Jani Toivola – Vaasa, Finland

Jani Toivola is a man of several firsts.  An article in Public Radio International states that “….he was in his mid-30’s, the entrepreneur, actor and dancer was a celebrity in this country of 5.5 million where he was the first black actor.

Jani Toivola

Jani Toivola

He’s been the host of ‘Idols’, Finland’s version of ‘American Idol’, a contestant on Finland’s version of ‘Dancing With the Stars’, and he’s been a spokesman for the Finnish Tourist Board, explaining what’s cool about Finland.”

The son of a Finnish mother and Kenyan father, he studied in HB Acting Studio, New York in 1999–2002. He has performed in several dance works, television series and plays. Toivola is also openly gay.

In 2011 he was voted a Member of Parliament making him the first black, gay member.

He is also in a new movie called ‘Heart of a Lion’ which is a film about a a young boy growing up in Finland, but having a multicultural background. His life is complicated by having a black father (Toivola) and a mother who is a Neo-Nazi. (full synopsis here)

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