@ 56! Checkout 56 greatest Nigerian entertainers of all time | PHOTOS
- Nigerian entertainment industry boasts a host of talented actors, musicians, creative filmmakers, talent managers, media experts etc, who make the industry tick.
On the anniversary of Nigeria’s independence, we want to celebrate those who have and are still working hard to place Nigeria’s entertainment industry on the global map.
Nigerian entertainment industry boasts a host of talented actors, musicians, creative film-makers, talent managers, media experts and many more who make the industry tick.
In no particular order, we’ve compiled a list of these men and women whose numbers you want to have on speed dial.
1. Audu Maikori
Record label executive
Audu Maikori is a Nigerian lawyer, entrepreneur and social activist. Audu is best known as the Founder of the Chocolate City Group. He’s also well known in Nigeria as a former Nigerian Idol judge and has been compared to Simon Cowell due to his tough stance on contestants during auditions.
Maikori’s Chocolate City is a arguably one of the biggest record labels in Africa helping to guide and manage the careers of several artists including Femi Kuti, M.I, Ice Prince Zamani, , Jesse Jagz, Victoria Kimani, Nosa etc.
2. Mo Abudu
Talkshow host, media entrepreneur
Mosunmola Abudu, better known as Mo Abudu, is a talk show host, TV producer, media personality, human resources management consultant, entrepreneur and philanthropist. She has been described by Forbes as Africa’s Most Successful Woman.
Abudu is the executive producer & host of a TV talk show, Moments With Mo, which is the first syndicated daily talk show on African regional television. She dabbled into film production this year, debuting with a star-studded movie titled Fifty.
3. M.I Abaga
Rapper, label executive
Jude Abaga better known by stage name ‘M.I’ or ‘M.I Abaga’, is a Nigerian hip hop recording artist and the current CEO of the Chocolate City Music. He has won several awards including the MTV Africa Music Awards 2009. He was nominated in the Best International Act category at the BET Awards 2010.
He rose to prominence in 2006 when his song ‘Crowd Mentality’ became popular in his home town of Jos.
4. Matthew Ohio
Matthew Ohio is a showbiz enthusiast; show promoter and businessman who started Industry Nite in 2009 as an independent platform for artists to showcase their stuff. Matthew’s creation has become one of the most popular and respected networking platforms for entertainers and has hosted over 50 Nigerian artistes since inception.
5. 2face Idibia
Recording artiste, record label executive, club owner
Innocent Ujah Idibia, better known by his stage name 2face Idibia, is a Nigerian singer-songwriter, record producer and entrepreneur. He is one of the most decorated and successful pop artists in Africa. The ‘African Queen’ singer, who celebrated his 41st birthday in September 2015, has contributed a lot to the entertainment industry, through his creativity and his label, which houses talented acts.
He established his record label, Hypertek, following his departure from Kennis Music, a record company owned by Kenny Ogungbe. The label was founded in 2006, and is home to recording artists such as Victor Uwaifo, Dammy Krane and RockSteady. 2face is the co-owner of Rumors, a thriving nightclub with branches in Ikeja and Festac, Lagos.
6. Ayo Animashaun
He is the CEO of Smooth Promotions, an entertainment firm that owns Hip TV and organises The Headies. On November 5, 2013, he led his firm to the launch of HipTV on Multichoice DSTV and today, the platform has become one of the most watched cable music channels in Nigeria.
7. Tajudeen Adepetu
Tajudeen Adepetu is at the helm of one of Nigeria’s biggest media conglomerates. The media mogul, who has been described as the Ted Turner of Nigeria is the managing director of Consolidated Media Associates, owners of Soundcity, ONTV, Spice TV and the newly founded Urban Radio.
8. Ali Baba
Widely regarded as the king of comedy, Ali Baba has contributed a deal towards the growth of Nigerian entertainment industry. In his 50s, he has supported, mentored and presented several comedians helping to ensure that standards are maintained and professionalism encouraged. The industry, yes, the comedy industry though yet to be standardized, is growing fast and strong to the credit of the godfather of stand-up comedy.
He has been a professional stand up comedian for the past 22 years and has in the last 13 years received several awards, including the prestigious NET Honours.
King Sunny Ade aka KSA is popular Nigerian musician in the vanguard of the development and international popularisation of juju music—a fusion of traditional Yoruba vocal forms and percussion with Western rock and roll.
With multiple Grammy award nominations to his name and millions of albums sold worldwide, KSA, who recently turned 70, is one of the richest and most consistent Nigerian musicians of all time.
10. KWAM 1
King Wasiu Ayinde popularly known as K1 de Ultimate is one of the prominent figures in the Nigerian entertainment industry. A member of late Sikiru Ayinde Barrister’s band, from 1978 until 1984, K1 has assumed his mentor’s role as ‘king of Fuji,’ a style of dance music combining Juju, apala, and Yoruban blues. A prolific recording artist, KWAM1 as he’s also called, continues to update the fuji style.
11. Pasuma Wonder
Fuji music is currently one of the oldest genres of music in Nigeria. And one man who can be credited for the continued existence of the art especially among young people is Kwara state-born, Pasuma Wonder. With a career spanning over two decades, Pasuma has paid his dues and has continued to garner accolades from all over.
12. Alex Okosi
Alex Okosi is a Nigerian-born, US-educated media executive responsible for developing and launching MTV Africa (MTV Base) in February 2005. He has also spearheaded the launch of other localised Viacom brands in Africa encompassing Nickelodeon and Comedy Central.
Currently, he is responsible for managing the growth and development of the Viacom International Media Networks Africa business – a multichannel portfolio that reaches over 100 million viewers and includes MTV, MTV base, Nickelodeon, VH1, BET International and Comedy Central. Okosi is the creative force behind the MTV Africa Music Awards, a high-profile event that has helped talented African artists raise their international profile and status.
13. Don Jazzy
Producer, record label owner
Michael Collins Ajereh, popularly known as Don Jazzy, is a multiple award-winning record producer, singer-songwriter and musician. He’s the honcho of arguably Nigeria’s biggest record label, Mavin Records, a music powerhouse which boast of six very successful artistes who have hit songs and several endorsement deals. In his career, Don Jazzy has produced over 100 hit songs.
14. Shina Peller
Nightclub owner, record label executive
Regarded as the ‘King of Night Life,’ Shina runs Quilox, a nightclub that has become a toast of Nigerian entertainers and upwardly mobile ladies and gentlemen. Shina has also joined the list of record label owners, having recently floated Aquila Records.
15. Chris Ubosi
Chris Ubosi is the CEO of Megaletrics Limited, owners of Beat FM, Classic FM and Naija FM. He has in the last 24 years been actively involved in the telecommunications and broadcasting industries in Nigeria.
He is a pioneer in private broadcasting and new media in Nigeria, having run, operated and consulted severally for various top private radio stations in the country.
Artiste, record label executive
Oladapo Daniel Oyebanjo, popularly known as D’banj, is a Nigerian singer, songwriter and businessman. With several music awards and hit songs under his belt, D’banj is regarded as one of the biggest pop stars in Africa.
The boss of DB Records controls some of the biggest endorsements available. D’banj also has current endorsement deals with Ciroc, Globacom, One Campaign, Slot and Apple.
Though no recent major hit to his name, no album in many years, D’banj continues to wield his influence in the music sector and beyond.
Artiste, record label executive
Recording artiste, record label executive
His work and contribution to the Nigerian music industry has earned him several achievements, including a BET Award, a MOBO Award, three Headies awards, two Channel O Music Video Awards, four Nigeria Entertainment Awards, a Ghana Music Award, two Dynamix All Youth Awards, two City People Entertainment Awards, and a Future Award win.
In addition, he has been nominated three times at the MTV Europe Music Awards as well as four times at the World Music Awards. He was ranked 5th on Forbes and Channel O’s 2013 list of the Top 10 Richest/Bankable African Artists. In February 2014, Wizkidbecame the first ever Nigerian musician to have over one million followers on Twitter.
He’s now working with Chris Brown and Drake; featuring in the Canadian rapper’s chart-topping song, ‘One Dance’ and hoping to bring home a Grammy.
Artiste, record label executive
David Adedeji Adeleke, 23, is one of the most successful Nigerian pop stars today. Just like Wizkid, Davido has struggled to create new stars from his label. But he’s making his brand and his music go global, breaking sales records, and sealing the deals that should see him follow in Wizkid’s footsteps.
Recently, he signed a deal with SONY Music, and released his EP, Son Of Mercy on September 30.
20. DJ Jimmy Jatt
An innovator, teacher, speaker, helper and performer, Jimmy Jatt has helped in nurturing and influencing the careers of many DJs and artistes in Nigeria. His records of firsts remain unmatched across the continent.
21. Tiwa Savage
Tiwa Savage has evolved from being Mavin’s first lady to becoming the queen of the Nigeria’s pop music. She was away for a minute to have her baby, distracted for a minute by a nasty marriage scandal. but she’s now back on the scene to reclaim her top spot.
22. Cobhams Asuquo
Cobhams Emmanuel Asuquo is a Nigerian song writer/music producer who started his professional training as a lawyer, but later branched into music full-time to fulfill a lifelong desire.
He is CEO/Head of Productions of CAMP (Cobhams Asuquo Music Productions) which is currently representing himself, Bez Idakula and Stan Iyke. He was responsible for Aşa‘s highly acclaimed international album ASA and is responsible for more Nigerian hits than you’ll ever imagine.
23. Sola Fajobi
Sola Fajobi, the CEO of Digital Interactive Media, is the brain behind Xcite TV, Oodua TV, Next Movie Star, Supermom and other reality TV shows.
Femi ‘Kwame’ Aderibigbe, CEO of Virtual Media Group which owns the entertainment cable TV station Nigezie, is a renowned broadcaster-turned-media entrepreneur. Kwame, who also owns Orisun TV on Startimes, has also dabbled into hospitality business with the opening of a posh night club called Uptown.
25. Desmond Elliot
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 adverts.
26. Lanre Da Silva Ajayi
Lanre Da Silva Ajayi (LDA) runs one of the leading fashion labels in Nigeria. The beautiful woman started her business over a decade ago and has successfully made her eponymous label a big brand.
27. Mai Atafo
Fashion designer, event compere
Mai Atafo is a bespoke fashion tailor. He caught the attention of the fashion industry for the creation of his brand, Mai Atafo Inspired. Sitting as current Creative Director of Mai Atafo Inspired, Mai Atafo continues in the trail of his early career as a Strategy Director for an Advertising Agency, and brand manager for Guinness.
He’s now also an event compère and style consultant.
Bright Okpocha, better known by his stage name Basketmouth, is one of the few Nigerian stand-up comedians doing things differently. He’s built successful shows across the world, impressed the continent thanks to Comedy Central, and is now warming up to claim global renown.
29. Amin Mousalli
The bold and energetic Amin Moussalli, came to Nigeria in 1975 and founded AIM consultants, a company that is focused on architectural engineering designs. His love for broadcasting led him to creating leading Cool FM, now one of Nigeria’s leading radio brands. He’s since followed with Wazobia FM, Wazobia TV, and Nigeria Info.
30. Edi Lawani
A multi-discipline special projects consultant, event architect and showbiz consultant, Lawani possesses incredible influence having become the name on everyone’s lips when the topic concerns technical and events management. He has been around for well over 30 years and his influence has not diminished one bit.
31. Jason Njoku
Jason Chukwuma Njoku (born December 11 1980) 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.
32. Chris Ihidero
With an authoritative voice and calm demeanour, 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 film-maker Amaka Igwe for eight 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 currently head writer, for Africa Magic daily series HUSH.
33. Lancelot Imasuen
The Edo-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’.
Other international projects include 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.
34. Ade Bantu
Musician, founder of Afropolitan Vibes
Adegoke Odukoya, better known as Adé Bantu is a Nigerian-German musician, producer and activist. He is best known as the founder of the Afro-German musical collective and NGO Brothers Keepers and as the front man of the 12 piece band. Ade Bantu is the founder and co-organiser of the monthly gig Afropolitan Vibes. Born out of his desire to fill the gap of live musical performances in Nigeria, the Freedom Park event has continued to wow audiences with a line up of old and new singers who gather on Lagos Island every third Friday of the month.
35. Femi Kuti
Getting nominated for 4 Grammy Awards is no mean feat. Over the years, Femi Kuti has built up a huge following in the United States and across the world. As the undisputed King of Afrobeat, Femi Kuti has kept the genre alive, touring annually, collaborating with younger acts, and hosting – together with his sister Yeni – the annual Felabration in honour of their father Fela Kuti.
36. Peace Ayim Osigwe
AMAA Awards Founder
The brain behind Africa Movie Academy Awards, the continent’s longest-running honours event for movie practitioners. Any-Osigwe is also a behind-the-scenes influencer, policy adviser and producer.
37. Paul Okoye
Paul Okoye, has his hands in many places. Booking agent, talent manager, promoter, deal influencer, negotiator, media buying, name it. A former outsider has worked his way into serious influence, and everyone is giving him his due.
38. Linda Ikeji
Linda Ikeji is a Nigerian blogger, writer, entrepreneur and former model, best known for her personalised blog and charity.
From a business and career that has taken her seven years to build, Ms. Ikeji’s blog has become a personification of phenomenal success, earning her millions in annual turnover and the tag of ‘Nigeria’s most successful blogger – with many admirers and haters in tow.
39. Kene Mkparu
Regarded as King of Cinema, Kene Mkparu has contributed in bringing the cinema culture back in Nigeria. Kene Mkparu has over 24 years cinema and film industry experience. He is Founder and Group MD/CEO of Filmhouse Cinemas and FilmOne Production/Distribution NIgeria – currently (June 2015) with a chain of 9 cinemas since December 2012, and a strategic roll-out plan to reach 25 cinemas by 2016.
Prior to this Kene, in 2008, as Managing Director set up and launched Genesis Deluxe Cinemas Nigeria. He was also MD/CEO of FilmAFRICA UK (2005 – 2008) a production and distribution company that specialized in releasing African films in mainstream UK cinemas. Kene was General Manager with Odeon UK (1991 – 2008).
40. Sam Onyemelukwe
Mr. Onyemelukwe is a National Political Campaign Promotion and Branding Expert with over two decades of experience. Currently, Mr. Onyemelukwe heads the operations of EMC/TRACE Urban Nigeria. As Business Development Manager, he is directly responsible for all aspects of the commercial and operational activities as well as the campaigns of partner brands.
41. Tony Okoroji
Chief Tony Okoroji is Chairman of the COSON Board. A former PMAN president, he led the vanguard for the establishment of the Nigerian Copyright Commission and served twice on the Board of the Commission. Chief Okoroji is today one of Nigeria’s most respected authorities on Intellectual Property and continues to be an unrelenting voice in the campaign for the rights of creative people.
42. Igwe Gabriel Okoye
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 has now moved into national distribution with the BoI-supported G.Media.
43. Efe Omorogbe
Artiste manager and change agent
He’s CEO and Co-founder of Now Muzik, a talent management and recording agency. But Omorogbe will be remembered for his work in establishing the Copyright Society of Nigeria, after years of lobbying and campaigning.
44. Cecil Hammond
Cecil Hammond, the CEO of Flytime Entertainment, is a high profile show promoter and event organiser. His annual Rhythm Unplugged is an important platform in our annual calendar, and he’s a savvy promoter responsible for several recent music successes.
45. Akeem Olatunji Balogun
Movie marketer ( CEO Olasco Films)
Known for bankrolling many blockbusters which include Funke’s flicks- Jenifa, Return of Jenifa and Omo Ghetto 1 & 2, this popular movie marketer, commands respect in the movie industry, which is why many refer to him as the godfather of the movie marketers.
46. Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde
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.
47. Bizzle Osikoya
Top plugger, promoter, influencer and A&R expert. One of the many underground workers now warming up to fame, thanks to social media.
48. Odunlade Adekola
Actor, Producer, 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. He is easily in the frontline when any compilation of the list of those dictating the pace of the Yoruba movie industry is compiled
49. Dele Odule
He’s the president of the new guild of the Yoruba movie industry, Theatre and Motion Picture Practitioners of Nigeria (TAMPPAN). The Ogun-state born actor is one of the key men in the Yoruba movie industry. He came into acting 30 years ago and has become a household name in the industry.
50. Emem Isong
Movie producer, writer
Emem Isong is one of the most respected people in the Nollywood industry. Beginning her career in 1994, she has excelled in writing and producing movies. With provoking and well thought out plots, she has earned her place in Nollywood as one of the best screenplay writers.
She 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
51. Kunle Afolayan
Kunle Afolayan is of Yoruba descent but his fame runs across the African continent and the rest of the world where he’s seen as the face of ‘New Nollywood’, a.k.a leader of the new school.
Since he made a grand entrance in 2005, he has been active in the Nigerian film industry. He has made several successful movies including: his latest project The CEO, Irapada, The Figurine: Araromire, Phone Swap, and award-winning October 1.
52. Tunde Kelani
Tunde Kelani, popularly known as TK, is a Nigerian filmmaker, storyteller, director, photographer, cinematographer and producer. In a career spanning more than four decades, TK specialises in producing movies that promote Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage and have a root in documentation, archiving, education, entertainment and promotion of the culture.
53. Wale Adenuga
Wale Adenuga is the chairman of Wale Adenuga Production, WAP; a former cartoonist/publisher, and currently a TV series producer, with Super Story, Nnenna and friends, This Life among others. Before the growth of the film industry, Adenuga had released the celluloid movie Papa Ajasco, which was based on the main character in Ikebe Super, in 1983. Papa Ajasco made history as the first English comedy in an industry which had been dominated by Yoruba productions.
In 2009, he was conferred with the Member of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria honour (MFR) as acknowledgement of his immense contribution to the growth and development of the Nigerian entertainment industry.
54. Clarence Peters
Clarence Peters (born Clarence Abiodun Peters) is a Nigerian music video director, filmmaker and cinematographer. He is the founder and CEO of CAPital Dream Pictures, a production company that specialises in performing arts, new media art, film, television, radio, and video.
He took the baton from DJ Tee as Nigeria’s most wanted music video director. No one knows when he’ll pass it on.
55. Genevieve Nnaji
Genevieve Nnaji has expanded her relevance from acting to modelling, music, entrepreneurship and movie production. Unlike most of her colleagues, she started off very early with her first role coming when she was only eight years old. At the age of 19, her role in the movie Most Wanted catapulted her to fame. She is an ambassador to several notable brands including Lux and most recently, Etisalat.
56. Lanre Dabiri
The former rapper has moved to the US. But his relevance to the Nigerian music scene has not waned. Thanks to Playdata, a start-up working to provide data on music consumption on Nigerian radio. Pundits say his efforts will go a long way to help restructure compensation for rights owners.
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