Contemporary Nollywood gets fair criticism for not creating new stars. Who is the next Genevieve Nnaji, Omotola Jakiende or Richard Mofe-Damijo? The legendary Nnaji started her acting career as a child actor in the ’80s soap opera Ripples. Her experience on the show will lay the foundation for what is arguably the most successful career in Nollywood. Such a trajectory, child actor to veteran has been lacking in the industry since. However, in recent years there has been a slew of impressive Nollywood child actors with promising futures.
We take a look at these young actors punching above their weight in Nollywood—taking on challenging roles, delivering like experienced actors and competing with veterans for awards. We want you to know and familiarize yourself with them because you will be seeing their faces in more films.
Here are four Nollywood child actors who represent the future of Nollywood:
Mariam Kayode is known for playing the lead characters in three Imoh Umoren films, The Happy.ness limited, Children of Mud and soon-to-be-released The Coffins Salesman. She came into prominence when she became the youngest person to be nominated in the Best Actress category in the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Award (AMVCA) in 2018 for her performance in Children of Mud.
We spoke to Umoren on Mariam.
What he thinks of her: Mariam is an amazing actor and exemplary professional.
On her future: She will be one of the highest-rated actors of all time.
Angel Onyi Unigwe
At just 13, Angel Onyi Unigwe has appeared in over 30 films and series, including the popular Ajoche. In 2019, she starred alongside Rita Dominic and Joke Sylvia in Ekene Mekwunye’s Light in the Dark and is a scene-stealer amidst competent actors in the wildly hilarious Three Thieves. For her performance in Light in the Dark, Unigwe was nominated in the Promising Actor category in the 2019 Africa Movie Academy Award (AMAA). Unigwe is known for her bubbling, likable personality which she uses to entertain her over 12,000 followers on Instagram.
We spoke to Mekwunye on Angel.
What he thinks of her: She’s the best.
On her future: Her future is beyond Nollywood.
Halimat Olanrewaju may not have appeared in any feature film but her mature performance as Ese in Ifeoma Chukwuogo’s Bariga Sugar made her a star in the making. Writing for Pulse, Chidumga Izuzu described her performance as “stunning”. Olanrewaju also delivered the goods in Nadine Ibrahim’s short Tolu, and we can’t wait to see her in a feature film.
We spoke to Chukuwogo on Halimat:
What she thinks of her: I think she’s brilliant, especially considering that she’s never had any formal acting training or filming experience. Really talented girl.
On her Future: I can definitely see her becoming a star with the right roles and opportunities.
If you are a fan of Biodun Stephen, then you know Oluwaferanmi Oladigbo. She has starred alongside the likes of Mofe Duncan (Sobi’s Mystic), Kunle Remi and Ayobami Ayoola. Her best performance yet comes in Stephen’s Becoming of Obim, the film demanded more responsibilities from the young actress and she delivered. Nollywood Reinvented says her performance represents “a beacon of light that inspires hope for the future generation of Nollywood.”
We spoke to Stephen on Oluwaferanmi.
What she thinks of her: As an actress, I think she’s got what it takes. She’s a natural who needs some coaching and acting experience to sharpen her talents.
On her Future: I foresee her thriving in arts. She is a writer (currently working on her novel). She is also working on her blog and has an interest in editing and making videos.