Here are the men and women who have poured their heart and soul into the Nigerian entertainment industry with decades of game-changing impact behind them and a legendary status before them. Their contributions will forever resonate in the heart of all Nigerians.
She was part of the first generation of theatre arts practitioners who wowed drama lovers with dexterity on stage. Toun Oni had featured in countless movies and soap operas, among them one of Nigeria’s longest running soap opera, Checkmate, and the popular Fuji House of Commotion, Family Circle, Mirror in the Sun, Irapada and many others. A staunch Jehovah Witness, she hated injustice and she was liberal to a fault.
With her experience, she was expected to be one of high profile actresses in Nollywood (English language genre), rather, she found fame with her A-list performances in Yoruba movies.
Though she dropped out of school, her versatility on stage earned her the national honour of the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON).
A day before her death, she had complained of having pains all over her body. The versatile actress and role model to many gave up the ghost while on her way to the hospital. Toun passed on at the age of 72, on Wednesday, July 7, 2010.
RICHARD MOFE DAMIJO
Born July 6, 1961 in Warri, Delta State, He attended Midwest College Warri and Anglican Grammar School and was a member of the Drama Club. He enrolled into the University of Benin to continue his education and studied Theatre Arts. In 2005 he won the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. He has featured in several movies and series and is loved by his fans. He is popular for movies like Diamond Ring, Tinsel, When God Says Yes and several others.
Popularly called RMD, He is endowed with terrific looks and an enviable talent which makes lots of women, young, old and even actresses swoon over him but this does not bother the revered veteran as He doesn’t see himself as a ladies man. According to him, he loves the simple things of life and he’s not the average party going person.
ZAINAB BUKKY AJAYI
Bukky Ajayi who blessed the world with her unique acting talent was born on February 2, 1934. Born a Christian, She later converted to Islam in the early eighties and chose the name Zainab.
She studied at the Stanislavsky Institute of Drama in London and she was abroad for six years, as a federal government scholar.
After her education in 1965, Ajayi worked as an announcer, presenter and a newscaster in Nigerian Television Authority (NTA). She presented a couple of children’s programs and Nigerian Sketches, a programme which was all about Nigerian culture, produced by Diran Ajijedidun of blessed memory. She was later transferred to Port Harcourt and later back to Lagos.
It was at that time she started her acting career. For the late veteran actress, her love for the theatre was influenced by her father who took her to the cinemas as a young girl. Her interest for acting was so strong that she used to do a cardboard sort of cinema for children, and charge half a penny to come and watch.
Her first role was in the movie “Village Headmaster” in the 70’s, and she later got a role in Amaka Igwe’s “Checkmate”. She has since featured in so many home videos that we have lost count. She was an enviable professional, who inspired many, including her colleagues and protégées with her outstanding roles in many home movies. On Saturday, March 5, 2016 at the fourth edition of the Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards, the veteran received an Industry Merit Award. She was taken to the venue in a wheelchair giving an emotional speech that got many crying. No one knew it will be her last public outing.
She passed on at the age of 82, Reports say that she had been battling with a heart related condition before she passed on at her Surulere residence. With her attractively energetic and lively personality, Bukky Ajayi will forever be missed in Nollywood.
Pete Edochie was born 7th March 1947. The Enugu state born actor is considered one of Africa’s most talented actors by both Movie Awards and Africa Magic. He came into prominence in the 1980s when he played the lead role of Okonkwo in an NTA adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s bestselling novel, Things Fall Apart.
He has been in the picture from the inception of Nollywood. Edochie has featured in over 100 movies and he is renowned for playing Royalty roles and the wicked father. He is also popular for saying African Proverbs in movies.
Olu Jacobs was born on the 11th of July, 1942 in Abeokuta, Ogun State Nigeria. He was born to parents from Egba Alake, and attended Holy Trinity School in Kano. He is popular for playing the role of a king and has won several awards for his outstanding performances. Olu Jacobs lived most of his youthful life in the United Kingdom before moving to Nigeria. He was trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London and in the 1970s, he starred in several British television drama series which include; Till Death do Us part, The Goodies, The Professionals, Barlow at Large, and The venturers. He has worked with International actors like Jean Claude Van Damme.
When Olu Jacobs came back to Nigeria in the early 1980s, there were no home movies and artist fees were very low, he took up the challenge and formed a company where stage plays were the major entertainment drive. Olu Jacob’s first major role was the production of a television series titled “Vigilante” that starred RMD and Mama D.
Jacobs charisma and manner of delivery in Nollywood movies cannot be rivaled by any other actor, his baritone voice also adds some uniqueness to his mastery of the profession. Olu Jacobs in his 37 years in Nollywood can best be described as a bridge between the young and the old.
There you have it.
Think we missed someone or included someone that should not have made the cut? Chat us up in the comments section. Long live Nollywood!