There are some Nollywood actors and actresses whose real names might not ring a bell even if shouted with a microphone in an overcrowded market.
However, mention the monikers they got from one of their movie roles and everyone suddenly knows who they are. That was usually the case when the actor or actress was so good in the character of the role they played that the audience had a problem differentiating the actor from the character. What happens is that the actor ends up with the name of the character. In fact, in some cases, spinoffs based on the Nollywood actors’ characters are produced.
In this article, we identify some of the Nollywood actors who fall under this category, those actors that have lost their real names to their screen characters.
S0 here we go popular Nollywood actors and stars whose monikers are more popular than their real names.
1. Nkem Owoh (Osuofia)
Nkem Owoh is one of the oldest actors in the Nigerian movie industry. He had his first major break into the industry when he featured in the screen adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart that was broadcasted on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) network in the late 80s. He has since been featured in over 200 Nollywood productions. He got his moniker Osuofia from one of his earlier Nollywood films, where he played the character of a village drunkard named Osuofia. The name stuck to him and now he is known more widely as Osuofia than by his real name, Nkem Owoh. Naturally, he had the lead role in the popular Nollywood film Osuofia in London, a blockbuster that received global acclaim when it was released in 2003 and that cemented his status as a Nollywood star.
2. Chinedu Ikedieze & Osita Iheme (Aki & Pawpaw)
This duo are grown-up men with the stature and voice texture of boys. Aki whose real name is Chinedu Ikedieze is currently 41 years old, while Pawapaw, real name Osita Iheme, is 37 years old but either of them could pass for under 15.
They had their major break into the Nigerian film industry when they acted as Aki and Pawpaw in the movie Aki na Ukwa, a 2007 rib-cracking hit. Since then, the names have been pegged on both of them.
3. Funke Akindele (Jenifa)
Funke Akindele is one of the most notable figures in Nollywood as an actress. She is also a playwright and a film producer. Though she had broken into Nollywood after she starred as Bisi in the popular teen TV series, I Need To Know, which aired from the late 1990s to early 2000s as well as been in many movies, her major break came after she starred as Jenifa in a film of the name. The film, released in 2008 was an award-winning blockbuster that catapulted her into massive fame and eventual wealth. Funke was so into the character in the film, that the moniker, Jenifa got stamped on her. A sequel of the film was also released in 2011 with Funke Akindele reprising her role. In 2014, the character was turned into a tv series, boasting of 17 seasons so far and counting.
4. John Okafor (Mr Ibu)
John Okafor is, no doubt, one of the most talented comic actors in the Nigerian film industry. When you see John Okafor in a movie, what naturally comes to mind is an imbecile who knows how to make people laugh with every single move he makes, even without opening his mouth sometimes. According to the actor, Ibu has always been his nickname since childhood and he started using the name in Nollywood movies. He was shot to limelight in 2004 through his role in the highly acclaimed movie Mr Ibu (2004) and since then, his moniker has become a household name among Nigerian movie lovers. The film has also spun off at least two other films including Mr Ibu in London (2004) and Ibu in Prison (2006).
5. Rachael Okonkwo (Nkoli Nwa Nsukka)
Rachael Okonkwo is a Nollywood actress, singer and philanthropist. She joined Nollywood in 2007 when she became a member of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, Enugu Chapter. She rose to fame in 2014 after playing the lead role in the Nollywood blockbuster Nkoli Nwa Nsukka, a hit Igbo movie that threw her into the limelight. She got her moniker from the movie.
6. Funlola Aofiyebi Raimi (Kofoworola Baker)
An accomplished actress, TV/radio OAP, compere and entrepreneur. She is one of the most popular faces on the big screens of Nollywood for over a decade. She got the name Kofoworola Baker pegged on her after playing the cool role as Chief Baker’s daughter in the TV soap, Palace.
7. Kenneth Okonkwo (Andy Okeke)
Kenneth Okonkwo is one of the pioneers of Nollywood (the modern Nigerian film industry). He rose to limelight after starring as Andy Okeke in the movie Living in Bondage, a 1992 blockbuster that ushered in Nollywood. Since then, the moniker Andy Okeke has been pegged on him. The film recently has a sequel with Kenneth Okonkwo reprising his role as Andy. The sequel is titled Living In Bondage: Breaking Free and was released on 8th November 2019 to great acclaim. Read our review of Living In Bondage: Breaking Free.
Kenneth Okonkwo is also a lawyer.
8. Tajudeen Oyewole (Abija)
Tajudeen Oyewole’s fame cuts across local and international borders as the jazz man, who usually defends the oppressed, fighting against witches, wizards, the wicked and negative spirits or forces in epic Yoruba movies. He is one of the most popular figures in the epic Yoruba movies genre. He broke into limelight after starring as Abija in the TV series Opa Aje and the name simply became his trademark since then. Most people don’t even know that’s not his real name.
9. Toyin Afolayan (Lola Idije)
After playing the role of the wanton lady referred to as Lola Idije in one of Alade Aromire movies, the moniker, Lola Idije, was gummed on her. She has remained relevant in the industry since she broke into limelight in the early 1990s when she starred in Deadly Affair. Acting is surely a family thing for the Afolayan’s. Her late brother Adeyemi Afolayan aka Ade Love was a powerful force in the Nigerian movie industry as an actor and filmmaker before he passed away in 1996. Today, four of his children are among the most respected actors and filmmakers in Nollywood. They are Kunke Afolayan, Gabriel Afolayan, Aremu Afolayan and Mini Afolayan.
10. Ojo Arowosafe (Fadeyi Oloro)
Ojo Arowosafe became popular in Jimoh Aliu’s epic TV production Yanpon Yanrin that was widely popular in the late 1980s/early 1990s. He played the role of a wicked jazz man – the villain known as Fadeyi Oloro – in that film Since then, he has been known as Fadeyi by his fans and critics.
11. Folake Onisola (Orisabunmi)
Folake Onisola is one of the most-sought after Nigerian actresses that dominated the Yoruba movies back in the 80s. Like Abija, the character she acted, Orisabunmi, was also known for fighting against the negative forces in the movie defending the oppressed. She also starred in and got her trademark from Yanpon Yanrin and the same set of Jimoh Aliu’s TV series that shot Fadeyi Oloro into the limelight.
12. Ann Njemanze (Domitila)
Ann Njemanze became a household name after she starred as the lead actress in Domitila, a 1996 blockbuster. Domitila, the character she played in the movie, was instantly gummed to her as a moniker.
13. Toyin Adegbola (Asewo To Re Mecca)
Toyin Adegbola is one of the popular Nigeria actors movies that have been around for very long. She started acting in the early 80s. She got her moniker Asewo To Re Mecca (the prostitute that went to Mecca for hajj) after playing the lead role in the movie Asewo To Re Mecca in 1992 and the name had since been pinned to her by many.
14. Susan Patrick (Sakobi)
Susan Patrick got the moniker, Sakobi, stamped on her after the role she played as the snake girl in the Sakobi movie that was produced by Zeb Ejiro in the 1990s. With her gapped tooth, she used to be one of the top Nollywood actresses whose faces dominated the Nigerian movie scenes in the 90s. Though she is no longer active in the Nollywood industry, it is most likely she would still have had the name Sakobi stamped on her several decades after the release of that movie because many people still refer to her as Sakobi.
15. Yemi Adeyemi (Suara)
After he played the role of Chief Suara, the honourable husband of Toyin Tomato in the Super Story series, Oh, Father! Oh, Daughter!, the name Suara was glued onto Yemi Adeyemi.
16. Basorge Tariah Jr. (Do Good)
Basorge Tariah got his moniker, Do Good, from the character he played alongside Kate Henshaw and others in Palace, one of the most popular Nigerian TV soaps of the 1990s. That is where the title of the multitalented actor, comedian and rapper’s TV series Do Good came from.
17. Ronke Odusanya (Flakky Ididowo)
Ronke Odusanya was given the moniker Flakky Ididiwo after the role she played in the same-titled movie by Fathia Balogun as Folake in 2006. Though she had started acting on Nollywood movies since 2001, her major break was ushered in by her role in that movie and the name has stuck to her since then.
18. Olaniyi Afonja (Sanyeri)
Since he moved to Lagos from Oyo state where he was an apprentice under the boss of a travelling theatre group and started taking on mini roles in Nollywood movies, the comedian worked his way from the backseat to become one of the best comedy actors in Nollywood, making his stage name, Sanyeri, very popular.
19. Ronke Ojo Anthony (Ronke Oshodi Oke)
Ronke Ojo got her moniker, Ronke Oshodi One, stamped on her after she starred in the movie Oshodi Oke in the early 2000s. She started her acting career with Star Parade, a Fadeyi Oloro led drama group and she has always been one of the regular faces in Nollywood movies since Oshodi Oke.
20. Hafiz Oyetoro (Saka)
Hafiz Oyetoro might not draw any glances when mentioned, but his moniker Saka, which has become a household name will surely draw the attention of many lovers of Nollywood movies and TV/Social media Ads. He is renowned for playing the clown in many Nollywood movies. He is also a lecturer at Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education in Lagos.
21. Kabirat Kafidipe (Araparegangan)
Kabirat Kafidipe is a Nollywood actress and writer who broke into the limelight when she starred in Tunde Kelani’s blockbuster Saworoide in 1999. She was cast as Araparegangan in the movie and that moniker was instantly pegged on her by fans and industry tastemakers.
22. Kunle Afolayan (Aresejabata)
In the same Saworoid movie that starred Kabirat Kafidipe as Araparegangan, Kunle Afolayan also starred as Aresejabata. And that name stuck with him for a long time until his massive rise to wealth and international recognition as a filmmaker pulled his real names to the front.
23. Razaq Olayiwola (Ojopagogo)
After playing the role of an aged man in a movie many years ago, Razaq Olayiwola did not just get his moniker Ojopagogo from that movie but he also got such role as an aged man reserved for himself in many Nollywood movies in the Yoruba genre.
24. Taiwo Hassan (Ojopagogo)
Taiwo Hassan is a veteran Nollywood actor and producer who broke into the limelight after his lead role in the highly successful movie Owo Blow, a Tunde Kelani film that was released in the late 90s. He also got his moniker, Ojopagogo, from a movie from way back. Though nobody seems to remember the title of the movie any longer, the moniker is here to stay forever on the minds of Yoruba movie lovers.
25. Babatunde Omidina (Baba Suwe)
Babatunde Omidina is one of the oldest comic actors in Nollywood but he did not exactly get the name from a movie or tv role. When asked in an interview by Punch’s Ige Tofarati Joy Marcus in 2018 about how he came up with his moniker, Baba Suwe, Babatunde Omidina replied:
“I was inspired by Baba Mero and other actors who added the prefix, Baba, to their names. I had a girlfriend then called Suwe; so, I decided to give myself the name, Baba Suwe, and it was well-received by my fans.”
The moniker became more popular when he played the role of father to Suwe, in the popular old school TV series Erinkeke.
26. Bolaji Amusan (Mr Latin)
Bolaji Amusan is one of the most popular Nollywood comic actors in the Yoruba movie genre. After playing the role as Mr Latin in a movie, Bolaji Amusan rose to become one of the most welcomed comic acts in Yoruba movies.
27. Adekola Tijani (Kamilu Kompo)
Often paired with Sanyeri (the tribal marked comedy actor, Olaniyi Afonja), Adesola Tijani, got his moniker from his self-produced movie, Kamilu Kompo, in which he played a comic role as a musician.
28. Fausat Balogun (Madam Saje)
Fausat Balogun has been in the Nigerian acting scene for over 40 years, long before the word Nollywood was coined to describe the industry. She got her name Madam Saje from the role she played on one of Baba Suwe’s flicks, a woman who acts as what she once described in an interview as an “iron lady“.
Summary list of Nollywood actors who have lost their real names to their screen characters
- Nkem Owoh (Osuofia)
- Chinedu Ikedieze & Osita Iheme (Aki & Pawpaw)
- Funke Akindele (Jenifa)
- John Okafor (Mr Ibu)
- Rachael Okonkwo (Nkoli Nwa Nsukka)
- Funlola Aofiyebi Raimi (Kofoworola Baker)
- Kenneth Okonkwo (Andy Okeke)
- Tajudeen Oyewole (Abija)
- Toyin Afolayan (Lola Idije)
- Ojo Arowosafe (Fadeyi Oloro)
- Folake Onisola (Orisabunmi)
- Ann Njemanze (Domitila)
- Toyin Adegbola (Asewo To Re Mecca)
- Susan Patrick (Sakobi)
- Yemi Adeyemi (Suara)
- Basorge Tariah Jr. (Do Good)
- Ronke Odusanya (Flakky Ididowo)
- Olaniyi Afonja (Sanyeri)
- Ronke Ojo Anthony (Ronke Oshodi Oke)
- Hafiz Oyetoro (Saka)
- Kabirat Kafidipe (Araparegangan)
- Kunle Afolayan (Aresejabata)
- Razaq Olayiwola (Ojopagogo)
- Taiwo Hassan (Ojopagogo)
- Babatunde Omidina (Baba Suwe)
- Bolaji Amusan (Mr Latin)
- Adekola Tijani (Kamilu Kompo)
- Fausat Balogun (Madam Saje)
So that is our list of some Nollywood actors who have lost their real names to their screen character.
Did we miss anyone? Let us know in the comment section and we shall include them in the list.
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