In the May edition of the exciting Nolly Silver Screen magazine, Wilfred Okiche profiles 10 Nollywood Actors Who Have Crossed Over from English movies to other languages.
When you think Nollywood, the first thing that comes to mind is the English-speaking Nigerian stars and the films that they appear in. However, a lot of them have proved themselves versatile and proficient in languages and interpreting roles that demand for more ethnic input. These 10 stars have made the leap from English films to those in the indigenous languages and back again.
Time was when Liz Benson was queen of Nollywood and what a reign she enjoyed. No one could match her in terms of star power and this translated easily into film roles in all genres. She had the country under her spell and we were pleasantly surprised (and rewarded) when
she made her Yoruba speaking debut in Tunde Bamishigbin’s Eeku Ida. She followed this appearance up in 2007 with another fine outing in Toko Taya.
Owoh is an Africa Movie Academy Award winner for Best Actor but is best known for his comic character Osuofia which he has parlayed into multiple successful films. He stays true to his roots, appearing in Igbo films like Ofor na Ogu and Ode-Eshi and switching them up with crossover appearances in films like Wisdom of Thomas and Stronger Than Pain.
Ms. Henshaw is one of Nollywood’s enduring leading ladies and has been in the game for 20 years now. A Best Actress Africa Movie Academy Award winner (AMAA) in 2008 for the film- Stronger Than Pain, Henshaw made the leap to the Yoruba film divide in 2011 as lead actress in Saheed Balogun’s Eti Keta and impressed many with her
delivery of her few Yoruba lines.
Ime Bishop Umoh
Umoh is a comic actor who has found success in movies produced by Emem Isong and her Royal Arts Academy. He has appeared in indigenous films like Uyai, Udeme Mi and Edikan where he has spoken in his native Ibibio tongue. He has also starred in English films like In the Cupboard and Weekend Getaway.
Most of the countr y was introduced to Yomi Fash Lanso after his break out role as a gold digging hustler who makes good in Wale Adenuga’s iconic television series Super Story. Following this success, he has appeared in countless Yoruba films including Jenifa and Omolade and does the occasional work in English speaking films.
The recently pregnant Mrs. Rodriguez achieved fame and success as a scriptwriter and actress in films like Adure. She later moved to producing movies and set up her own production studios – Uche Jombo Studios. In 2011, she appeared in the Yoruba title Dewunmi Iberu produced by Dayo
Kenneth Okonkwo became the first modern Nollywood leading man after his pioneering performance in the Kenneth Nnebue groundbreaker Living in Bondage. Speaking mostly in Igbo, Okonkwo followed that appearance in films like Betrayal but soon made the transition to English speaking movies. Of recent, he has appeared alongside
Mercy Johnson in the award winning comedyDumebi the Dirty Girl.
Omosexy may reign supreme as one of Africa’s finest now but it is important to note that she has been able to successfully combine working in both English and Yoruba films. Her versatility has even had her mumble a few Igbo words in some of her English films set in the East. She has appeared alongside Tony Umez and Shola Shobowale in films like Kosorogun and Oyato.
The queen of crossover, Funke Akindele started her career in television as lead in the United Nations Population Fund sponsored programme I Need To Know. After finding it difficult getting work in the English films, she crossed over to the Yoruba sector and soon became a top actress/producer. Her 2009 film Jenifa became wildly successful and its follow up Return of Jenifa was even more commercially successful.
The Nollywood lover boy most famous for his roles in English speaking films was looking for a change of pace role when actress cum producer Dayo Amusa offered him the lead in her film Unforgivable released in 2013. His performance had only a few lines of Yoruba but it was considered good enough to win him the Best Yoruba Actor trophy at the Best of Nollywood awards.
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