Nigerian movies are becoming increasingly popular, with an audience beyond the African continent, most notably in Latin American countries, such as Surinam.
In 2015, Nollywood started cooperation with Netflix, making their movies more easily accessible to international audiences.
Nollywood grew fast over the years and became crucial for the Nigerian economy. More than 1 million people are connected to Nollywood, making it one of the biggest employment industries in the country. With 1000 up to 1500 movies produced annually, it’s an essential source of income for Nigeria, amounting to about 590 million dollars annually.
But, here are the most notable performers from Nigeria who have long ruled or are currently on top of the game in Nollywood and have stayed relevant over the years.
1. Pete Edochie
Although a seasoned administrator and broadcaster, he came into prominence in the 1980s when he played the lead role of Okonkwo in a Nigerian Television Authority adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s all-time best selling novel, Things Fall Apart.
2. Osita Iheme
Osita Iheme is the founder of Inspired Movement Africa which he founded to inspire, motivate and stimulate the minds of young Nigerians and Africans. In 2007, Iheme received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the African Movie Academy Awards.
3. Genevieve Nnaji
After having spent decades in the movie industry, she was profiled alongside some celebrities and business executives in 2020 in two new books by publisher and Editor in Chief of Yes International!magazine, Azuh Arinze.
4. Mercy Johnson
Mercy is a Nigerian actress, film director and film producer. She went to a Rivers State Secondary School for her secondary education in addition to the Nigerian Navy Secondary School in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Right after her secondary education, she auditioned for a role in the movie titled “The Maid” and subsequently acted in other movies such as Hustlers, Baby Oku in America, War in the Palace.
Mercy Johnson was once banned from acting for being too expensive on 3 November 2013, the movie marketers of Nollywoodthreatened to prohibit her from the industry due to her high demands.
She and co-Nollywood stars such as Genevieve Nnaji, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, Richard Mofe Damijo, Emeka Ike, Ramsey Nouah, Nkem Owoh, Stella Damasus and Jim Iyke were prohibited from acting, for reportedly demanding outrageous pay raise per movie.
5. Nkem Owoh
Nkem is a Nigerian actor and comedian. In 2008, he won the African Movie Academy Award for “Best Actor in a Leading Role” for his role in the Nigerian film, “Stronger than Pain”.
He is also known for performing the song “I Go Chop Your Dollar” about advance fee fraud. The song was featured in the film The Master in which Owoh plays a scammer. In 2007 Owoh was arrested in Amsterdam, Netherlands(Bijlmermeer neighborhood in the Amsterdam Zuidoost borough) as the result of a seven-month investigation by the Dutch police dubbed “Operation Apollo”. Owoh was arrested while performing a musical show when the police raided the event and arrested 111 people on suspicion of lottery fraud and immigration violations. Owoh was later released.
Nkem Owoh was born in Enugu State, Nigeria. After his primary and secondary school, he headed to the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta and studied engineering. Already, during his university studies, Owoh began acting in various television and film productions.
6. Patience Ozokwo
Ozokwor is a Nigerian veteran musician, fashion designer, gospel singer, and actress.
She is known for taking the role of a wicked woman in some of her movies.
Patience Ozokwor was among the top 100 Nigerians Honored by the government to celebrate the amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates in 2014. She was an announcer and broadcaster on Radio Nigeria before she became an actress. She rose to fame from her role in the 1999 movie titled Authority and her first TV drama won a soap opera titled Someone Cares on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).
Since her rise to fame, she proceeded to act in over 100 movies.
7. Olu Jacobs
Oludotun Baiyewu Jacobs, also known as Olu Jacobs, is a Nigerian actor and film executive who was born on July 11, 1942
He has acted in a number of foreign and British television series.
Many have praised Olu Jacobs as one of the best and most well-known African actors of his generation. He has starred in several British television series and international films.
Olu Jacobs has been hailed by many as one of the greatest and most widely respected African actors of his generation. Together with Pete Edochie, he is considered by several media, film commentators, critics, and other actors to be one of the most influential African actors of all time, and is widely regarded as a cultural icon. He is seen as the bridge between the old Actors and the new ones.
Jacobs has made his mark in Nigeria’s movie industry, Nollywood. With more than 40 years of acting experience, he is seen as a bridge between the old and new breed of actors. Trained at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, England, he worked with various repertoire theatres in Britain and starred in some international movies.
8. Chinedu Ikedieze
Ikedieze is a Nigerian actor, entrepreneur and serial investor. He is best known for playing alongside Osita Iheme in majority of the movies after their breakthrough as duo in the 2002 film Aki na Ukwa.
He has featured in over 150 films in a career spanning over 20 years. He has acted in the role of a kid in most of his films during his early career due to his stature and physical appearance.
He is known as Aki for his performance in the film Aki na Ukwa. In 2011, he married fashion designer Nneoma Nwaijah and the couple had their first child in 2012.
He entered the Nollywood industry in 2000 and rose to recognition in a Nigerian Movie he acted in 2000, Aki na Ukwa, where he played the breakthrough role of Aki alongside another little person actor Osita Iheme.
9. Richard Mofe-Damijo
Richard Eyimofe Evans Mofe-Damijo, popularly known as RMD, is a Nigerian actor, writer, producer, lawyer, and former journalist. He was also a former Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in Delta State in 2009.
In 2005, he won the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
He received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 12th Africa Movie Academy Awards in 2016.
After graduating from the university, Mofe-Damijo took part in the soap opera Ripples, but gained more popularity as villain Segun Kadiri in rival soap Checkmate. Before then, he had a stint as a writer with Concord Newspapers Metro Magazine, and Quality. Out of Bounds was the first film for which he received a writer/producer credit.
10. Zubby Michael
His first appearance was in the movie titled Missing Rib but known for The Three Widows where he played the lead role.
He began acting in Yola at a young age. His first movie appearance was in a movie titled Missing Rib but became popular for his lead role in The Three Windows. Zubby has appeared in several other films.