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Toast to five Nollywood legends still active

By Shaibu Husseini
15 October 2022   |   4:07 am
The spotlight this week is on the aging Nollywood actors and actresses that are still working. Moviedom curated a long list of notable actors who are 70 and above who have continued to take on challenging and impressive acting roles both on the big and small screen. But to qualify for this diet, the actor…

The spotlight this week is on the aging Nollywood actors and actresses that are still working. Moviedom curated a long list of notable actors who are 70 and above who have continued to take on challenging and impressive acting roles both on the big and small screen. But to qualify for this diet, the actor or actress had to be at least 70 and should have featured in a film in the past year or be working on one currently…

Chief Lere Paimo
VETERAN movie actor, Chief Lere Paimo, is still working at 83. A few months back, the actor of vast credit who was born on November 19, 1939, spent two weeks on location in Ibadan, portraying the late controversial Ibadan based politician Lamidi Adedibu in a new biopic Adedibu, Alagbara Ibadan produced by Publisher of Best of Nollywood Magazine Seun Oloketuyi. The movie is scheduled to hit cinemas later in the year.

Popular as ‘Eda Onile Ola’, the son of a tobacco and yam farmer who obatained a Teacher’s Grade Two certificate from Gold Coast (Ghana) is a recipient of several awards including the award of the national honours of Member of the Federal Republic (MFR). Before his foray into theatre and then movies, Chief Paimo worked as a classroom teacher in Osogbo, Osun State. It was while working as a teacher at the Baptist Missionary School that he joined the then foremost Osogbo based Oyin Adejobi Theatre group founded by Pa Oyinade Adejobe. The group was famous for performing plays in schools, churches and on invitations.

From the Oyin Adejobi Theatre group, Chief Paimo joined the late Duro Ladipo Theatre group on the invitation of the legendary performer of the Oba Koso fame. It was while under the artistic tutelage that Chief Paimo got the opportunity to feature as ‘Eda’, a Yoruba version of the epic play, Everyman. It was his delightful performance as ‘Eda’ that earned him the alias ‘Eda Onile Ola’.

Chief Paimo who holds the traditional title of Aare Arobajo of Ogbomoso land established the Lere Paimo Theatre group in 1973, after the demise of Chief Duro Ladipo whom, as he revealed, mentored him for about twelve years. The production force and lead actor in the epic Yoruba movie titled Ogbori Elemoso. Chief Paimo who is married with children has been able to cut across both the Yoruba and the English genre and the Ogbomoso, Oyo State born octogenarian who doubles as a performance poet and dancer is still grabbing credits at 83.

Taiwo Ajai-Lycett – The Africa Center

Taiwo Ajai-Lycett
WHEN Ebonylife Production and Netflix Co-produced epic movie Elesin Oba (The Kings Horseman) is released later in the month, the legendary Taiwo Ajai-Lycett will feature as Madam Taiwo. Directed by the late Biyi Bandele, the movie is a 2022 production and was shot entirely in Nigeria.

Indeed, there is no stopping the stage and screen goddess Taiwo Ajai-Lycett at 81. Auntie TAL, as the actress is simply called by younger colleagues, is still very active as a performer.

A trained photojournalist and a member of numerous professional organisations, TAL who was in 2006 awarded the national honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON), started her acting career on stage at the prestigious Royal Court Theatre London. She has also appeared in numerous UK Television drama productions.  Back home in Nigeria, TAL found home on the live stage and on screen.

Some of her stage and screen appearances include, Song of a Goat, Death and the King’s Horseman, Winds Against My Soul, Dazzling Mirage and more recently Kemi Adetiba’s King of Boys.

Iya Rainbow

Esther Idowu-Phillips
THE veteran actress of the screen and stage, Esther Idowu Phillips, aka Iya Rainbow or Mrs. Fabulous, will be 80 on October 16. The fiery actress was on a movie set last week when a pre-birthday toast was proposed in her honour.

Undeniably strong, active and agile, Iya Rainbow hails from Odogbolu in Ogun State. A mother, grandmother and trained nurse, Mama Rainbow, a widow who was married to the late actor Femi Phillips Oroniyi, had her debut on stage. It was from the stage that the mother of five children moved to television and then home movies.

The first set of movies the elderly actress featured in include Aje Ni Iya Mi and Eru, and Asiri Nla by Jide Kosoko, which as she agreed brought her to limelight. She has since moved on to feature in about 500 movies, including television commercials and still counting.

Lanre Hassan (Iya Awero)
AT almost 73, veteran actress, Lanre Hassan aka Iya Awero, is still working and leaving memorable impressions. An indigene of Lagos Island (Isale-Eko), Lagos State, Olanrewaju Adesina Hassan earned the alias Iya Awero because of her role in the defunct television comedy series, Comedy Half Hour, produced by the Ojo Ladipo theatre group. It was as a member of the Ojo Ladipo group that Mama Awero’s love for acting became intense.

When the legendary Ojo Ladipo died, the Ojo Ladipo Group was renamed Awada Kerikeri Organisation (AKO) and Mama Awero stayed on and performed on stage and screen, leaving positive impressions. Mama Awero has not looked back since then and she has not done anything else apart from featuring in movies, television and stage productions.

The mother and grandmother has so far featured in countless movie production with the most recent being her appearance as Iya Loja’ in Kemi Adetiba’s crime blockbuster movie King of Boys. A Fellow of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), who is hailed as a natural talent and a gifted actress, those who have followed what is widely considered to be her prolific career as an actress— a career that has spanned five decades now — say the acclaimed quality and skillful theatre amazon should be celebrated for her dexterity on the acting turf.

Peter Fatomilola

Peter Fatomilola
VETERAN stage and screen actor, poet, and traditionalist, Peter Fatomilola, is 76 and he still working. The actor in the professional class starred in a 2022 movie titled Second Term featuring Femi Adebayo and Jide Kosoko.

A dramatist, poet and prolific playwright, the actor who is best known for playing a priest in most Yoruba movies has been grabbing roles with ease since he began acting over five decades ago. His most recent acting credits include Gold Statue (2019), Rise of the Saints (2020) and Love Castle (2021)