Every thespian in the movie industry was once struggling as an up-and-coming actor, taking up ‘any available’ or ‘waka-pass role’(extras) before they got their breakthrough and became big deals and adorable screen icons. Today being a Thursday, let’s throw it back to humble beginnings of a few of our now popular celebrity actors with movies that brought them to limelight.
1. Sola Sobowale
Sola Sobowale was born 26 December 1963. She is a veteran Nigerian film actress, director, producer and screenwriter who has been in the movie industry since the 90s but only had her big break in 2001, in the premiere of Nigeria’s popular television drama series Super Story: Oh Father, Oh Daughter.
Prior to her big break, Sobowale had acted in Asewo To Re Mecca (1992), Diamond Ring (1998) amongst others. Till date, there has been no going back as she has starred in top movies, with the latest being King of Boys: The Return of the King (2021).
2. Toyin Abraham Ajeyemi
Born Toyin Aimakhu in 1975, the stunning actress took off her acting career in 2003 when veteran Nigerian actress, Bukky Wright, went to Ibadan for a film shoot. Bukky Wright was pleased with Toyin’s highly exceptional performance and asked her to be part of the movie production.
Toyin Abraham continued attending many other auditions, which allowed her to play minor roles as an assistant actress but didn’t get a real shot at spotlight until ten years later in the film Alakada (2013).
3. Omotola Jalade Ekeinde
Wondering why Omotola made the list? It’s simple – OmoSexy is back! Just keep reading. Omotola who has been acting since the 90s, has managed to stay a famed figure in the movie industry until now. Unlike many others who took years to gain prominence in the movie industry, hers didn’t take years. Her first acting role was in the 1995 movie Venom of Justice but OmoSexy didn’t get her big break until her role in Mortal Inheritance (1995). Since then, she has starred in several blockbuster movies.
Since around 2017, Omotola seemed to have stepped back from making movies but has still maintained her reputation amongst the best actors of Nollywood; until a couple of days ago it was revealed she would be playing a lead role in Ifan Micheal’s Singing Sin; a feature film set in the 1980s.
4. Adedimeji Lateef
The youngest actor on this list, Adetola Abdullateef Adedimeji is a Nigerian actor and filmmaker who was born February 1,1986. He has been in the industry since 2007 and has often been mistaken as fellow actor, Odunlade Adekola’s younger brother due to a striking resemblance.
Lateef gained popularity with his first major role in Yewande Adekoya‘s 2013 movie titled Kudi Klepto and he has been in many movies, back-to-back; with the most significant being Ayinla where he played the lead role. Ayinla is an eponymous film based on the life of Ayinla Yusuf popularly known as Ayinla Omowura.
5. Osita Iheme & Chinedu Ikedieze
Chinedu Ikedieze aka Aki was born 12 December, 1977 while fellow actor, Osita Iheme, was born 20th February, 1982.
Aki and Pawpaw have acted in the role of kids in most of their films during their early career due to their stature and physical appearance.
6. Funke Akindele-Bello
Akindele-Bello Olufunke Ayotunde popularly known, as Funke Akindele or Jenifa is a Nigerian film actress and producer. The 45 year old actress has been in the industry since 1998 where she starred in the popular sitcom I Need to Know from 1998 to 2002.
Funke Akindele’s big break however came in 2008 when she appeared in the movie, Jenifa and that was only the tip of the iceberg for her as she has become one of the most recognized actresses in Nigeria.
7. Ramsey Nouah
He is not just an icon in the Nigerian film industry but one of the most handsome actors. 51 year old Ramsey has been in the industry since the 90s but didn’t gain as much prominence until he starred in the top chart movie Fugitive in year 2000.
He has since appeared in numerous films and has been called “Lover-Boy” for his numerous roles in romantic films.
8. Odunlade Adekola
He is known to be the most popular Nollywood actor in the Yoruba genre. He was born December 31, 1976. Odunlade aka Saamu Alajo, Sunday Dagboru, Alani Pomolekun, Oyenusi; amongst others began his career in 1996 and rose to prominence in 2003, after playing a lead role in Asiri Gomina Wa.
Since then, Odun has starred in numerous Yoruba movies and his dynamism has remained the talk of the town.
9. Olu Jacobs
This list will be incomplete without Oludotun Baiyewu Jacobs, since it’s a throwback Thursday list, Olu Jacobs is one of the oldest Nollywood actor alive. His legendary figure in Nollywood has seen this professional star in various British and international series. With more than 40 years acting experience, this 79 year old veteran is seen as a bridge between the old and new breed of actors. Olu Jacobs got his first acting role in the movie, The Vigilante, while in London. Subsequently, he started appearing in various British television. After over twenty years of acting in the UK, Olu Jacobs returned to Nigeria to put the knowledge he had acquired to work.
Jacobs’ role as Commissioner Batak in the 1979 action-adventure film Ashanti paved the way for greater success. Rumor had it that Olu Jacob died in 2021, but he attended Afriff in November 2021, where he won the Lifetime Achievement Award. His wife and fellow veteran actor, Joke Silva later revealed that he is battling with an health condition called Dementia with lewy bodies.
10. Femi Adebayo
Like Odunlade Adekola, Femi is another very popular Nollywood actor of Yoruba decent. His acting career became prominent in the entertainment industry when he featured in Owo blow (1995). Femi is the son of Adebayo Salami, a veteran Nollywood actor known as Oga Bello on set.
Femi began acting in 1985, the same year he featured in his father’s first movie titled Ogun Ajaye.