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Rise and rise of Nollywood ‘fresh faces’

By Shaibu Husseini
13 March 2021   |   3:06 am
It will be in order to describe them as ‘emerging actors’ some five to seven years ago. But today, some of these talents have stepped up so well and have been blazing the trail and pulling their own strings


It will be in order to describe them as ‘emerging actors’ some five to seven years ago. But today, some of these talents have stepped up so well and have been blazing the trail and pulling their own strings. Here is a quick pick of some of yesterday’s ‘fresh faces’ that have become regular faces on the screen and constant visitors to several homes with their stunning movie run.

Zainab Balogun
A notable television show host and co-founder of The J-ist TV, an online entertainment web series that highlights African culture and a range of topical issues, Zainab had made steady inroads into the Nigerian motion picture scene. Blessed with beauty and brain, the native of Abeokuta in Ogun State who attended the University of Kent in Medway where she received a Bachelor of Law degree (LLB), has appeared in several shows including BBC One’s Material Girl, a 2012 Bollywood movie Cocktail, the Charlatans by Ashley Waters and a 2011 appearance in Christopher Nolan’s film The Dark Knight Rises.

Back on home soil, the two-time winner of the Exquisite Lady of the Year (ELOY) award for television presentation (2013/2014) has featured in a couple of critically acclaimed movies including A Soldiers Story, the very successful The Wedding Party, Ojukokoro, The Wedding Party 2 and The Royal Hibiscus Hotel. The British born Nigerian actress and model turned television presenter has also featured on the credit lines of movies such as

Sylva, Kofa, Fine Wine, God Calling, Chief Daddy and Entreat.
Bisola Aiyeola

A one-time Big Brother Nigeria first runner-up and recipient of the 2018 AMVCA Trail Blazer award, Bisola Aiyeola has been grabbing screen roles easily since she stepped up a few years ago. A singer, actress and star of Ovy and Picture Perfect and a couple of critically acclaimed short films and web series, Bisola who participated in the 2008 edition of MTN Project Fame has remained focused on her mission to remain on the list of the industry’s recognisable faces.

Movies that have benefited from her believable performance include Two Grannies And A Baby, Sugar Rush, Pay Day,

Gold Statue, The Bling Lagosian, This Lady Called Life, and The Becoming of Obim.
Sharon Ooja

Star of the wave-making movie by Ebony Life production Oloture, Sharon Ooja has been having a good and steady run as an actress. Listed by the entertainment website as a top female celebrity of 2020 and a Nollywood actress to look out for in 2021, Sharon, an indigene of Benue State and a Mass Communication graduate started her acting career in 2013.

The star of the popular web series Skinny Girl in Transit and show host has featured in a number of television series and movies including Gidi Up, Kambili, The Whole 30 Yards, Coming From Insanity, Bling Lagosians, King of

Boys, Lara, And The Beat, and Moms at War featuring Funke Akindele and Michelle Dede.
Busayo Esther Adeyeye

You probably won’t find anyone among the large audience of Yoruba movies if you ask of Busayo Esther Adeyeye. But mention Ayo Adey and fingers will point to the Lagos-born actress and product of the Psychology Department of the University of Lagos. An actress and producer of mounting credits, Ayo Adey joined the movie industry two years after she completed the mandatory National Youth Service Corps Scheme. Since then, Ayo Adey has been pulling her strings, acting in and signing memorable productions.

Inspired by the acting prowess of celebrated actors like Peju Ogunmola, Angelina Jolie, and Joke Silva, Ayo Adey has signed notable productions including Alarade, Ina Abe, Oko Longe, Ojiji Oga, Ohun Ton Dan, and Olofin Tooto. Her career ambition is to make a difference in the Nigerian movie space.

Bolanle Ninalowo
Debonair and handsome Bolanle is perhaps one of the most featured of the ‘emerging actors’ of the last ten years. Hailed by the yellow press as ‘Nollywood’s bad boy’, the former banker turned actor and producer has been cutting the swath since he returned to the industry in 2014 after he took a short break to attend to ‘other issues’.

Since he returned, the producer of Rebirth has been walking in and out of location grabbing the lead and supporting roles. Recipient of the 2018 City People Movie Award for best actor of the year ‘English’ and 2017 Best of Nollywood award for Actor in a leading role ‘English’, Nino as the actor is simply called by close friends and colleagues, has featured in critically acclaimed movies such as Road To Yesterday, 30 Years A Virgin, Iya Iyawo, Night Bus To Lagos, Coming From Insanity, A Fire in The Rain, Ratnik, Husbands of Lagos, and Picture Perfect.

Rotimi Salami
Although trained as a movie director at the New York Film Academy, Akin Salami is doing well as an actor and has been grabbing screen credits right and left. Star of well-acclaimed movies like Mentally, Omoye, Stormy Hearts, Timeless and winner of the best-supporting actor award at the 2017 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Award (AMVCA), the star of the award-winning movie Just Not Married, Salami had his break in 2007 on the set of ‘Unknown Revenge’ and later on a television series produced by Ola Razak titled Shangisha Kingdom.

He has continued to grab roles both in the movies and on television. Some of the television series and movies he has starred in include the long-running Tinsel, Super storey, Silent Night, About to Wed, Dear Mother, Kuti’s Career Palace, Emerald, Alan Poza, Bella’s Place, Leave My Boyfriend, 11th Hour, Papa Ajasco, and Crack in the Wall.

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