Over the years, several Nollywood actors and actresses in Nigeria have tried their hands on one profession or the other outside of the film industry. If it’s not music, it’s real estate, if it’s not modelling, it’s politics. If you ask them the thought process behind the switch in careers, majority will say it is to try something new, and as far as the political aspirers are concerned, they want to serve the people.
Whatever the reason is, legit or with an ulterior motive, these actors should be applauded for moving outside their comfort zone and taking on new journeys they have never been familiar with. Let’s break down the names in our list of Best Nollywood Actors Who Have Tried Politics (2022).
1. Femi Adebayo:
This talented movie star is a Nigerian director, film actor, lawyer, producer and comedian. He is the son of veteran actor, Adebayo Salami and he was born on the 31st of December 1978 in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria. Femi Adebayo attended the C&S College for his secondary school education before proceeding to the University of Ilorin, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Law. He eventually furthered his education till he got his master’s degree in Law at the University of Ibadan.
Femi started acting in 1985, which was the same year he starred in his dad’s first movie titled “Ogun Ajaye.” He has featured in more than 500 Nollywood films since that time and he clinched an award as “Best Yoruba Actor” at the 17th African Film Awards in London. His recognition in the movie industry did not end there, Adebayo also won a “Best Yoruba Actor” award at the Best of Nollywood Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria Awards in 2012.
Few years ago, this talented movie star penned a deal with a digital TV platform, StarTimes as their ambassador, which was the beginning of many more endorsements as appreciation for his talents. However, the actor still thought it wise to expand beyond the industry that blew him up.
In February 2016, Femi Adebayo was appointed the Special Adviser to the Governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatah Ahmed on Arts, Culture and Tourism. The end of that tenure will not end his political ambitions as the actor is presently contesting for the post of Senator in the upcoming 2023 elections. Femi has come out to declare his interest in representing Asa/Ilorin West at the Nigerian National Assembly delegation from his state.
2. Ini Edo:
Born on the 19th of April 1982 in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Ini Edo is a Nollywood legend who grew up in Calabar, Cross River State. She is the second child in a family of four children who currently has a career in the Nigerian movie industry, modelling, and she is a TV personality as well.
Her mother was a teacher and her father was a church elder, but Ini Edo took the Nollywood path because it has always been her dream to act before cameras despite her strict upbringing by her parents. After her primary school education, Ini Edo attended Cornelius Connely College in Calabar for her secondary school education. When she was done with secondary school, Ini Edo went to the University of Uyo and graduated with a National Diploma in Theatre Arts. When that was done, the movie star attended the University of Calabar and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in English.
In 2000, Ini Edo joined the Nollywood industry fully and in 2004, she became a household name in the popular movie titled, “World Apart,” acting alongside Kenneth Okonkwo and Lis Benson. Other films she has acted in since her success include “Thick Madam,” “Royal Gift,” “Blind Kingdom,” “Ghetto Queen,” “Power of Beauty,” and so on.
As far as politics is concerned, Ini Edo was appointed as the Special Assistant to the Akwa Ibom State Governor on culture and tourism in 2016. Excelling in her role, her appointment was renewed by Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel in 2020 when he was re-elected into office.
3. Banky W:
This popular Nollywood actor is also a Nigerian-American singer, rapper and entrepreneur. He was born in the United States on the 27th of March, 1981 to Nigerian parents, but his family came back to Nigeria when he was five years old.
Banky went to a Lagos school for his primary and secondary education before returning to the USA for his tertiary education at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New York, US on a scholarship. He then launched a record label Empire Mates Entertainment (E.M.E) in 2002 while he was still in school, eventually leaving the USA for Nigeria again to fully establish the music outfit in Lagos, signing musicians like Niyola, Shaydee, Skales and Wizkid to kickstart their collective reign in the Nigerian music industry.
His Nollywood journey began when EbonyLife Films announced that he would feature alongside a star-studded cast that included Alibaba, Sola Sobowale, Ireti Doyle, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Zainab Balogun, AY, Ikechukwu, Beverly Naya, Emma OhMaGod, Lepacious Bose, for the comedy movie titled “Wedding Party.”
The film’s story is centred around Dunni Coker (Adesua Etomi), a 24-year-old art gallery owner who is about to marry the love of her life, Dozie (Banky W). Things eventually took an unexpected turn when both families met at the wedding ceremony.
Banky W, popular for being a singer was particularly praised for his performance in the movie and since then he embraced the Nollywood industry and even married a Nollywood queen, Adesua Etomi, to prove that his bond with the movie industry is forever.
His career switch did not stop at acting though, Banky W is taking politics seriously nowadays. The musician declared his intention to run for the Lagos’ Eti-Osa Federal Constituency seat in Nigeria’s House of Representatives, on the platform of the Modern Democratic Party (MDP), in 2018. However, on the 23rd of February, 2019, he lost the Eti-Osa Federal Constituency elections to Babajide Obanikoro of the All Progressive Congress (APC). He hasn’t given up on that dream though as the actor is set to contest again.
4. Zubby Michael:
This popular movie star is a Nigerian film actor and movie producer and he was born on the 1st of February 1985. Zubby was born in Ekwusigo Local Government Area in Anambra State but he grew up in Adamawa where he completed his elementary education.
The actor attended Nnamdi Azikiwe University where he obtained a degree in Mass Communication and his interest in Nollywood began. He began to act professionally when he featured in the movie titled “Missing Rib,” but his stardom was not noticed until he starred in a lead role in popular film titled “Three Windows.” Zubby has flaunted his acting talents in several other movies since then, and he is currently one of the most respected Nollywood faces ever.
Zubby is another man of many talents, and he proved it when his political career kickstarted in 2019. The actor was appointed by Willie Obiano as the Special Adviser on Media to the Governor in the same year and was even awarded a certificate of recognition for his contribution to the City Radio 89.7 FM youth empowerment initiative in Anambra State.
5. Desmond Elliot:
Desmond Elliot is a famous actor and director in the Nollywood industry and he is known to be one of the pioneers of the Nigerian movie industry. He was born to a Yoruba dad from Olowogbowo in Lagos Island, Lagos, while his mum was from Illah in Oshimili North, Delta State.
He had his primary education at Air Force Primary School before heading to St John’s College, both in Jos for his secondary education. Desmond Elliot eventually wrapped up schooling by studying Economics at Lagos State University, and he graduated in 2003.
According to him, he was actually influenced by a friend to take up acting as a career, and this led him to feature in popular soap operas like “Everyday People,” “One Too Much and Saints,” and “Saints and Sinners,” back in the day. Fast forward to now, Desmond has featured in more than 200 films, including top projects like “Men Who Cheat,” “Yahoo Millionaire,” and “Atlanta.” His performances on the screen over the years have been exemplary enough to earn him top awards including “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” at the African Movie Academy Award in 2006.
Spreading his wings and proving that he is not restricted to acting alone, politics picked Desmond’s attention, which led him to declare his intentions to run for Lagos State House of Assembly under the All Progressives Congress in September 2014. He eventually contested and won the Surulere Constituency in the 11 April 2015 Nigerian General Elections, marking the start to his political career.
However, in October 2020, during the End SARS protest, Desmond was severely blasted by Nigerians for allegedly supporting the Anti-Social Media Bill in Nigeria, an allegation he earlier denied when the news first broke online. Evidence came out weeks later and the actor was seen passionately criticizing social media users and influencers, saying if the country does not end all social media platforms once and for all, it will eventually destroy the nation.
Desmond felt compelled to apologize for his actions days later, and he pleaded with the populace to forgive him for allowing his emotions to get the better of his reasoning. He also urged citizens to ensure that, henceforth, all Nigerians try to engage constructively on the issues that affect all of us, while vowing to do the same.
The Nollywood legend is presently seeking a third term as State Legislator representing Surulere Constituency 1. However, despite the fact that his nomination by the party (APC) during his past two terms in office came unopposed, he is currently faced with a notable figure in the person of Honourable Barakat Bakare Akande, and they are both vying for the party’s ticket right about now.