The reality about any industry, be it Sports, Movies, Music or Banking is that, many are called, but only few will be chosen. And as far as Nollywood actresses and movie producers are concerned, not many will argue with the fact that Funke Akindele and Genevieve Nanji are clearly in a class of their own. Both household names can boldly come out to say that they are doing what they were actually born to do and a lot of people will immediately agree.
As you already know, the Nigerian entertainment industry has grown tremendously in recent years, and not many talents have been strong and spirited enough to survive it. The reality is that as professionals like Funke Akindele and Genevieve Nanji decided to not rest on their oars and kept on pushing for their big break, past colleagues have since given up and fallen off because they could no longer take the heat.
Nowadays, if we are talking 2 players in the Nollywood game who fought their way to achieve success, international recognition, gain lots of endorsement, respect, prominence and awards, look no further than these two actresses who rarely act together.
With such talent, belief, dedication and determination, Funke and Genevieve have definitely earned the right to be among Nollywood hotshots today and rarely will you see a list of Nigerian movie heavyweights that will exclude them. However, it hasn’t been a smooth ride for both of them and they have surely paid their dues in the industry to attain their current level of recognition. Let’s break down their growth:
To a lot of us, our earliest memory of Funke was when she played the role of a young secondary school girl named Bisi in one of the most popular drama series at the time, “I Need To Know.” It was a United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) sponsored series which aired from 1988 to 2002, and it really had Nigerians glued to their TV screens.
It was this period that Akindele seized her moment to shine and she surely attracted the eyeballs of several Nigerians to eventually became the big name that she is today. Her talent in front of the cameras was very obvious and this led to her featuring in several Nollywood films for so many years, especially in the Yoruba film industry.
Her turning point though, if you can remember, came in her own movie titled, “Jenifa,” in 2008. Even if it was a Yoruba project, its comic feel still pleased Nigerians who were not even from that part of the country. In fact, the movie was responsible for a lot of the slangs on the street back then with several young Nigerians adopting her manner of speaking for a while.
Funke Akindele went on to win an Africa Movie Academy Award (AMAA) for the Best Actress in a Leading Role after Jenifa’s success. She eventually made part two of the movie after it blew up, and the newer version was also successful in 2011. All this and more went a long way in stamping Akindele into the consciousness of Nigerian movie lovers, and it even attracted more eyeballs to the Yoruba genre of the Nollywood film industry.
Funke, by the way, kept seeing “Jenifa” as an unfinished project and even started a TV series titled “Jenifa’s Diary.” which was launched in 2014 and still runs to date. Years passed and Funke’s fanbase increased, leading her to become the most followed Nigerian actress on Instagram with 13 million followers.
The ever-reliable Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN) also confirmed that Funke’s new project, “Omo Ghetto” maintained its number one spot for three weeks and in January 2021, and had earned N468,036,300 at the time.
As far as endorsement is concerned, several brands have been wanting a taste of Funke Akindele-Bello, and she has definitely made her mark with top companies like Globacom, Dettol, Irokotv, Keystone Bank, Waw Nigeria, Molphix Diapers, Kellogs Cereal Brand, Amen Estate, Jobberman, Vitafoam and Western Lotto. From working with brands in the telecom industry and in the real estate sector, Funke also ranks as one of Nigeria’s highest-paid influencers.
She was born on August 24, 1977, in the Ikorodu area of Lagos and she obtained an Ordinary National Diploma (OND) in Mass Communication from Moshood Abiola Polytechnic. Her education did not stop there as she got a Law degree from the University of Lagos years later.
Funke is estimated to be worth about $3.5 million, which makes her one of the richest actresses in Nigeria today. The superstar’s legacy is already defined as she has been an all-time winner of the AMVCA awards, a respected plaque she also got over 8 nominations for in the recent 2022 edition.
Funke Akindele’s Failed Marriage:
Akindele-Bello Olufunke Ayotunde a.k.a Funke Akindele is one of the many celebrities that have experienced marriage more than once. On May 26, 2012, the successful movie star married Adeola Kehinde Oloyede, but their union crashed barely a year after and the couple parted ways in July 2013.
After breaking up with Kehinde, she has since married popular Nigerian singer, Abdul Rasheed Bello a.k.a JJC Skillz, and they had their wedding in London. The couple is currently blessed with twins.
A personal favourite for most Nollywood fans, Genny is one of Africa’s best actresses, and not many will argue with the fact that she is incredibly beautiful. Nnaji presently tops the chart of highest-paid actresses in the country and it is no surprise after the fantastic career she has had over the years.
The stunning movie star has grown tremendously since she started out as a pretty Nollywood face who was acting alongside some of the legends who have since left the screen for the new school. She attended the Methodist Girls College Yaba before heading to the University of Lagos, where she started auditioning for acting gigs.
Her big break happened when she acted in the movie titled “Most Wanted,” at 19, and since then, she hasn’t looked back. Her father was an engineer and her mother a teacher, but Nnaji decided to choose the movie path and eventually made her mark enough to win the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role in 2005, making her the first actor to win the award.
In 2011, Genevieve was honoured as a member of the order of the Federal Republic by the Nigerian government for her contributions to Nollywood and her directorial debut movie, Lionheart, which remains the first Netflix Original from Nigeria and the first Nigerian submission for the Oscars.
This legend has already proven to be a force to be reckoned with in the Nollywood industry by starring in over 100 films over the last 3 decades, and her rise to legendary status has surely led to the growth of the industry itself across Africa and the world.
It surely took years of pain, struggle, hard work and dedication for Genevieve to attain her current height in the Nigerian film industry, especially when she only produced her first movie titled “Road to Yesterday,” in 2015, a successful project that later won Best Movie Overall – West Africa at the 2016 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards, an award that opened the door for her several other AMVCA awards.
Genevieve is the fourth of eight children and she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Arts, which explains her desire for the screen. She is known as the queen of endorsements as she has featured in many commercials, including the popular promo work she did with Pronto (beverage) and Omo detergent. Nnaji went on to become the Face of Lux in 2004, and in 2008, she launched her own clothing line, “St. Genevieve,” which donates its proceeds to charity.
Nigeria stood still when Genevieve got endorsed by Etisalat Nigeria many years ago, and the deal was reportedly worth N100 million. She then made history again when she penned a multi-million naira Range Rover deal years ago, earning her about $100,000 in the first six months of the deal. After those six months, she made $250,000 more when she got another endorsement deal from Polo, a designer outfit marketer of luxury wristwatches, sunglasses e.t.c.
Genevieve has since been confirmed as NB PLC and Amstel Malta ambassador since then, and her long-lasting hard work and talent are expected to earn her more deals in years to come.
Genevieve Nnaji’s Love Life:
Genevieve Nnaji has come out to say that she sees herself married with kids in the next 10 years. According to her, however, she is not planning anything by herself and she will be depending on what God has fashioned out for her future, even if she expects to still be in the entertainment industry or the fashion world for years to come.
Rarely known to be one who speaks about her love life, Nnaji has also been heard saying what she wants in a man is someone who will take her for who she is, not what he heard or what he believes. According to her, she likes people who take her for the person they see and have experiences with, and of course, trust is very important when it comes to her relationships.
The actress added that there is nothing like love at first sight, only infatuation at first sight. She believes love is too strong a feeling to be experienced when you just meet someone. According to her, most people just confuse infatuation with love even when they are clearly 2 different things. Genny wrapped up by saying love can only happen when you get to meet and spend time with a person, not just physically, but emotionally as well.