Screen favourites Desmond Elliot, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Patience Ozokwor and Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde have been named alongside renowned movie director Tunde Kelani in a list of 32 of the most influential figures in the Nigerian movie industry released by top entertainment news website TheNETng ahead of the fourth edition of the Nigerian Entertainment Conference (NECLive) holding on Wednesday 20 April, 2016.
Published for the fourth year running by the TheNETng, the list is based on factors such as longevity, media following, output, awards and popularity within the industry.
Cinematographer, CEO Mainframe Films
Globally recognised as a leader of Nollywood, cinematographer Tunde Kelani has seen stars come and go. He’s also made many stars and big hits.
But what ensures longevity for him and his Mainframe studios, is a rather rare connection with underdogs; a passion for inserting anonymous characters into leading roles and changing their careers forever.
Plus, he brings fading cultural stories into the contemporary space, making films out of independence era literature, and preferring to trade in his native Yoruba.
Kunle Afolayan, himself a bonafide leader of the new school will tell anyone who cares to listen, that Kelani is his mentor and master. He’s not alone.
This Akwa Ibom-born movie producer is one of the most respected people in Nollywood. Beginning her career in 1994, she has excelled in writing and producing. With provoking and well thought-out plots, she has earned her place in Nollywood as one of the best screen writers.
Isong holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre Arts from the University of Calabar and a diploma in computer science from the Computer Science Institute (NCR).
She runs a film school, Royal Arts Academy, with which she has discovered young actors who are now giving the established ones a run for their money.
Richard Mofe Damijo
Currently on vacation from politics, Richard Mofe-Damijo is working the phones, hoping to get busy with Nollywood again. But he hasn’t had to call much. His number has not stopped ringing since he announced his return. Since he discovered how to use Instagram. Since he decided to keep his beard. The grandfather has been a sex symbol for almost three decades; a charmer for even much longer. He’s the actor other actors want to be like; the brand corporate Nigeria want but can’t have.
It’ll take a while for anyone to come close.
Now on his fourth film, Afolayan, the son of a film icon, is perhaps the most remarkable name in Nigeria’s contemporary film industry. While still struggling with funds, he’s succeeded where many have failed. And, as his local and international awards will show, he’s plotting a new path for an industry stuck in an era that has passed. Like Kelani, he’s choosy about his stories, finicky about his actors, and ambitious with his projects. If ‘New Nollywood’ was a thing, he’ll be the one running the show.
Genevieve does not do as much public charity work as Omotola, her long time archrival. She doesn’t do as many movies as Mercy Johnson, Stephanie Okereke or Funke Akindele. But she is regarded globally as Nollywood’s leading female super star, with a brand apparently bigger than most of her colleagues put together. Careful about her image, and almost snobbish about associations, she’s one of the few Nollywood actresses you may never encounter face-to-face.
She spent 2015 repositioning as an executive, with the success of her debut film, Road to Yesterday. It remains whether she will cross into waiting markets in Europe and America. But it shouldn’t matter, if she continues to have nearly 20 million young Nigerians in her palms.
Actress, AGN president
The Rivers State-born actress is the first female to lead the Actors’ Guild of Nigeria (AGN). Ibinabo wields uncommon influence and power among Nollywood practitioners. Having done very well being at the helm of Actors Guild of Nigeria for four years, Ibinabo was re-elected AGN president last year.
Talented, charming and graceful are perhaps the words that best describe Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, popularly known as ‘Omo Sexy’. The Lagos-born star, who hails from Ondo State, made her debut in Nollywood in 1995. Since then, she has acted in about 200 movies and has endeared herself to producers and marketers. Her star power has seen her snag numerous endorsement deals and even a listing by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, along with the likes of Michelle Obama, Beyonce and Kate Middleton.
Actor, producer and director
It is difficult to mention any actor that is as popular as Odunlade Adekola in Nollywood let alone a more prominent name in the Yoruba section of the movie industry in Nigeria. So adored by lovers of Yoruba movies in Nigeria and beyond is the tall actor and producer that the risk of exaggeration is remote if one begins to pour the water of superlatives on him. To put it as it is, Odunlade Adekola is the biggest Yoruba actor at the moment and indeed the most prominent brand that section of Nollywood has had for a while. The Glo ambassador is easily in the frontline when any compilation of the list of those dictating the pace of the Yoruba movie industry is compiled.
Actor and TAMPPAN president
It’s not for nothing that he’s appointed the president of the new guild of the new Yoruba actors guild, Theatre and Motion Picture Practitioners of Nigeria (TAMPPAN). The Ogun-state born actor has paid his dues. He came into acting 30 years ago, under the supervision of the late Mukaila Adebisi, the manager of Oloko theatre group where he was trained. His artistic career was influenced by the late Theatre Arts professional, Dele Ogunsanya with whom he worked after his training. He made his debut in between 1985 and 1986 coming into limelight in many movies, particularly Ti Oluwa Ni Le produced in 1995.
Femi Adebayo, son of legendary actor, Adebayo Salami popularly known as Oga Bello has gone from living under the shadow of his father to carving a niche for himself in the movie industry, especially in the Yoruba sect. The Jelili actor began acting in 1995, the same year he featured in a Tade Ogidan’s movie titled Owo Blow.
Femi, who won two awards- 2015 ZAFAA and Afro-Heritage Broadcasting & Entertainment Awards (AHBEA), two months ago, produced and featured in several hit movies this year.
The lawyer-turned actor cum producer owns a movie academy name J-15 School of Dramatic Arts based in Ibadan.
Toyin is one of the highest paid Yoruba actresses on the continent. An interpreter of roles whose talent is never in doubt, Toyin has garnered many fans over the years with her acting skill and good look. She began acting in 2003, when Bukky Wright, a Nigerian film actress, visited Ibadan to shoot a movie. She’s known for blockbuster movies like Alakada, Eta Oko, Iku Doro among others. She’s now built a solid image and following that put her firmly in a position to lead the thousands of actors unsure of how to play in a terribly fragmented ssytem.
CEO Corporate Pictures
He’s one of the people who call the shots in the Yoruba movie industry. He owns a successful movie marketing outfit, Corporate Pictures and his company has backed several blockbusters. Nearly all films from his stable have won or been nominated for major film industry awards. A veteran by every definition, he’s not just a money man. Those who know him confirm he’s an ideas man, a deals broker, and passionate investor.
Actor, producer and director
A talented actor cum producer, Muyiwa Ademola is a favourite star and TV face of millions of Nigerians. Any movie he features in is always a delight to watch due to his touch of professionalism and diction. He is mostly known for Ile (2009), Igi Owo (2007) and Orí (2004).
Actor, producer, director
Elliot, who is now a member of Lagos State House of Assembly, is one of the prominent actors in Nollywood. Also a producer and director, the Lagos state born actor has produced several blockbusters under his production company Denziot Productions. He is involved in public relations projects for the Nigerian telecoms giant, Globacom, and is said to be one of Nigeria richest Nollywood actors, making his money from acting, directing, endorsements and advertising.
Filmmaker, Actor, Writer
He has been a strong pillar in the Nollywood industry. Charles, who is popularly known as Mr. November, has been a major force in both the movie and music industry in Nigeria over the past 15 years, churning out lots of hit movies such as The Bridesmaid, Real Love, Missing Angel, More Than Sisters, You Broke My Heart, A Christmas Passion and recently Alan Poza.
Besides making good movies, Charles Novia has also helped in discovering lots of A-list stars in the movie and music industry. They include Desmond Elliot, Grace Amah, Empress Njamah, Caroline Ekanem Danjuma, among others.
He also helped in re-engineering the careers of many artistes like Stella Damasus, Kate Henshaw-Nuttal and a host of others, who he reintroduced to stardom through his movies and November Records music label, which was home to Majek Fashek, whose last album Little Patience, was executively produced by Charles Novia and sold over a million copies.
He hasn’t done much work in recent times, but he continues to be a powerful voice, using his blog to shape thoughts and perspectives.
Patience Ozokwor has perfected the art of playing the role of a villain especially the wicked mother-in-law, so much so that many people (wrongly) assume that that the characterisation mirrors her real life persona. The movie star, who is from Enugu State, is also a singer, brand ambassador and businesswoman with investments in real estate.
A former Regulatory Affairs Manager at Multichoice Nigeria and Director General of the Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), Mba is currently the honcho of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission. Soft spoken Mba’s popularity amongst broadcasting stakeholders has remained on the rise with his digitisation project and the restructuring to ensure strict adherence to NBC’s rules and regulations. Under his administration, the NBC celebrated its 20th anniversary with a showcase of landslide achievements.
This Edo state-born producer and director may well be reckoned as the first Nollywood director to shoot a film in Hollywood, with a $200, 000 non-union budget film titled, ‘Friendly Enemy’. He has also done quite a number of movies outside the country: Zero your mind – which was shot in Berlin, Saving the Crown, Home and Abroad, Seed of seduction, Windstorm and Adakhanva, which he did in his native language.
Lancelot is referred to as a star director in Nollywood because of his ability of getting the best out of any actor he works with on set and he has received numerous awards for his excellence in his profession.
Film producer, writer
With an authoritative voice and calm demeanor, this movie producer has grown into one of the most respected figures in modern Nollywood. Chris has directed about 100 hours of television drama, including Fuji House of Commotion, Tempest and Now we are Married.
He recently produced the 4th series of the ground-breaking HIV and behavioural change focused drama series, MTVShuga.
Protégé of revered Nigerian filmmaker Amaka Igwe for 8 years, Chris was responsible for managing the production services at Amaka Igwe Studios (AIS) including training of creative professionals at the Centre for Excellence in Film & Media Studies, the training arm of AIS.
He is the founder of True Nollywood Stories, and Pin Point Media.
Journalist, Founder BON awards
A popular entertainment Journalist, Seun Oloketuyi is the founder of Best of Nollywood Awards (stylized as BON Awards), an annual awards ceremony that has been honouring outstanding achievements in the Nigerian Movie Industry.
Seun Oloketuyi is also the publisher of Best of Nollywood Magazine, a journal that focuses on happenings in Nollywood
A Unilag graduate, she has featured in over 300 Nigerian movies. She is most popular for movies like Phone Swap, The Secret Laughter of Women and Last Wedding and also as one of the Faculty members on the MTN Project Fame.
Joke Silva is married to another equally influential actor Olu Jacobs. She teaches and speaks regularly, owing to her passion for capacity building.
Peace Ayim Osigwe
The brain behind arguably Africa’s most recognized and respected awards for movie practitioners on the continent, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe stands tall among visionaries who have given their all to the growth and development of the movie industry in Nigeria. Having run one of the biggest awards in the movie industry for ten years now, Peace has rewarded, promoted and built the industry in a remarkable way.
She went off the scene when she newly got married, but she is now back to reclaim her spot as one of the leading actresses in Nigeria. Dakore has appeared in many classic movies, including recently released ‘Fifty,’ Caught In the Middle, Lunch Time Heroes, Peace of Flesh among others. Some say she (and her husband Lou, son of billionaire Harry Akande) may be silent investors and backers in an industry that rarely attracts private sector funding.
Jason Chukwuma Njoku is a British-born Nigerian entrepreneur, film magnate and African start-up investor. He is the founder and CEO of iROKOtv, one of the early video-on-demand movie platforms for Nigerian movies
A self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur, iROKOtv is Njoku’s 11th attempt at starting a business. He came up with the idea of launching a new distribution platform for Nollywood whilst living at home with his mum, aged 30, after a number of failed enterprises.
Actor, director, Producer.
Saidi is a renowned actor, director and producer, who has done remarkably well for himself in the movie industry. He is presently the co-founder and the president of The Movie Ambassador, a stakeholder group in Nigerian movie industry.
A prolific filmmaker with a career spanning over 20 years, Saidi’s recent credits include Eti Keta and You or I.
A former president of Association of Nigeria Theatre Arts Practitioners, Oga Bello, who celebrated 50 years on stage last year, is one actor many young acts are looking up to. His influences have no doubt rubbed off on his children, with three (Femi, Sodiq and Tope) of them already well established in the trade.
Lagos State born actor, Jide Kosoko is an accomplished actor who has been able to cut across the various movie groups and associations. A versatile actor with a career spanning over four decades, Kosoko’s influence became unquestionable after he emerged the president of the Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners and led the association for eight years.
The bearded six foot tall prolific movie director hails from Ilah in Delta state, Nigeria. A 1982 graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria, Andy as Amenechi is simply called is reputed to be one of the hottest and busiest movie directors on the Nigerian home video scene. He trained in advertising, marketing and advanced television and film production both in Nigeria and abroad.
A long standing member of the Association of Movie Producers (AMP) and the Director Guild of Nigeria (DGN) Amenechi, is the directing force behind some of the sectors enduring offerings like Rituals, Narrow Escape, Oracle, Blood of the Orphan, Time Bomb, Lord of the Mountain, Deep Love, Egg of Life, and the epic movie Igodo which he co directed with Don Pedro Obaseki.
CEO G Media, movie producer
Gabriel Onyiyechi Okoye, popularly known as Igwe Gabosky, is one of the most respected in the Nigerian home video industry.
Over the years, Okoye has worked himself into becoming one of the top stakeholders in the Nigerian movie industry, having produced many blockbuster movies and helping champion the cause for a better movie industry.
He is a recipient of various awards both in the country and outside. Notedly, many actors and actresses in Nigeria today owe a debt of gratitude to him for bringing them into limelight.
He now runs G-media, using new thinking to power distribution, with support from Bank of Industry.
Akeem Olatunji Balogun
CEO Olasco Films
Known for bankrolling many blockbuster movies which include Funke Akindele’s flicks, Jenifa, Return of Jenifa and Omo Ghetto 1 & 2, this popular movie marketer, wields appreciable influence in the movie industry which is why many refer to him as the godfathers of the movie marketing business.
Ugbe is leader at DSTV
Administrator and MD of Multichoice
Ugbe has been managing director at Multichoice for over four years, overseeing a deep involvement between the South African giant and Nigeria’s Nollywood. The result is more Nollywood centred programming, a successful annual awards, and a commendable investment in production.
He holds a masters degree from the University of Liverpool.
Kene Mkparu is giving Nigeria more cinema screens by the day
Owner of Filmhouse Cinemas
Mr. Mkparu wants to give Nigeria 50 cinema outlets by the end of this year. What’s not to love about that?
He’s secured the funding, he’s put systems in place, and he;s now rolling out strategically.
With over 20 years experience in business management and cinema operations management in different parts of the world, pundits say he’s the man for the job.