Rachael Okonkwo, whose full name is Nnenna Rachael Okonkwo, is a Nigerian actress, model, dancer and celebrity.
She became popular after she put up a memorable performance in the film, Nkoli Nwa Nsukka. The name stuck to her as she becomes widely known by the name of her character- Nkoli – in the film and thereby joining the list of illustrious Nollywood actors who have lost their name to their screen names.
The story of Rachael Okonkwo is a fascinating one and we give you details that you should know about this talented and beautiful actress.
10 facts you should know about Rachael Okonkwo aka Nkoli
- Rachael Okonkwo’s full name is Nnenna Rachael Okonkwo
- Nnena Rachael Okonkwo is not from Nsukka but from Ukpata, a town in Uzo Uwani Local government area, Enugu State. She grew up in Nsukka, Enugu State.
- Rachael Okonkwo lost her father when she was only 13 years old and hawked as a child to support her mom’s income
- Rachael had briefly been a dancer in the music industry before going back to Nollywood.
- Rachael Nnenna Okonkwo is 32 years as of her 2019 birthday.
- Before acting in Nkoli Nwa Nsukka, she had played minor roles in Royal War 2 and Open and Close 1 & 2.
- Rachael had been nominated for three Nollywood awards but have not won any.
- She attended the popular University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
- Nnenna Okonkwo also hosts an annual Easter Carnival in the South-east and also give children free gifts.
- She is allegedly worth $400,000.
Rachael Okonkwo Biography: Early life
Nnenna Rachael Okonkwo was born on 26th May 1987. She is 32 years old now and was born to Igbo parents in Ukpata, a town in Uzo Uwani Local government area, Enugu State. The family has likely lived for decades in Nsukka where Rachael completed both her primary and secondary school education.
After passing her West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), Rachael Okonkwo attended the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State. Prior to becoming famous in Nollywood, Rachael Okonkwo had been a child actress. Acting has always been her foremost passion.
She initially joined Nollywood in 2005 and appeared in seven movies. However, due to lack of film roles, she switched to dancing for gospel musicians. There are also some sources that claimed that she also experimented with singing but we cannot confirm that. Eventually, in 2007, Rachael returned to her first love, acting in the Nollywood film industry. Rachael Okonkwo is also a registered member of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Enugu chapter.
Rachael Okonkwo’s parents
Many are not aware that the sensational actress of Nkoli Nwa Nsukka lost her father at the tender age of 13. In an interview with Tracknewsng, she disclosed that she had always been with her mom after her dad died. She had hawed groundnuts as a child and had to do some other menial jobs to supplement her family’s income.
Rachael Okonkwo Siblings
We found no evidence of Rachael Okonkwo having siblings and conclude that she may have been an only child but do not claim to be wholly certain on that score. It may well be that the actress and her family members have chosen to keep their existence away from the public eyes.
Is Rachael Okonkwo related to Kenneth Okonkwo, aka Andy Okeke?
Many think that Kenneth Okonkwo (another popular Nollywood actor) is related to Rachael Okonkwo, but that is not correct even though both actors are from the same state, Enugu State. Kenneth and Rachael are not related, they only share common last names. This is a popular phenomenon as first names and surnames can also be shared without meaning blood ties or relationships.
Meanwhile, Kenneth has two sisters and they are both lawyers. Their names are Anita and Princess, he frequently posts pictures of them online.
Rachael Okonkwo Biography: Nollywood acting career
On returning to the Nollywood industry after her stint as a dancer in gospel music videos, Rachael Okonkwo settled for some very minor roles that were just a bit more than cameos. It seemed that she had understood that the way to grow was from the ground up. After some time, precisely, in 2008, she started to appear in supporting roles with well-known actresses and actors.
One of her most notable appearances that year (2008) was when she acted in the sequel movie, Royal War 2. Rachael had played a minor role in the movie that was dominated by then big stars like Ini Edo and Van Vicker.
It took another two years before Rachal Okonkkwo was cast in another notable movie. This time, she appeared on the set of Open and Close 1 & 2 in 2010. Again, she was relegated to the background as Patience Ozokwor and John Okafor took centre stage.
She again went back into the shadows, but the next time she emerged, it was as a shining star.
Rachael Okonkwo’s breakthrough in Nkoli Nwa Nsukka
In 2014, four years after her last significant role in Open and Close 1 & 2, Rachael Okonkwo hit a jackpot with her first lead role in Nkoli Nwa Nsukka, an inept and goofy girl from Nsukka in Enugu State. The character proved to be a breakout role for her career. Cast as the lead character, Nkoli, in the movie, Rachael Okonkwo struck chords in the hearts of viewers as they could easily connect with the story.
But the story of Nkoli Nwa Nsukka was not the only thing that gave the movie its fame. Rachael Okonkwo put up a brilliant display of acting ability and showcased the range of her talent. So fantastic was her role-acting that viewers still have a hard time differentiating her real person from the comical film character. it is notable that the film was the first comedy character the actress appeared on. According to her, the role was challenging but she got a lot of help with the film director on the set.
Maccollins Chidebe directed Nkoli Nwa Nsukka. Although the movie was an Igbo language movie subtitled in English it reached more than the native Igbo speaking people. Rachael’s role in the drama was her major pivotal moment. From there she moved on to greater things in her Nollywood career.
Rachael Okonkwo recent forays in Nollywood
Following the success of Nkoli Nwa Nsukka, Rachael Okonkwo, now popularly called Nkoli, appeared in a series of spinoffs of the original film. She has also played major roles in many Nollywood movies and gained relevance in the Nollywood film industry over the years. This is manifest in the fact that she gets to play major roles in films that also star veteran actors and actresses.
Furthermore, Rachael Okonkwo recently made her official debut in the Yoruba movie industry in Desmond Elliot’s Survival of Jelili a sequel to Femi Adebayo’s popular film, Jelili. The film also stars the likes of Toyin Abraham, Dele Odule, Seyilaw, Gbenga Adeyinka, Woli Agba, Arole, Adebayo Salami, Aisha Lawal, Razak Olayiwola, Bolanle Ninalowo and others. The film was released in the cinemas earlier this month on the 6th of December 2019.
In the concluding part of this article, check out a list of notable movies Rachael Okonkwo aka Nkoli acted in.
Rachael Okonkwo other business initiatives
In addition to her acting job, Rachael Okonkwo is also into the real estate business. She has said several times in different interviews that she buys and sells real estate.
Rachael Okonkwo Biography: Philanthropic activities
Nnenna Rachael Okonkwo is not always about appearing or conducting other business endeavours, she has also designed a way to help the needy and give back to the community. This brought about the idea of an annual Children’s Easter Carnival, which she organises and hosts. It has been running since 2015 when the first edition took place in Enugu.
Rachael Okonkwo, aka Nkoli, uses the opportunity that the Easter festival period presents to host the carnival. She gives gifts to children and entertains people for free along with some other celebrities. Rachael says she also uses the opportunity to get to know some of her fans who turned up at the events.
Since its inception, the carnival gets bigger with each event surpassing the previous one. In 2016, Rachael brought a fellow Nollywood actor, Ken Erics, to the second edition of her event held at Onitsha. Other celebrities have also been known to attend the carnivals. In 2017, she held the carnival in Nsukka and brought people like Angela Okorie, Nonso Diobi, Slowdog, Ken Erics, Nani Boi and Eve Esin.
Many top brands have partnered with the actress to make her annual carnivals huge successes. In the 2017 edition, over 5,000 people allegedly came to the event.
In an interview with Tribue, the actress said they expected more than 20,000 children to benefit from their 2018 Easter Carnival event.
Rachael Okonkwo Biography: Is Rachael Okonkwo married?
Popular Nigerian actress, Rachael Okonkwo popularly called Nkoli, is not married and as far as we know is single. However, she has spoken out several times that she has thoughts of getting married although she maintains that she will not let marriage stop her career. Rachael says that she is sure that she can balance both marriage and her acting career and will not sacrifice her acting career for the sake of marriage.
In March 2018, the actress shared a photo of her wearing a ring on her engagement finger, leading to the public’s surmise that she had gotten engaged especially given the caption of the photo. “Someone said yes last night,” the caption read. Since then, however, no other word of the supposed engagement had been heard and so far, no wedding bells had rung to the best of our knowledge.
However, in an interview with Information Nigeria published in September 2018, the actress disclosed that she was in a serious relationship. However, she did not identify the person. In the same interview, Rachael also said that she had once been heartbroken in the past by an unnamed man who loved another girl.
So far, there is no known public evidence that Rachael Okonkwo has married although she may be in a relationship.
Are Rachael Okonkwo and Ken Erics in a relationship?
Rachael Okonkwo and Ken Erics have both been in a long-term professional relationship and seem to be good friends. As we mentioned already, Ken Erics attended Rachael Okonkwo’s carnivals and both were often seen together on and off movie sets. This led to rumours about them dating. Also, Rachael once said that she can marry an actor like herself.
However, on 28 December 2017, Ken Erics got married to one Onyi Adada, an event that took place in Enugu. That should have put the rumours of Rachael and Ken Erics being in a relationship to rest but unfortunately, it did not. Some people continue to speculate that the two were dating each other. Then in September this year (2019), Ken Erics’ marriage seemingly crashed after his wife Onyi posted on social media that he had abandoned their marital home for unknown reasons. Some on social media were quick to accuse Rachael Okonkwo as the cause of the breakdown of the marriage as they accused her of having cheated with Ken Erics. Rachael Okonkwo vehemently denied the accusations. (See the controversy section for additional details)
So, despite the rumours, Rachael Okonkwo and Ken Erics have not dated much less married at any time. That is what both actors have said at various times and we have no reason to believe the contrary.
Rachael Okonkwo Biography: Controversies
In October 2015, there were stories going around that Rachael Okonkwo and Queen Nwokoye were fighting over a movie role. The issue came just after her major entrance into the Nollywood scene. An unnamed director had tried to get Queen to play a supporting role in a movie where he would also cast Rachael Okonkwo as the lead.
Queen Nwokoye allegedly walked onto the set and openly told the director that she will not play a supporting role to an actress she saw as a junior. In a bid to resolve the case, the director reversed the roles. Rachael however, also reportedly left the movie set upon hearing the resolution.
Recently, in September 2019, Rachael Okonkwo was accused of being behind the troubles Ken Erics and his wife, Onyi Adada were facing in their marriage. Also, some went as far as saying they were having an affair, an issue we briefly touched on in the preceding section.
Rachael, however, quickly cleared the air and her name. The actress said that there was nothing going on between them. She also said that she was not responsible for the problem they were facing. Lastly, she prayed that the couple would resolve their issues and get back on good terms.
“Good day lovers, I’d love to bring to the public that myself and Ken Erics (Keene baby as I fondly call him), never had an affair, ken and I have been friends for years, we have a good working relationship and that’s it. I feel bad about his present marital issues and I pray God gives them the wisdom to handle their issues. For all the people cursing and abusing me for crashing his home, may your curses be my portion if I had anything to do with him sexually in this life.”
Ken Erics also reacted to the rumours, writing on Instagram:
“I don’t want to talk about this at all. People should believe what they want to believe. Lies don’t last. The truth will come out pretty soon. Roping me with Rachel Okonkwo is another stupid thing to do. It doesn’t make sense at all. That’s the height of naivety. I’ll clear my name from all this rubbish but not now. I’d do that at my convenient time. I know the internet never forgets that’s why I would clear the air at my convenient. Let me give this some time to die down. It won’t take more than one week. The dust it raised will settle.”
Rachael Okonkwo Biography: What is Rachael Okonkwo’s net worth?
Rachael Okonkwo reportedly worth $400,000 although we do not know how the figure was arrived at. So, we advise to take it with a grain or two of salt. However, the actress is also an influencer with some notable companies and has landed endorsement deals with companies such as Ralpha Juice (2016), Paint Roxettes (2018) and Dano Milk (2019). Rachael Okonkwo is also a model. Furthermore, the actress is also into property buying and selling. However, her earnings are not publicly published and we cannot say with anything certainty how much she is worth.
Final thoughts …
Nnenna Rachael Okonkwo aka Nkoli has come a long way from the humble beginnings of her career. She rose from playing very small roles to playing central roles. The diverse actress, popular for her range of skills for interpreting different characters, also has a philanthropic side as we have discussed. Despite being single, she is rarely immersed in controversies that are characteristic of celebrities.
Rachael Okonkwo is an inspiration to young people out there. Hard work combined with talent gives the best result. Despite losing her father early in life, she continued to work towards attaining her goal of becoming an actress. She may have wavered and briefly stopped acting but she came back to her passion and pursued it with all her might. We wish this multi-talented actress all the best in her career.
List of Rachael Okonkwo’s movies
- The Ghost and the Tout (2019)
- Nimbe (2019)
- Teri Teri (2017)
- Arthur One Eye (2017)
- Onwa Na South (2017)
- Left Over (2017)
- Zee World Madness (2017)
- University Girls (2016)
- Vale of Tears (2016)
- Not My Child (2016)
- Ojawa-Nwa (2016)
- Justify My Love (2015)
- Eno my Calabar love (2015)
- Ijele the princess of fire (2015)
- Local Prostitute (2015)
- Please leave my husband (2015)
- Tears Of Betrayal (2015)
- The Gods Anger (2015)
- Ogidi (2015)
- Bloody War (2014)
- Paw Paw the guitar boy (2014)
- Nkoli Nwa Nsukka (2014)
- Sister Esther Loveth (2013)
- Open & Close (2010)
- Royal War 2 (2008)
List of Rachael Okonkwo’s award nominations
- City People Entertainment Awards (2016). Best Supporting Actress (nominated)
- Karis Media Awards (2015). Best Comic Actress of the Year (nominated)
- City People Entertainment Awards (2015). Best Supporting Actress of the year (English) (nominated )