“May I state here that these actresses on this list have been
judged onuniversal templates for acting and not on what I term
‘perceived popularity’on red carpets, social media or feisty fan clubs.
There is a clear difference
between being an overt socialite with tepid performances in afterthought
movies ‘just to be relevant’ and wholeheartedly taking the business of
And my Number One Actress would be Nse Ikpe Etim (maritally known as Nse
Sule). And why wouldn’t she be ? Having watched her in three movies
released in 2014, there was little one could fault in her powerful sense
of interpretation, internalization and ‘chameleonic’ characterization
in the movies ‘Devil in the detail’, ‘ I Come Lagos’ and ‘Purple Rose’.
To the trained eye, when an actress does her research, it is easy and quite a pleasure to watch
that thespian mesmerize the audience. Nse falls in that category of
silent but sure actresses whose works speak more for her than anything
else. In ‘Devil in the Detail’, she gives us a self-assured portrayal of
a wife whose fidelity is called to question by her suspicious husband.
Nse’s nuances, dramatic pauses and body language in the role leaves one
awe-struck. This is a lady who knows her onions.
Despite my reservations about the film adaptation of ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, one of the delightful comforts for me from the movie was Onyeka Onwenu’s fantastic role as
‘Mama’. With an elegant career in music which has spanned over thirty
years, Onyeka’s moonlighting to Nollywood seems to have finally found
its artistic rewards in HOAYS.
Her mannerisms, facial expressions, voice modulations and
characterization as an over-protective mother are all almost flawless in
the movie . It’s as if in HOAYS, she set out to prove a point and only
the blind would argue that she did not achieve her artistic aim. It
must be quite a fulfilling experience to straddle, and arguably
successfully too, two important sectors of Nigerian Entertainment; music
and movies. Onyeka Onwenu deserves our commendation. Well, at least she
Two movies which featured Omoni Oboli were enough to convince me that
Omoni deserves to be on this list. They are ‘Render to Ceaser’ and
‘Being Mrs Elliott’. Watching the
two movies, I could appreciate various levels of Omoni’s acting
abilities. Artistically, she come across sometimes as being restrained
in her delivery in some roles but she more than makes up for these
pardonable inhibitions by her powerful ability to really, really act
with her face. Her facial expressions reveal
the right emotions which her lines try to convey. Few actors can
achieve that in Nollywood as what we see mostly these days are bland
expressions in the delivery of interpretative dialogue.
But it is in ‘Being Mrs Elliott’ that Omoni comes out smoking. Her
character has various levels of emotional and perhaps repressed comical
transitions and Omoni delivers when it matters most in aspects of such
artistic requirement. A wardrobe malfunction at the Presidential Villa
during a special premiere and the buzz it created made me curious to watch
the movie and while aspects of its directorial ambitions were a bit
arrested, one was not disappointed much by Omoni’s acting in the movie.
Indeed, she gave her best in the movie. And her best is good enough to
be on this list.
More-often-than-not, many tend to dismiss the ‘Asabawood’ genre of
movies as crass, without structure and lacking in linear progression of
plots. While a lot of movies from that axis, juxtaposed with the
so-called ‘New Nollywood’ movies, can be a critics nightmare to watch,
there is no denying that a few actors and actresses in that genre of
movies have given us some performances which deserve applause.
Queen Nwokoye is one of such worthy of mention for 2014. Whilst
researching a bit more on her movies for 2014, I was authoritatively
told that she is presently the most commercial actress in the Asaba
movies, ever since Mercy Johnson went on maternity leave, with her
movies selling in the millions. While such information does little to
influence my artistic evaluation of her acting prowess, it was certainly
important enough for me to file away in my memory bank that Queen must
have something which appeals to the buying audience of such films. After
watching her in a spawn of top-selling Asaba movies in 2014, I understood why.
A lot of readers might not have seen Tunde Kelani’s ‘Dazzling Mirage’, a
film in which Lala Akindoju plays a young, frail sickle cell patient,
Funmiwo. I watched the movie at a film festival in November and I was
impressed with Lala’s portrayal of the lead character. A true-to-type
physical casting by the Director first draws some empathy from the
audience towards Lala and as she goes through the emotional and physical
demands of the movie, the viewer is taken in by Lala’s internalization
of the character as we begin to see and understand what it is to be a
Sickle Cell victim.
Of course there were tentative moments when Lala seemed not to have
fully measured up to the dictates of the role but one could also
appreciate that those moments were few and far between. In ‘Dazzling
Mirage’, the viewer laughs with her, cries with her, feels her pains and
many could very well finish watching the movie believing that Lala is a Sickle Cell sufferer in real life. Such a performance should not go unnoticed.
Kemi Lala Akindoju, in her first major role in a feature length, is one to watch out for in the future.