Since its early days of TV shows produced by the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) in the 70s and 80s, Nollywood has grown into one of the largest movie industries in the world, and in fact, it is currently the country’s second-largest employer after Agriculture.
In the last 10 years, Nigerian movies have earned millions of dollars in box office numbers and the popularity of Nollywood films has even reached nations all across the globe. But sadly, women are still yet to benefit from this success like they deserve, and we join them to agree with the fact that something must be done to correct that distasteful fact.
The current reality is that, despite Kemi Adetiba, Mo Abudu, Genevieve Nnaji, and Funke Akindele ruling the industry with their successful projects in recent years, Nollywood is still an industry dominated by men, which has led to the sector delivering more male-led productions and influence.
The most annoying part is the fact that Nigerian women are majorly portrayed in Nigerian movies as house helps, child bearers, cooks, bed warmers, and these background roles have done nothing but relegate the gender to the bench while their male counterparts continue to take the shine on the screen.
Popular Nollywood actor and producer, Eku Edewor was having none of it when she pointed out that since women make up 60% of the Nollywood film audience, representing the gender better in our movies is only fair. According to her, women deserve a louder voice in our movie industry, and producers just have to stop telling their stories majorly from a male point of view.
It is very clear that these stereotypical portrayals of women imposed on Nigerians will end up becoming harmful in the long run as they will aid the viewers to keep promoting the same norms that have established gender inequality in this part of the world.
Luckily for us, there are a few Nollywood movies that have done the female gender proud by flaunting powerful, talented and more representative women-led characters, and we can only pray for more to come in the nearest future. Want to know more about these projects i’m talking about? See the Best Nollywood Movies That Celebrate The Female Gender (2022).
1. Lionheart (2018):
Popular Nollywood legend, Genevieve Nnaji’s directorial debut took Nigeria by storm and its success was well deserved. It was the first Netflix original film to be produced in the country and it also got selected as the Nigerian entry for Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards in 2020.
“Lionheart” went on to become the first Nigerian movie to be submitted to the Oscars for award consideration, and it stars Adaeze Obiagu (played by Genevieve,) who made up her mind to run her dad’s business to save it from debt and threats of a takeover.
Her father (played by Pete Edochie,) stepped down due to health concerns, but with the backing of her uncle, Godswill (played by Nkem Owoh,) Adaeze took it upon herself to challenge the norm in the male-dominated world that is Nigeria’s transportation industry.
2. Muna (2019):
Nollywood action thrillers are quite rare, and when producers eventually take a chance on such projects, the action scenes are often poorly executed. However, this was not the case with “Muna” as the brains behind the project clearly pulled off something most Nollywood productions have failed at in the past.
The project took 2nd place on the Nigerian box office chart in its second week of release, only behind Disney’s Frozen 2, to prove that unique efforts get rewarded in the movie industry. The story revolved around Muna, a s exual a buse and tr afficking victim who decided to seek revenge.
Muna was played by the famous Adesua Etomi-Wellington, and the movie showed the wrath of a woman when the male gender trespasses or tampers with her precious dignity. Its theme is centred around c hild tr afficking, s exual vi olence and revenge, and it features Robert Miano, a Hollywood actor.
3. King of Boys (2018):
This one features Adesua Etomi-Wellington again, but this time alongside the legendary Sola Sobowale. It was Kemi Adetiba’s second film and the movie genius actually wrote, co-produced and directed it. Going on to become the sixth-highest grossing Nollywood movie of all time in Nigeria definitely proved that what our men can do, women can do even better.
This project tells the story of a successful businesswoman named Eniola Salami, whose political ambition is derailed by the underworld connections responsible for her riches and influence. The power battle that followed ended up costing her a lot, and it was far from a jolly ride from then on.
“King of Boys” sequel was released as a seven-part limited series on Netflix last year, and it did not fail to meet expectations.
4. 93 Days (2016):
If you can remember, a doctor’s act was vital to the containment of the Ebola virus outbreak in Nigeria in 2014. But sadly, Dr. Stella Adadevoh passed away from complications after coming in contact with the virus in the same year. The movie simply based its storyline on the amazing act of commitment and professionalism Stella delivered to her nation which went on to save the lives of millions of Nigerians.
Popular actor, Bimbo Akintola played Adadevoh in this film and every scene detailed her sacrifices to make sure the Ebola virus did not spread beyond control in the country. The movie also features superstars like Danny Glover and Alastair McKenzie, Somkele Iyamah-Idhalama and Keppy Ekpeyong Bassey.
This project was so successful that it aired in front of a sold-out audience at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Chicago International Film Festival, Johannesburg Film Festival and LA Film Festival.
5. Wives On Strike (2016):
This movie was produced and directed by Omoni Oboli, and its story centred around 4 market women who decided to deny their husbands lovemaking in order to force them to defend a young girl who was being forced by her dad to marry a man against her will.
The cast included popular Nollywood stars like Ufuoma McDermott, Chioma Akpotha, Kehinde Bankole, and even if it was a comedy project, it did an excellent job with shedding light on cultural practices that harm Nigerian women and girls. It also highlights child marriage and sexual abuse of minors in ways they have never been tackled before.
Best Fast-Rising Actresses Ready To Take Over The Nollywood Industry:
Nollywood is currently blessed with several actresses who are striving hard to make a name for themselves. Some of these movie stars have shown zero signs of easing off in recent times, and we can only look forward to these future generation stars putting their faces out there to ensure Nollywood fans get used to having them around. Below are some of the names to look out for:
1. Caroline Igben:
Caroline is one of the best actresses out there right now and she has featured in a good number of movies in recent years. Some of her 2021 projects include “Trump Card,” “Date Night,” “One Way,” “Ponzi,” “Last Touch,” “The Griot,” and her amazing performances have kept many eyes glued to her talent and growth.
2. Stella Udeze:
Stella is a brilliant Nollywood actress who came into the limelight after delivering an unforgettable performance in the Nollywood movie titled “Strange Twins.” The Imo State talent is capable of interpreting any role given to her by producers, even if she is currently known as the romantic and epic movie future star.
Some of the blockbusters projects she is known for include “Bleeding King,” “Joro,” “Baby Mama, Spellbound,” “Best Friends,” “Double Stud,” “Wheel of Fate,” “Before Getting Married,” “A Week to My Wedding,” “Melting Point,” and so on.
3. Chinenye Nnebe:
Nnebe is definitely one of the fastest-rising actresses in the Nigerian movie industry, and her mum, Uche Nancy, brought her into Nollywood. She is surely one of the young actresses to look out for after displaying amazing performances whenever she plays the role of a wife, city girl, girlfriend and even a mother.
4. Sharon Ifedi:
Sharon is another talent Nollywood fans admire because of her obvious acting gift and creativity in every scene she features in. She has worked with top stars on different movie projects, and she is currently one of the most sought-after teenage actresses in Nigeria. Many have since tipped her to become a future star who will break records for years to come and we cannot disagree.
5. Sonia Uche:
Sonia is a fast-rising actress in Nollywood who deserves our immediate attention. This stunning Nigerian movie star is the elder sister of popular actress, Chinenye Nnebe, and just like her sibling, Sonia Uche is blessed with very special acting skills that set her apart from her peers.
She has starred alongside some famous Nollywood actors, including her younger sister, and she is known to play the roles of a wife, princess, village girl and so on. Watch out for Sonia Uche and expect her to become a household name very soon.
6. Chioma Blessing Nwaoha:
Chioma is another fast-rising actresses who starred in several top Nollywood projects in 2021. These movies drew attention to her face and talent, and many currently expect her to do amazing things very soon. She is very gifted when it comes to interpreting several roles, including the roles of a princess, maiden, slay queen and so on.
The young talent is very active in the movie industry nowadays, and we expect her to prove her worth over and over again before 2022 runs out.
7. Adaeze Onuigbo:
Adaeze is a teenage actress who is already making a name for herself in the Nigerian movie industry. Her confidence and creativity in front of the cameras have earned her several movie roles alongside famous Nollywood actors, and she still manages to stand out in every project.
Onuigbo has starred in more than 50 Nollywood movies right now, and her fans are already expecting her to keep boosting her acting CV while making her mark in the country’s movie industry.