Three actors with ties to Africa are among the nominees for the 2014 Academy Awards, or Oscars.
Chiwetel Ejoifor received a best-actor nomination for his role in 12 Years a Slave. Ejoifor is of Nigerian descent.
Lupita Nyong'o, an actress with Kenyan roots, is a contender for best supporting actress for her work in the same movie, which received a total of nine nominations.
And Somali-American Barkhad Abdi received a best supporting actor nomination for his role as a pirate in Captain Phillips.
Abdi told VOA Thursday how thrilled he is:
"You know, I am really, really excited and happy about it. I cannot exactly tell you how I feel. I am up from last night. I could not sleep. That's how excited I am. Now, I am so happy about it and everyone I know is calling me right now. It is just an amazing feeling."
Àbdi hopes his success will inspire others to pursue their dreams.
"For the Somali-Americans and for just all young men, you follow your heart and you follow your dream and it should work out somehow."
Captain Phillips and 12 Years a Slave are among the nine contenders for the best picture award.
The nominations were announced Thursday by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Oscar winners will be handed in Los Angeles ojn the night of March 2.