1971, the actor was honored with a lifetime achievement Oscar in 2012. Jones recently had the distinct pleasure of returning to one of his most iconic voice roles — that of Darth Vader — in Rogue One. Next up: voicing another royal role, as Mufasa once again in the live-action rehash of The Lion King.
Madge Sinclair (Queen Aoleon)
Who better to match the kingly James Earl Jones than Jamaican actress Madge Sinclair, who played the regal and elegant Queen Aoleon in C2A? In a fun and trivia-worthy turn of events, Sinclair also voiced Queen Sarabi in the original Lion King opposite James Earl Jones’s Mufasa. Sinclair's acting career was cut short, as she died at the age of 57 in 1995 after battling leukemia.
Shari Headley (Lisa McDowell)
Shari Headley had briefly appeared in two TV series (The Cosby Show and Miami Vice) before landing the lead role of Lisa McDowell opposite Eddie Murphy in Coming to America. Since, Headley has worked regularly in daytime television, including featured roles in Guiding Light, The Bold and the Beautiful, and All My Children, and most recently popped up in OWN’s The Haves and Have Nots.
Samuel L. Jackson (Hold-Up Man)
Where hasn’t he been? The actor has appeared in more projects than pretty much anyone else (his IMDb page lists an astonishing 172 credits). Jackson’s turn as the criminal who holds up the restaurant in Coming to America was one of his first standout roles, and he hasn’t looked back since. Among the plethora of upcoming projects for the actor is another turn as Nick Fury, in Marvel’s Captain Marvel.
Eriq La Salle (Darryl Jenks)
Like many of his costars, La Salle stood out in Coming to America, playing the stuck-up pretty boy who acts more prince-like than Eddie Murphy’s actual prince. La Salle has continued to work regularly, mainly on the small screen as Peter Benton for eight years on ER, and also appearing in popular series such as Under the Dome. Most recently, look for his small part in the critically acclaimed Logan.
Louie Anderson (Maurice)
Louie Anderson’s career was just taking off when he appeared in C2A as a blasé fast-food employee, and some may have written him off after both his mid-'90s series, Life with Louie and The Louie Show, were canceled. But Anderson had the last laugh in 2017, when he won his first Emmy for his role on Baskets.
Cuba Gooding Jr. (Boy Getting Haircut)
Cuba Gooding Jr.’s role in C2A, credited as “Boy Getting Haircut,” was one of the Oscar winner’s first roles: He provided the pivotal foil against which comedians Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall — both in wacky disguises — soared. Cuba, of course, went on to wow audiences and critics alike in Jerry Maguire, and has since appeared in several high-profile films (as well as Norbit, also with Eddie Murphy), and most recently impressed as O.J. Simpson in American Crime Story: The People Vs. O.J. Simpson.
Vanessa Bell Calloway (Imani Izzi)
As Imani Izzi, Vanessa Bell Calloway will forever be immortalized as the princess who once barked like a dog. The actress, who made her screen debut at only 8 years old on Days of Our Lives, has a wealth of credits (more than 100) that almost rival Samuel L. Jackson’s. Some standout appearances include: A Different World, Cheaper by the Dozen, Dexter, Grey’s Anatomy, Shameless, and the 2016 film Southside With You, in which she played Michelle Obama's mother Marian Robinson.
Allison Dean (Patrice)
Allison Dean made her feature film debut in Coming to America, as the sweet Patrice who ends up canoodling with Arsenio Hall’s character. After a few other appearances, most notably in Speed 2: Cruise Control and Tears of the Sun, Dean largely stopped acting, aside from appearing in a few episodes of Girlfriends, and in this YouTube clip discussing the pros and cons of dating a prince.
John Amos (Cleo McDowell)
As the protective father to Lisa in C2A, veteran actor John Amos had already enjoyed an illustrious career as a television actor, appearing throughout the '70s in shows like Maude, Roots, Good Times, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Amos has continued acting regularly, most notably appearing in The West Wing and Madea’s Witness Protection.
Paul Bates (Oha)
Paul Bates provided some of the best laughs in Coming to America as Oha, Prince Akeem’s stiff-upper-lipped manservant and bodyguard. Bates’s résumé of credits since is an eclectic roundup of notable turns, from appearances in films like True Romance and Showgirls to TV gigs on Ellen and NYPD Blue. Most recently, Bates worked on several series, including The Grinder, Lethal Weapon, and Son of Zorn.