The Nollywood movie scene held a lot of surprises this year, with many actors coming into prominence from being relatively unknown. Here is a list of 2017’s top ten actors on the basis of skill, major roles especially in an acclaimed movie on the big screen or TV show, and the diversity and delivery of such roles.
10. Kunle Idowu aka Frank Donga
This year can more or less be tagged the year of the Frank. Having featured in Elfike’s The Wedding Party in 2016, it appears Frank had doors flung open before him in 2017. He played lead in cinema films Mentally, Hakkunde and had supporting roles in Idahosa Trails and The Wedding Party: Destination Dubai. The actor, who is known for his sense of humor, explored characters that showed off his strength as an actor.
9. OC Ukeje
The actor, who has grown to prominence as one of Nollywood’s best since his Amstel Malta Box Office win in 2006, starred (and made the official soundtrack) in Shirley Frimpong-Mansoh’s internationally acclaimed film, Potato Potahto as lead character, Tony. He also starred in Walter ‘Waltbanger’ Taylaur’s film, Catch.er.
8. Ayoola Ayolola
One-time Project Fame winner, model, singer and actor Ayoola Ayolola fully explored his acting talent in 2017, and what we found had premium value. Taking big roles in Ndani TV’s Skinny Girl In Transit as Mide, Africa Magic telenovela Jemeji, as well as featuring on the big screen in Isoken, Ayoola has shown the world how multitalented and diverse he can be. The actor also features on TIERS web series, Everything In Between as gay human rights advocate, Demola.
7. Gabriel Afolayan
The year was sunny for Afolayan who not only featured in major telecoms advertisements, but also became a regular on the big screen in films like King Invincible (with martial art he brilliantly executed), Okafor’s Law, Something Wicked and Tatu, giving all round notable performances that are hard to ignore.
6. Enyinna Nwigwe
Nwigwe exudes great acting in his usually calm delivery. After showcasing his adaptability in 2016 Suru Lere in which he played a comic character, he stepped it up a notch in 2017 film, When Love Happens Again, where he reprised a role from its sequel as a talkative and paranoid pest, and in TIERS’ short film, Hell Or High Water where he played a gay Pastor trying to find himself, a role rather daring. He also played lead in Desmond Elliot’s Hire A Man, and Elfike’s The Wedding Party: Destination Dubai as Nonso Onwuka.
5. Sambasa Nzeribe
The movie Slow Country didn’t only highlight Nzeribe as being able to carry a film as lead and nail it, it also won the actor a Best Actor in a Drama Award in the 2017 AMVCAs. The actor went on to prove that the award wasn’t a fluke by featuring in cinema films, Tatu and My Wife and I in supporting roles.
4. Akah Nnani
This actor who is also a singer, television host and vlogger had many major moments on stage and screen in 2017, from playing an outstanding role as a hilarious police officer in BB Sasore’s Banana Island Ghost to being a sweet darling in Ebony Life TV Series, On The Real. He also had roles in Jade Osiberu’s Isoken, hosted Accelerate TV show ‘The Shade Corner”, and participated in the hilarious stage play Shift Lemme Faint alongside Najite Dede and Beverly Naya.
3. Tope Tedela
The actor starred in big screen movies King Invincible, Slow Country, animation film Dognapped, Ojukokoro and featured in Catch.er, What Lies Within (which he also coproduced), and Africa Magic’s Jemeji. Tedela showed versatility by taking on tasking and uncommon roles such as Taari in King Invincible where he alternates between human and beast, and Greg, a man with a facial deformity in The Happyness Ltd. His ability to not play these different roles the same earns him third place on this list.
2. Okey Uzoeshi
Uzoeshi was striking in his debut feature film as a producer, Something Wicked which he also starred in as Abel, a psychopath. He took on supporting roles in cinema films What Lies Within and faith-based film, Glimpse by Biodun Stephen Oladigbo. He is a feature on Africa Magic’s Battle Ground and TV series The Life Of a Nigerian Couple as Emeka.
1. Bolanle Ninalowo
The world came to a standstill at Ninalowo’s portrayal of Jobe in Tope Alake’s Picture Perfect. One of the most outstanding roles on the Nollywood big screen in years, Jobe has earned Ninalowo multiple nominations and awards, and the top spot on this list. Jobe is a character that might as well have its own spin off comedy drama series, thanks to Ninalowo’s remarkable portrayal.