Africa: Veterans in Nollywood

Veterans in Nollywood

With Nollywood now having been around for more than 20 years, there are figures who have been around and are still very active in the game. For these figures, they are not just around and keeping it real, they are still actively influential in many projects coming out of the Nigerian movie scene. Adedayo Odulaja and Ogechi NdubuNma write.

Kanayo.O. Kanayo has been in the industry from the beginning of Nollywood. His debut film was Living in Bondage and he featured in it in 1992. A United Nations ambassador who has won numerous awards including the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Kanayo is still very much around. From the days of acting in Laraba to recently appearing in Kunle Afolayan’s October 1, he is a veteran who remains very active.

Nkem Owoh
It would be hard to talk about Nollywood without mentioning one of its funnymen. Nkem Owoh has been in the industry from the late 80s. In 2003, his stock rose even higher when he starred in the movie, Osuofia in London. Not only is he an actor but a singer with the song, “I Go Chop Your Dollar” later banned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to show for it. He is a lead character in the 2016 Yvonne Okoro movie, Ghana Must Go.

Genevieve Nnaji
By virtue of having started as a child actor, this screen diva can claim a spot on this list. Currently one of the highest paid actresses presently, Oprah Winfrey once referred to as Africa’s Julia Roberts. Boasting her own clothing line called St. Genevieve, this beauty was the leading cast in Mirror Boy and produced her first movie, Road to Yesterday last year to critical acclaim.

Tony Umez
This actor graduated from the University of Lagos and made his debut in the makebelieve world in 1994. Having acted in over 200 movies and even criss-crossing the borders of English and Yoruba sections of Nollywood, Umez stands tall as a veteran still keeping it real. As recently as two years ago, he was named as one of the actors of a controversy movie titled Room 027. Beyond the criticisms of being a kind of soft porn, Umez still played his part well.

Chiwetalu Agu
Chiwetalu Agu is known for his numerous phrases which he says he evokes plainly for the purpose of entertainment. He is best known for indigenous movies but has been in the industry for more than 20 years. Being really good at what he does and having proved it over the years, he is listed as one of the most outstanding comedians in Nollywood and is widely admired both within and outside Nigeria.

Kenneth Okonkwo
Another actor who was there from what is termed the very beginning of Nollywood through Living in Bondage, Kenneth Okonkwo is a certified Theologian. He has a degree in Business Administration as well as International Law and Diplomacy. Like Genevieve, he also featured in the soap opera, Ripples back then but remains active through the years. He was the male lead in the popular movie, Dumebi the Dirty Girl which dazzled the industry just a few years ago .

Pete Edochie
This Nollywood actor seems to have handed the acting legacy to his immediate family as both his son and wife are also in the industry. He recently did a cameo for the video of “Gollibe” by highlife music star, Flavour. Since making his name as Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart, the screen adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s iconic novel of the same name, there won’t be a list like this if Pete Edochie was not on it.

Nobert Young
The actor who stole hearts in the epic movie, Igodo almost two decades ago, Nobert Young is one of the figures who have remained an item with fans through the years. Also a feature on Tv for years along with Ronnie Dikko, he is an actor that is still very active.

Charles Okafor
Along with Nobert Young, Charles Okafor was a regular feature in the epic movies that defined Nollywood back in those days. Today, he is still very much around and part of the industry he helped nurture.

Patience Ozokwor
Popularly called Mama G, Patience Ozokwor has won several awards for her top of the bill portrayal as the wicked motherin- law in many movies. Also one of those in Nollywood known to have flirted with music at one point or the other, Patience Ozokwor is still very much around and involved in Nollywood.

Ngozi Ezeonu
This light-skinned actress has featured in over 150 movies with numerous awards to her credit. A hairdresser by training at the beginning, she caused a frenzy with her drastic weight loss not too long ago with many people concluding that she was sick at the time before she cleared the air. Saying Ngozi is very gifted when it comes to roles in which she has to cry is stating the obvious.

Hafiz Oyetoro
One of those trained in the craft and who has taught scores of others, that Hafiz Oyetoro is better known as Saka in itself says a lot. Unknown to many, he has been a teacher through it all and is currently running his PhD program aside the funny roles he plays in both English and Yoruba movies. A Master’s degree holder in Theater Arts, Hafiz is a definition of sticking to what you do and becoming a star in it and not even recently turning 50 is about to stop that.

Clarion Chukwura
She is an actress and and Humanitarian who was the first Nigerian to win the coveted Best Actress award at the FESPACO Film Festival in 1982. Once romantically linked to Shina Peters, with popular video director, Clarence Peters, as the product of that alliance, people label Clarion as ageless. Still very much in demand after years of being active, her starring role in the movie, Apaye fetched her the coveted Best Actress in a Leading Role award at AMAA in 2014.

Richard Mofe Damijo
The actor and politician has been in the industry since the late 80s, steadily rising to become the force he is today. He won the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role at the 2005 Africa Movie Academy Awards and was active while he served as Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in Delta State. RMD, as he is popularly known, just turned 55 and many will be blown away with his performance in forthcoming movie, Oloibiri.

Bimbo Akintola
She scored her debut in 1995 in the movie, Owo Blow and years down the line, remains one of Nollywood’s finest. Constantly questioned by a lot of people on her still single status, Bimbo has garnered awards throughout her career and recently featured in the Ebola movie, 93 Days.

Olu Jacobs
This highly talented actor was trained in England and in Nigeria. He has won several awards and is married to the beautiful and equally influential actress, Joke Silvia. Jacobs has starred in over 120 movies and has watched the industry blossom with his involvement. Perhaps only Pete Edochie can rival him when it comes to who has acted the role of Igwe in most Nollywood movies. At 71, Olu Jacobs is still present, and acting.

Jide Kosoko
This actor has featured in numerous movies including recent ones like Gidi Up, Doctor Bello, The Meeting, Last Flight to Abuja and others and has a basketful of awards for his efforts. Apart from recognition from far and wide, he has also left a legacy in his family with his recently deceased wife, Henrietta Kosoko and his two daughters, Sola and Bidemi Kosoko fully involved with Nollywood.

Sadiq Abubakar Daba
He came into the limelight in the late 70s when he starred in the starring screen effort, Cockcrow at Dawn but went off the radar after years of grooming others at the Nigerian Television Authority. However, many were grateful to Kunle Afolayan when he brought him back as Inspector Dan Waziri in the acclaimed October 1. For his efforts in that film, Daba won Best Actor award in 2015 and the retire broadcaster spends his time on movie locations and preaching against drinking and smoking.

Segun Arinze
Having featured in movies and commercials, some of which he provided audio vibes for, Segun Arinze is still one of the most popular names in Nollywood. With his role in Ilorin Women listed as one of his earliest movies, the man popularly known as Black Arrow, has acted in movies like Anini, Darkest Night, Church Business, Across the Niger, Silent Night, Family on Fire, A Place in the Stars, GSM Connection and many others.

Liz Benson
An actress who has overtime shown Nigerians what it means to have true class and be greaceful yet humble about it, Liz benson has started in countless movies. Her breakthrough came with the soap opera, Fortunes in 1993. She recently featured in the Stephanie Okereke-produced movie, DRY.

Adebayo Salami
He is a filmmaker, producer and director who has been involved in acting for as long as we can remember. He has acted in numerous Yoruba movies and got the name, Oga Bello from a popular comedy series known as Half Hour. He was a member of the Ojo Ladipo Theatre Group and took on the group’s leadership after the death of the founder. He featured in the first Yoruba film ever and acted alongside the great Ade Love, the father of Gabriel and Kunle Afolayan. Oga Bello remains active and he is a role model and mentor to many apart from his two children, Femi Adebayo and Tope Adebayo who have taken well after him.

Akin Lewis
The actor, writer and dramatist, started his career in 1951. He played the lead role in Madam Dearest which brought him into the limelight and has won several awards including the award for Best Actor in the Television and Audio Visuals Awards (TAVA). He has been acting for almost 30 years and has featured in the popular series, Tinsel as well as the movie, Heroes and Zeroes. One of those trained by late iconic playwright, Ola Rotimi, Akin Lewis has done a lot in the industry and has not stopped being the best at what he does.

Hilda Dokubo
She had her debut film in the movie, Evil Passion in 1992. The beautiful actress was once the Special Adviser on Youth Affairs to Peter Odili, former Rivers State governor. She has been in movies like Jezebel, My God Will, Error of the Past, Black Maria, End of the Wicked, Light and Darkness. She was recently cast in Onye-Eze and The CEO, respectively produced by Obi Emelonye and Kunle Afolayan. Hilda is also an advocate for the youth and is a great example for upcoming actresses.


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