A gaze at Nollywood Actress, Funke Akindele’s journey to stardom

Akindele Olufunke Ayotunde popularly known as Jenifa is a talented Prolific Nigerian actress and producer who has come a long way in the Entertainment Industry.

Funke came to limelight after featuring in popular United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) sponsored sitcom; I Need to Know, which ran from 1998 to 2002.

She played Bisi, a curious but highly intelligent secondary school student and in 2009 she won the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

Funke Akindele

Journey To Stardom

Funke Akindele’s first experience for the camera was on Opa Williams set, ‘Naked Wire’.

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She heard about the audition back then and she  just told her boss, ‘oga I want to go for this audition’. He was like, ‘go, go, go’.  Luckily, she was given a role.

According to Funke, the role was meant for a teenager, she was past teenage years but she went and luckily for her she secured the role.

Left: Actress Iyabo Ojo, Middle: Funke Akindele

At the early stage of her career she tried series that were airing on TV as at that time. She was on ‘Every Day People’ and ‘Izozo’

When Funke didn’t get the big break she was expecting from Series, she moved to Nollywood.

Her first Yoruba movie feature was Kolade Alabi’s ‘Iroka’.

The producer told her about the movie at an event. She was part of the movie in Osogbo. She played a very minor role. It was in Ayo Adesanya’s ‘Heart Breaker’, after then she crossed over to the faculty where you have Yinka Quadri, Ogogo, Abe Lanre, Yemi Alabi. They welcomed her, featured her in their movies, and she started he first major role.

Her first lead role was in ‘Ojo Ketala’. Coincidentally, that was her first experience as a producer.

Ojo Ketala movie cover

So almost immediately she became a producer.  Narrating where she got the experience from, Funke Akindele said:

I believe I could do it and I started it. I watched how they did it. I’ve been on different production sets and watched how they do it. They call people from different departments, different professionals. Finally I wrote my script, I invited the director of photography and the director. How are we going to do this, call this make-up artist, call this wardrobe person. And I gathered them together and we did the movie.

Funke Akindele’s mother invested in her first movie. According to the actress, she believed in her but her dad wanted her to be a lawyer. So her father would just tell her then, ‘go back, go to school, go and study law’.

Fast forward to today, Funke has featured, written and produced many Nollywood movies especially Yoruba movies and has many hit movies to her name. Some of her hit movies are Maami, Iru Oka (Cobra’s tail), Omo Ghetto, Ojo Ketala (13thDay) and A Trip to Jamaica.

Funke Akindele got her major breakthrough when she played the main character in a comedy-drama movie, Jenifa where she acted as a ‘local girl’ from the village who went to Lagos for a ‘better’ life.

Jenifa’s Diary cover

The movie was not just entertaining and hilarious but a massive success which she did well to harness the potential. Jenifa inspired her ongoing TV series Jenifa’s Diary. Jenifa’s Diary has become a household name in most Nigerian homes and features talented artists such as Lota Chukwu, Folarin Falana (Falz Da bad guy) and Lolo, an OAP and TV personality.

Funke Akindele speaking on how she cope with so much work said:

It’s by the grace of God. I sleep like seven hours in the night and crash like one hour in the car.

I have to because of the stress of my job. We’re always on set acting. The light is really hot. And it won’t be good if you don’t eat and sleep. So I try my best to eat and sleep well. I need that energy to keep pushing on.

Now that we already have a gaze on Funke Akindele’s rise to stardom, lets als have a look at the Actress’ Biography and profile.

Funke Akindele Biography and Profile.

Funke was born on August 24, 1977, in Ikorodu, Lagos State, Nigeria. She is the second of three children (two girls and one boy).

Funke is the second of three children (two girls and one boy). Her mother is a medical doctor while her father is a retired school principal.

She obtained an Ordinary National Diploma (OND) in Mass Communication from the former Ogun State Polytechnic, now Moshood Abiola Polytechnic and got a Law degree from the University of Lagos, Akoka, Yaba.

Funke in London

She plays the lead character in the show Jenifa’s Diary, for which she was named Best Actress in a Comedy at the 2016 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards. She has over 100 movies to her credit as actress, writer, and producer.

EDUCATION

Funke began her education at Grace Children Schools at Gbagada, Lagos. She later proceeded to Lagos State Model College, Igbokuta for her secondary school education.

For her Tertiary education, she studied Mass Communication at the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (then referred to as Ogun State Polytechnic) where she obtained Ordinary National Diploma (OND).

Funke and Husband JJC

She also bagged a Law degree from University of Lagos (UniLag). She obtained an Ordinary National Diploma (OND) in Mass Communication from the former Ogun State Polytechnic, now Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, and got a Law degree from the University of Lagos, Akoka, Yaba.

CAREER

Funke entered the limelight after starring in popular United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)-sponsored sitcom I Need to Know, which ran from 1998 to 2002.

She played Bisi, a curious but highly intelligent secondary school student. Funke Akindele’s big break came in 2009 when she appeared in the movie Jenifa.

Funke at the AMVCAs

In July 2016, in an interview she stated she was acting less in the Yoruba film industry at that time because of piracy. Akindele plays the lead character in the ongoing hit TV show Jenifa’s Diary, alongside Fisayo Ajisola, Falz, Juliana Olayode, and Aderounmu Adejumoke. The show is a spin-off from the movie Jenifa.

The 2018 comedy film Moms at War stars Akindele and Michelle Dede. She is the CEO of Scene One Film Production.

In January 2018, there was a controversy when it was reported that Akindele would get her Hollywood debut in Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War as she was listed as a member of the cast on imdb. Mainstream Nigerian press reported that she was set to star in Infinity War as the guard Dora Milaje, citing IMDB.

Some weeks later her name was replaced with that of fellow Nigerian actress Genevieve Nnaji, with Akindele’s upload shown to have been a hack. In February 2018, it was reported that Senate President and Chairman of the National Assembly, Dr Bukola Saraki has advised Marvel Studios to feature Akindele in Infinity War.

AWARDS

In 2009, Funke produced a record breaking movie titled “Jenifa” and released “Return of Jenifa” followed by “Jenifa’s Diary,” all of which has brought her more fame and prospects. She has also featured divers movies and produced several others such as Ohun buruku, Eda, Edunjobi, Etanu, Ole Ole, Akeju, Emi ni toto,
Agbefo, Okun ife, Risikat, Aje meta.

Year Event Prize Work Result
2009 Africa Movie Academy Award Best Actress Leading Role Won
2009 Nigeria Entertainment Awards Best Actress Jenifa Won
2010 2010 Best of Nollywood Awards Best Actress in a Leading Role (Yoruba) Oguni Aiku Nominated
2012 2012 Nigeria Entertainment Awards Best Actress Troj Won
2012 Nollywood Movies Awards Best Actress (Indigenous) Emi Abata Won
2012 Best of Nollywood Awards Best Actress (English) Married but Living Single Nominated
Zulu African Film Academy Awards Best Actress Maami and The Return of Jenifa Won
2013 2013 Nollywood Movies Awards Best Actress (Leading Role) Maami Nominated
Best Actress (Indigenous) Won
2014 2014 Nigeria Entertainment Awards Best Actress (Leading Role) Agnetta O’Mpa Won
2014 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards Best Actress (Comedy) The Return of Sheri Koko Won
ELOY Awards Brand Ambassador of the Year Omo Won
2016 2016 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards Best Actress In Comedy Role Jenifa’s Diary Won
Nigeria Entertainment Awards Best Actress Series Nominated
Naija FM Awards Sitcom Of The Year Won
Best Actress in Comedy Won
Africa Entertainment Legend Awards Best Actress of the Year Won
2016 Ghana Movies Awards Best Actress Africa Collaboration A Trip to Jamaica Won
2017 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards Best TV Series Jenifa’s Diary Won
Best Actress in a Comedy Movie or TV Series Won
A Trip to Jamaica Nominated
2017 Nigeria Entertainment Awards Best Lead Actress Won

 

Funke Akindele Movies

  • Final Whistle
  • Final Whistle 2
  • Atlanta
  • Atlanta 2
  • Agbara Ife
  • 13th Day: Ojo Ketala
  • 13th Day: Ojo Ketala 2
  • Osuwon Eda
  • Odun Baku
  • Kosefowora
  • Agbefo
  • Agbefo 2
  • Okun Ife Yi
  • Oba Irawo
  • Maku
  • Egun
  • Edunjobi
  • Edunjobi 2
  • Baye Se Nlo
  • Akandu
  • Taiwo Taiwo
  • Taiwo Taiwo 2
  • Omo Pupa
  • Kakai Leku
  • Jenifa Jenifa
  • Atanpako Meta
  • Apoti Orogun
  • Aje Meta
  • Aje Meta 2
  • Iro Funfun
  • Ija Ola
  • Ija Ola 2
  • Farayola
  • Anointed Liars
  • Anointed Liars 2
  • Ladies Gang
  • Ladies Gang 2
  • Maami Maami
  • New Horizons
  • Blood is Money
  • A Trip to Jamaica
  • Isoken

MARRIAGE

Funke had a colourful wedding in 2012. But her marriage did not flourish as her fans anticipated. Her ex-husband (Kehinde Oloyede Adeola) was rumoured to have had strings of relationships and children out-of-wedlock. There are claims that her marriage did not work due to her husband’s extra-marital affairs.

Funke’s First marriage

Nobody was sure what happened but they got a divorce in 2013, a year after their wedding, citing irreconcilable differences. She gave love a second chance when she tied the knot with Nigerian rapper Abdul Rasheed Bello widely known as JJC Skillz. The secret wedding took place in London in May 2016.

News went viral that she was going to deliver twins in London. She debunked the news and later on, reports surfaced that the babies (twins) which she reportedly conceived through IVF died at birth.

Funke had 3 step-children from her husband till recently when she had her own twin babies.

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