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Screen Power: Nigerian Female Movie Makers and Actors, their Influences, Net Worth

Funke Akindele

By Patience Chat Moses

In Nigeria’s vast and bustling film landscape, a new wave of female filmmakers, producers, and directors is reshaping the ecosystem. These visionary women, often dubbed “Game shakers,” are not only breaking barriers but also inspiring a new generation of storytellers. From tackling societal issues to pushing artistic boundaries, these female Game shakers are leaving an indelible mark on the industry.

One of these trailblazers is Mo Abudu. Recognized by Forbes as one of the most influential women in global media, she stands as an influential figure in Nollywood. Her journey involves spearheading Ebony Life TV since its inception in 2006, establishing her as a prominent figure in the entertainment industry.

Under Abudu’s leadership, Ebony Life TV has expanded its reach to over 49 countries across Africa, the UK and the Caribbean. The network has become a significant player, fostering global partnerships that enhance its influence in the media landscape. Notably, Ebony Life TV has secured major collaboration deals with industry giants such as Sony Pictures Television, AMC Networks, and Netflix.

The groundbreaking agreement with Netflix marked a historic milestone as the first time an African media company entered into a multi-title film and TV agreement with the streaming giant. Also, her latest partnership with Idris Elba and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), through its Creative Africa Nexus (Canex) to produce “Dream to Dust” has been a remarkable development. Her net worth is estimated at $650 million.

Another standout is Kemi Adetiba, a producer whose films have not only entertained but also sparked important conversations about gender equality and social justice. Through her work, she has become a voice for the voiceless, using the power of cinema to shine a light on pressing issues facing Nigerian society.  Adetiba is a Nigerian filmmaker, television director and music video director, whose works have appeared on Channel O, MTV Base, Soundcity TV, BET and Netflix. She started as a radio presenter for SilverBird’s Rhythm 93.7 FM. She was the voice behind the two national hit shows – Soul’d Out and Sunday at the Seaside.

She slowly moved from radio to television by presenting on TV. Afterwards, she moved to music and movie production. In 2016, she directed a film titled “The Wedding Party” which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) the same year.

The wedding party was a great achievement and broke box office records by raking in over N3.5 billion. Kemi  Adetiba is also the founder of a web documentary series; King Women. King Women mentors and inspires young women.

The popular political thriller, King of Boys which starred Sola Sobowale in the lead role was produced, written and directed by Kemi  Adetiba. Known as the Bruce Lee of visuals, Adetiba’s most recent TV series crime thriller ‘To Kill a Monkey’ is set to premiere on Netflix this 2024.  The legendary media personality, Kemi Adetiba is one of the most influential in Nigeria with an estimated net-worth of about $1,000,000, especially with a number of exceptional movies that have received enormous sales, and popularity not excluding several endorsement deals and businesses as well.

Next in line is Funke Akindele popularly known as Jenifa. She is a prominent Nigerian filmmaker, actress, director, producer, and politician. Born on August 24, 1977, Akindele gained widespread acclaim for her role in the sitcom ‘I Need to Know’ (1998–2002). In 2009, her outstanding performance in ‘Jenifa’ earned her the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

The character, ‘Jenifa’ became a cultural phenomenon, leading to a 2015 television series adaptation titled ‘Jenifa’s Diary’, produced by Akindele. Her performance in the series earned her consecutive wins for Best Actress in a Comedy at the Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards in 2016 and 2017, with additional victories in 2020 and 2022.

Beyond acting, she made history as the first Nigerian female director to surpass a billion naira at the Nigerian box office with ‘A Tribe Called Judah’ (N1.4 billion) which became the highest-grossing movie of 2023 in cinemas. Funke Akindele has maintained a three-year sequence of top-grossing films in Nigeria. Her movie, ‘Omo Ghetto the Saga’ had a total gross of N636 million in 2020, while her 2022 film,’ Battle on Buka Street’ grossed N668 million.

Funke Akindele a director known for her bold storytelling and unique visual style. With films like ‘Jenifa’s Diary’, ‘Omo Ghetto’, ‘Battle in Buka Street’ and her most recent blockbuster ‘A Tribe Called Judah’, she has garnered critical acclaim and international recognition, showcasing the depth of talent within Nollywood.  Akindele is the proud owner of Funke Akindele Network (FAFFN). She has an estimated net worth of about $7.6 million.

With nearly two decades immersed in acting and filmmaking, Mary Njoku has solidified her status as a powerhouse in the African movie industry. Since her debut in 2004, Njoku has graced the screens in over 100 films and TV series, predominantly within Nollywood the Nigerian movie industry, renowned as the world’s second-largest by production output.

 In the last decade, Njoku has seamlessly transitioned from on-screen roles to a behind-the-scenes executive, playing a major role in shaping the creation and distribution of African content tailored for the streaming age. In 2013, she took a bold step by founding ROK, a digital media company that operates four TV stations. Additionally, she established ROK Studios, a content production company catering to IrokoTV, a Nigerian streaming video-on-demand platform founded by her husband, Jason Njoku. She has an estimated net worth of $7.5 million.

Jadesola Osiberu stands as another remarkable figure in Nollywood, transitioning from a background in software development career to writing, directing, and movie production. As the founder of Greoh Studios, she gained traction after churning out pieces such as ‘Isoken’ (2017), ‘Sugar Rush’ (2019), ‘Brotherhood’ (2022), and the crime thriller ‘Gangs of Lagos’, the first Nigerian original film exclusively streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

 In September 2022, Osiberu’s Greoh Studios inked a transformative three-year deal with Amazon, signaling a commitment to develop and produce original scripted TV series and feature films for a global audience. This collaboration positions her production house as a key player in shaping the narrative on a broader scale.  Osiberu initiated her venture into film production with the establishment of Tribe85 Productions in 2017, fueled by the mission to “tell African stories to a global audience”. She has an estimated net worth of about $4 million.

These female Game shakers and many more are not only excelling behind the camera but also in front of it. Actresses like Ruth Kadiri and Genevieve Nnaji are redefining the portrayal of women in Nigerian cinema, taking on complex roles and bringing them to life with authenticity and depth.

As the Nigerian film industry continues to grow and evolve, it is clear that these female Game shakers will play a crucial role in shaping its future. Through their creativity, passion, and determination, they are not only making great films but also paving the way for the next generation of storytellers. In a male-dominated industry, these female Game shakers are proving that women have a vital role to play in shaping the narrative of Nigerian cinema. Their work is not only inspiring but also empowering, showing that with talent and perseverance, anything is possible.