The Nigeria movie industry widely known as Nollywood has been a source of pride to the nation’s entertainment sector due to it’s embodiment of positivity and growth.
It has been a source of decent livelihood to a lot of creative minds and also an outlet for social cultural integration.
In this view, here are the 10 most popular actresses in Nigeria (2020):
- Akindele Olufunke Ayotunde
Simply known as Funke Akindele, the Nigerian actress and producer starred in the sitcom ‘I Need to Know’ from 1998 to 2002, and in 2009 she won the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Actress in a lead role.
She played the lead character in the sitcom Jenifa’s Diary, for which she was named Best Actress in a Comedy at the 2016 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards and recently won Best supporting Act in a movie or TV series at the 2020 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards.
In April 2020, Akindele was arrested after holding a birthday party for her husband during the lockdown imposed to tackle corona virus.
She later appeared in the NCDC video to raise awareness about the pandemic, she has worked with brands like Dettol Nigeria and the Lagos state government on tax polices.
- Genevieve Nnaji
The Nigerian actress, producer, and director has been active since 1987 at the age of 8 as a child actor in the then popular television soap opera Ripples.
She won the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role in 2005, making her the first actor to win the award.
In 2009 she was named the Julie Roberts of Africa by America talk show host Oprah Winfrey Also in 2011., Genevieve was honoured as a Member of the Order of the Federal Republic by the Nigerian government for her contribution to Nollywood. In November 2015 she produced her first movie titled: ‘Road to yesterday.’
Her directorial debut movie, Lionheart, is the first Netflix Original from Nigeria, and first Nigerian submission for the Oscars. The movie was disqualified for having most of the dialogue in English. Genevieve Nnaji is a very strong women rights activist. She advocates for Nigerian girls to be able to have a say in who they choose to marry. She is strongly against abuse of women in society and a firm advocate for social justice.
As a strong feminist, she states her type of feminism is the woman who has the right to make her own choices and do whatever she feels like.
3.. Rita Dominic
She is a Nigerian actress, who in 2012 won the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. She is the youngest of four children. Her late parents were health care professionals.
Dominic attended the prestigious Federal Government College Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, before heading to the University of Port Harcourt, where she graduated with a BA (Honours) Degree in Theatre Arts in 1999.
She started performing as a child, appearing in school plays and children’s television shows in Imo State. In 1998 she starred in her first movie, A Time to Kill.
She won the City People Awards in 2004 as the Most Outstanding Actress. She has starred in over 100 Nollywood productions and also advocated towards good cause.
4.. Omotola Jalade Ekeinde
Omotola is a Nigerian actress, singer, philanthropist and former model. Since her Nollywood film debut in 1995; the leading actress has appeared in over 300 films, selling millions of video copies.
After receiving numerous high-profile awards, launching a music career, and amassing an enviable fan base. She is the first African celebrity to receive over 1 million likes on her Facebook page.
Beyond her show business accomplishments, she is also applauded for her remarkable humanitarian efforts. Omotola is one of the pioneers of the video film era of Nigerian cinema, becoming one of the most watched actresses in Africa.
In the year 2013, she was honoured in Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world alongside Michelle Obama, Beyoncé and Kate Middleton. In the year (2013), Omotola made a brief appearance in VH1’s scripted series, Hit the Floor.On 2 November 2013, she spoke at the 2013 edition of the WISE- Summit, held in Doha, Qatar.
In the year 2014, she was honoured by the Nigerian government as a Member of the Order of the Federal Republic, MFR for her contributions to Nigerian cinema.
- Mercy Johnson-Okojie
Mercy Johnson hails from Okene in Kogi State but born in Lagos to a former naval officer. Right after her secondary education, she auditioned for a role in ‘The Maid’ and subsequently acted in other movies such as Hustlers, Baby Oku in America, and War in the Palace.
In 2009, she won an award for Best Supporting Actress at the 2009 African Movie Award ceremony and Best Actress award at the 2013 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards for her role in the comedy movie Dumebi the Dirty Girl. In December 2011, she was listed as Google’s most searched Nigerian celebrity, a position she also held in 2012.
She is the senior special assistant (SSA) to the Kogi state governor Yahaya Bello on entertainment, arts and culture, which took effect from 1 April 2017.
Mercy Johnson Okojie, is an inspirational actress, and has acted in more than 100 movies since joining the industry and is still at work with both producing/directing and starring in phenomenal films.
She made her debut as film producer with the movie “The Legend of Inikpi”.
6.. Tonto Charity Dikeh
Tonto is a Nigerian actress, singer, songwriter and humanitarian. She featured in the controversial movie titled ‘Dirty Secret’ which generated controversy among Nigerians due to its inclusion of adult scenes.
While some people criticized her role for bring nontraditional and un-African, others stated that Dikeh was merely being professional.
Following a successful acting career, Dikeh decided to pursue a music career. But prior to that, she was featured in a music video for Amaco Investments, alongside Patience Ozokwor.
She made her music debut by releasing the singles “Hi” and “Itz Ova” on 13 June 2014. Nigerian singer D’banj signed her to his record label, DB Records.
The actress does not shy away from controversies surrounding her marriage as she has taken a break from music and a little bit of acting and has since focused more on humanitarian activities.
- Toyin Abraham
Born Olutoyin Aimakhu in Auchi, a town in Edo State in southern Nigeria. She is a filmmaker, actress, director and producer who spent her early days in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State in southwestern Nigeria.
She began acting in 2003, when Bukky Wright, a Nigerian film actress, visited Ibadan to shoot a movie and discovered her as a budding talent.
Over the years, Toyin Abraham has produced, directed and featured in several Nigerian films, such as Alani Baba Labake and Ebimi ni. She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Yoruba film titled Ebimi ni during the 2013 Best of Nollywood Awards.
Based on her acting career, Toyin has also been called upon by politicians to campaign for them. At one of the programs for Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election bid in 2015, the actress said she was prepared to die for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on whose platform Jonathan was contesting. But she later came out to apologize to her fans for the comments and urged Nigerians not to spill their blood for any politician.
She won the award for the Best Actress in a movie at the 2019 African Magic Viewers Choice Award for the movie Elevator Baby. She is married to her industry colleague Kolawole Ajeyemi together they are blessed with a son named Ireoluwa.
8.. Regina Daniels
She is a young and pretty Nigerian actress and film producer who started acting at the age of seven through the guidance of her mother (Rita Daniels) an actress as well. She got support from her siblings while growing up.
Her first movie was ‘Marriage of Sorrow’ which earned her N10,000. She has featured in over a hundred Nollywood movies. In January 2019, Daniels was appointed Atiku Abubakar’s Youth Campaign Coordinator. And in February 2020, she launched a magazine named after her.
Regina Daniel has been able to gather for herself a huge social media following due to her role delivery and marriage to Billionaire politician cum businessman, Ned Nwoko.
- Adesua Etomi-Wellington
Simply known as Adesua Etomi, she starred in her first feature film ‘Knocking On Heaven’s Door’ in 2014, and by 2016; won the award for Best Actress in a Drama at the 2016 African Magic Viewers Choice Awards for her role in the 2015 romantic drama ‘Falling.’
Etomi lobtained a diploma in “Physical theatre, Musical theatre and Performing arts” from City College Coventry in 2004. After completing these courses in 2006 with triple distinctions, she studied drama and performance at the University of Wolverhampton, graduating with first-class honours. She was also featured on Vogue’s list of 14 global superstars.
Etomi got engaged to Banky W in February 2017. The couple held their traditional marriage on 19 November, court wedding on 20 November and white wedding on 25 November 2017; the latter ceremony was held in Cape Town, South Africa.
- Omoni Oboli
Omoni is an actress, scriptwriter, film director, producer and digital filmmaker. She studied at the New York Film Academy and has written several screenplays, including The Figurine (2009), Anchor Baby (2010), Fatal Imagination, Being Mrs Elliott, The First Lady and Wives on Strike (2016). In 2018 she starred and directed the comedy film, Moms at War.
Omoni began her movie career with her first movie role in Bitter Encounter (1996), where she played a secretary. Her next was ‘Shame’. She then went on to play the lead female character in three major movies; Not My Will, Destined To Die and Another Campus Tale.
After enjoying a brief career in 1996, Omoni left the movie industry to complete her university education. She married immediately after school and did not return to the industry until a decade later.
Omoni has several screenplays to her credit, including her film ‘Wives On Strike’ as well as ‘The Rivals,’ a movie she co-produced with her friend and won the prize for Best International Drama at the New York International Independent Film & Video Festival. It was the first Nigerian film to be premiered since the festival’s inception in 2003. The movie was given a 3-star rating out of 4 by the festival’s judges.
She is also the first actress from Nollywood to win Best Actress in two international festivals,(that are not organized by Nigerians or Africans), in the same year (2010). This she did at the Harlem International Film Festival and the Los Angeles Movie Awards for her lead role in the movie Anchor Baby. In 2010, she won the award for Best Actress Narrative Feature at the Los Angeles Movie Awards, and the award for Best Actress at the Harlem International Film Festival. Omoni was nominated for the Best Actress in a leading role award at the 2011 Africa Movie Academy Awards.
In 2014, she won Big Screen Actress of the Year award, at the 2014 ELOY Awards, for her movie Being Mrs Elliott. In 2015, Omoni was awarded the Sun Nollywood “Personality of the Year”, She has directed several movies such as Being Mrs Elliott, The First Lady, Wives on Strike, and Okafor’s Law.
She also has an NGO which is the Omoni Oboli Foundation geared towards women and less privileged children in the society.