They were the delight of the Nigerian television screen, and household names in most homes. These icons gave Nigerians a feel of indigenous TV drama and movies, thereby creating a platform to what has become one of the biggest industries in Nigeria – the Nollywood. PATIENCE IVIE OBHAFUOSO in this report reminisces on some Nigerian actors and actresses whose impact in the entertainment industry will forever be evergreen.
Pete Edochie is considered one of Africa’s most talented actors. He was born on March 7, 1947, in Enugu, Eastern Nigeria. But his elementary and secondary education started in Zaria, in the northern part of the country.
He came into prominence in the 1980s when he played the lead role of Okonkwo in an NTA adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s all-time bestselling novel, Things Fall Apart.
He further studied Journalism and Television in School of Journalism and Television in England in the mid-1960s. Edochie later joined the Eastern Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation in 1967, and in 1980, he was trained formally by the BBC as a broadcaster.
In 1987, he was appointed a director in Eastern Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation, and he retired as a broadcaster in 1988 after which he moved into the movie industry.
The veteran has featured and starred in over 200 movies. His accomplishments have attracted numerous awards, national honours and Hall of Fame adoptions ever since.
He is still quite active in the Nigerian movie scene, but his attention is passionately focused on his current project, Tansi Canonisation Support Campaign, which is a movement for the canonisation of Blessed Michael Iwene Tansi.
Kasimu Yero, a prolific actor who has seen virtually every aspect of the industry, is a Zaria, Kaduna State-born actor, director and administrator.
He played the role of Uncle Gaga in the TV sitcom, Cockcrow at Dawn, aired on NTA network in the 1980s and has acted in several other films that were popular.
The prolific actor, Olu Jacobs, was born in 1942 in the western part of the country. He has starred in several British television series and international films. In 2007, Jacobs won the African Movie Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
Trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, England, he starred in various British television shows and series in the 1970s like The Goodies, Barlow at Large, The Venturers, Angels, 1990, The Tomorrow People, and The Professionals, among others. In the 1980s, Jacobs starred in several international films, some of which included John Irvin’s war film The Dogs of War, Roman Polanski’s adventure-comedy Pirates and the family-adventure film Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend. He has also starred in over 120 Nollywood films.
Moses Olaiya Adejumo (Baba Sala)
The history of the Nigerian film industry cannot be completely told without mentioning Baba Sala. He is one of the pioneer artists that first took drama from stage to cinema in the 80s with Orun Mo Oru and the rest.
He has also played big on radio, television as well as on stage. Baba Sala produced the movie, Aare Agbaye in 1983 and Mosebolatan in 1985.
One of Nollywood’s most high profile actor/comedian, Sam Loco Efe, was born in Enugu and grew up in Abakiliki. One of Sam Loco’s first forays into acting was producing William Shakespeare’s Julius Ceaser. He later played the role of Akara Ogun at the FESTAC 77.
The actor who was popularly known for his comic role in Nollywood movies died on Sunday, August 7, 2011 in Owerri, Imo State.
Born in 1957, Ene Oloja is a graduate of Theatre Arts from the University of Ibadan. Having started her acting career at the age of five with a nativity play and starring in the yearly school plays all through her early and teenage years, she was bent on pursuing a career so dear to her heart.
Her success and national recognition commenced in 1980 with the unprecedented production of Cock-Crow At Dawn, the first drama serial on Nigerian Network Television (NTA) of its kind that lasted eight years. She acted in other soap operas; produced and directed a number of made-for-television movies; scripted for TV drama serials and soaps; and represented Nigeria in several international festivals of television and theatre.
Ene won several national and international awards for her role in Cock-Crow At Dawn as an actress and script writer. She won awards for her directorial ventures, and blazed the trail for the blooming of Nollywood. She relocated to the United States in 1991 where she has resided since. In addition to quietly raising her pride and joy, her son St. Jermaine Ene and four others put together the thought provoking theatre production Echoes from the Diaspora in 1993, dealing with the immigration experiences of Black people from the Diaspora, staged in NYC and New Jersey.
Ene Oloja is a veteran actress both on stage and on film; a versatile media practitioner; brilliant and academically well accomplished. She is highly respected by her Nigerian fans and lovingly referred to as “The Doyen” and “Mother” of acting in Nigeria.
Zack Amata, popularly known as Uncle Zack, is one of the foremost Nollywood producers and directors. He is an actor, producer, scriptwriter, director and social engineer.
A graduate of the University of Ibadan, he is best known for his acting role in the NTA network soap opera, Behind The Clouds, where he played the role of a strict disciplinarian father, Mr. Okonzua (Baba Efe). Uncle Zack has acted in many television soap operas, like After The Storm, Shadows, Mary Slessor, and Behind the Clouds. He has also starred in many Nollywood films and movie productions.
In 1988, he won the award of the Best Male Actor, as well as the Best Over-All Actor Award at the Nigerian Festival of Television Programmes ( NIFETEP-88).
Faces That Adorned Nigerian Screen In The
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