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Toast to Nollywood’s men of the bar

By Shaibu Husseini
26 September 2020   |   2:25 am
There is a long list of Nollywood actors who are law graduates. But while some of them branched out to study law and then get on with their other passion, top actor Richard Mofe Damijo, Kenneth Okonkwo, Femi Adebayo

There is a long list of Nollywood actors who are law graduates. But while some of them branched out to study law and then get on with their other passion, top actor Richard Mofe Damijo, Kenneth Okonkwo, Femi Adebayo and most recently Kanayo O. Kanayo followed it up until the stage of the mandatory Call to Bar, which confers on them the physical right to practice law. The spotlight is on these notable actors who should be rightly called ‘Men of the Bar’ in Nollywood.

Kenneth Okonkwo
NOTABLE Nollywood actor Kenneth Okonkwo was called to the Nigeria bar. Interestingly, the actor of vast credit never had ‘wearing the wig and gown’ as a career wish. Even his playing the unemployed man- Andy, who sacrificed his wife-Merit on the altar of greed in that ground breaking two-part movie by Kenneth Nnebue titled Living in Bondage (LIB), was just an attempt to satisfy an urge to act.

In fact, there was nothing, prior to 1992 (the year LIB was released), that suggested that Ken was going to emerge an actor or even a legal practitioner. The award-winning actor and Business Administration graduate of the University of Nigeria (UNN), Nsukka, Enugu State, had his eyes on emerging a businessman.

However, Ken found a new love: acting upon graduation. The bulk of Ken’s motivation, apart from the fact that he had been inspired by the acting stuff exhibited by some members of cast of some of the early television hits like Mirror in the Sun and the New Masquerade, came from the conviction that excelling in life does not ‘necessarily depend on what one studied in school.

His first appearance on screen was playing Captain John Mark in Ripples, the long rested television soap by Zeb Ejiro. Next was his effort as Andy in LIB. It took that effort and some of his subsequent offerings for Ken to confirm that he was in a dialogue with his destiny.

Hailed as a ‘power dresser’, Ken who recently went into politics instantly became a big earner and toast of most movie producers in Nollywood. And since then, he has not faded off the consciousness of most fans of Nollywood. The happily married actor deservedly enjoys a good rating as an actor in Nollywood. He similarly enjoys a proud place of honour in the story of Nollywood especially when told from the days of LIB.

Richard Mofe Damijo
APPROACHABLE, quintessential, magnetic and immensely talented actor Richard Mofe Damijo or RMD for short was called to the Nigerian bar. A top rated actor with vast credits, the Warri, Delta State native and former Delta State Commissioner of Culture under the administration of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan has had a remarkable career as an actor and has indeed enjoyed super roles on stage and screen.

Acting for the actor’s actor who has proved to be a world-class material, came naturally. His passion for acting led him to study theatre arts at the University of Benin. He graduated four years later having bagged a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre Arts majoring in Dramatic Theatre and Criticism. The deep actor, publisher, Public Relations practitioner later studied law at the University of Lagos and was called to the bar. Married to the broadcaster turned communication consultant Jumobi Mofe Damijo nee Adegbesan, RMD has continued to remain as relevant in the Nigeria motion picture industry as sugar and icing is to cake.

Femi Adebayo
SON of the veteran actor and filmmaker Chief Adebayo Salami, who is popular as Oga Bello, Femi was called to the Nigerian bar and actually practiced property and commercial law before he hung the wig and gown for a full time career as a filmmaker. Star and producer of the hit film Jelili, the talented actor, producer and lawyer, who is also a trained theatre artiste, has proven over time that he could be relied upon as an actor and also as a producer.

A native of Ilorin in Kwara State, who attended the University of Ilorin where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Law and a Master of Arts degree in Theatre Arts, Femi began acting in 1995, the same year he featured in a Tade Ogidan movie titled Owo Blow. The always smartly dressed actor has starred in several Nigerian films, but mostly Yoruba films including Sonto Alapata, Wura Ati Fadaka, Ma Wobadan and the comic movie Buga.

The honcho of J-15 Media Network Nigeria and star of Kunle Afolayan’s critically acclaimed film October 1, where he again proved his versatility, Femi has won a number of industry awards including receiving the City People Entertainment Award for Best Movie Producer of the year (Yoruba) in 2015 and registering his name on the Afro-Hollywood list of outstanding actors.

Kanayo O. Kanayo
POPULAR Nollywood actor Modestus Onyechere Anayo, otherwise knows as Kanayo O. Kanayo, is the latest entrant into the unofficial club of Men of the Bar in Nollywood. The top rated actor, who has shown total commitment to excellence, was recently called to the Nigerian bar. KOK, as the actor is simply called, is now a certified member of the legal profession in Nigeria.

A native of the small wine-tapping town of Nru Umueze Oboama, in Ezinihitte Mbasie, Local Council of Imo State, Kanayo’s debut performance on screen was as Chief Omego, a supporting actor in the groundbreaking home video production Living in Bondage. A gifted actor who enjoys mass appeal both within and outside Nigeria, it took only that effort in Living in Bondage for KOK, who was appointed by the Board of Trustees of the Actor Guild of Nigeria (AGN) at a time to head the guild in interim capacity, to draw attention to his honest and concise handling of roles.

Today, KOK, who made two unsuccessful attempts to represent his community of Ahiazu/Ezinihitte Mbaise Federal Constituency in Imo State at the Federal House of Representatives, is celebrated as an actor of outstanding ability. Star of four of NTA’s rested soaps, Ripples, Checkmates, Village Headmaster and the New Masquerade, KOK has featured in over 120 movies with a lot more still at various stages of production. In Kanayo’s movie pouch are such critically acclaimed works like Desperate Billionaire, Living Dead, Blood Money, Rituals, Lost kingdom, Fire on the Mountain, Billionaires Club, Apaye, and more recently Up North.