Abena Ayivor was born on February 25, 1975, in Kitwe, Zambia, to a Zambian mother and a Ghanaian father[1]. At the age of five, her family moved to Lesotho before settling in Butterworth, in the former Transkei, where she completed her formal education[8]. Abena grew up in a large family with seven siblings[1].

Initially, Abena studied for a BA degree in law at the University of Cape Town. However, she decided to change her path and completed a two-year diploma in Drama and Presentation at City Varsity[3]. She moved to Johannesburg in 1999[3].

Abena Ayivor is best known for playing the regular character Lerato in the South African soap opera Generations from 1999 to 2003[5]. Over the years, she has appeared in numerous films and television shows, including Machine Gun Preacher (2011), The Good Lie (2014), and The Dinosaur Project (2012)[6]. In 2016, she played Ella Khama in the drama film A United Kingdom[2].

Apart from her acting career, Abena is also a writer[7].