In the world of Nollywood, 2023 has been a year of stellar performances, compelling narratives, and undeniable talent. From the heart-wrenching dramas to the adrenaline-pumping action sequences, Naija cinema has witnessed a kaleidoscope of emotions brought to life by some of its finest actors.
As the year unfolds, it’s time to cast a spotlight on the top actors who have illuminated the screens, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of audiences.
Join us on a cinematic journey as we celebrate the top 7 actors in no particular order who have defined and elevated Nollywood in 2023.
The former Big Brother Naija star has consistently captivated viewers, building on his standout performance as Andy in “Sugar Rush”. This year, he showcased his acting prowess in two compelling roles that left viewers in awe. Playing Obalola in Jade Osiberu’s “Gangs of Lagos” reminded us of his remarkable portrayal of the bad boy in “Brotherhood” (2022).
Following this, he took on the character Edafe ‘Majemijesu’ Umukoro in Slum King, a vengeful man seeking retribution for his family’s tragedy. With two distinct “bad boy” roles in a single year, he kept the audience engaged, portraying each character uniquely. To top it off, his outstanding performance earned him the prestigious Best Actor in a Drama (Movie/TV Series) award for Brotherhood at the 2023 African Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA).
Based on real-life events, Osiberu’s crime drama, “The Trade”, narrates the tale of Dike Maduka, also known as Eric, portrayed by Blossom Chukwujekwu. Eric, a brilliant yet infamous billionaire kidnapper, left a lasting impact on the southern part of Nigeria over numerous years.
Blossom’s exceptional portrayal of the complex, multiple-personality role became a standout feature of the production, earning him a well-deserved nomination for Best Actor in a Drama (TV/Series) at the 2023 AMVCA.
Gideon Okeke stands out as an actor who seamlessly steps into roles, fully immersing himself in the characters he portrays. Whether it’s his compelling performance in “The Trade,” his memorable portrayal of the villainous Tequila in the series “Slum King,” or his role as Obi in the cinematic release “Egun,” Gideon Okeke consistently delivers nothing short of phenomenal acting. In “Egun,” as he plays the character of Obi who embarks on a quest for justice against workplace injustice, his portrayal is both almost maniacal and undeniably professional.
Richard Mofe Damijo
Commencing the year as Chief Fernandez, the formidable political figure who exerted control over “Shanty Town”, RMD transitioned into the formidable Paul Edima in “The Black Book” by Editi Effiong.
Embarking on a quest for justice for his wrongly accused deceased son, RMD unveiled a different facet of his acting prowess. With intense martial acts, his portrayal of a bad guy in Paul Edima was also marked by intelligence and strategy.
While some viewers have deliberated on which of Paul’s scenes stood out the most, there is indisputable agreement that the nuanced performances throughout were undeniably captivating.
Adedimeji is often remembered for his humorous and emotionally charged performances, but this year, his portrayal of Gbotija in Femi Adebayo’s epic “Jagun Jagun” is not easily erased from memory. Transitioning before our eyes from a young man with the unique ability to communicate with and control trees to an impeccable swordsman. Through his refreshing portrayal of Gbotija, Adedimeji showcased his versatility as an actor, solidifying his status as one to watch.
The Netflix series “Shanty Town” marked the actor’s official comeback to the big screen after a five-year hiatus from acting. Usually, villains in a story are despised, but not in this case. His portrayal of Scar, although dark and brutal, became one of the captivating roles that held the narrative together.
From the evident scars adorning his body to actions and mannerisms that maintained their intensity throughout the film’s duration, pinpointing the ultimate winning scene is a challenge. Taking a prolonged break from acting is one feat, but making a return with a demanding and defining role like Scar demonstrates that the veteran actor’s extended silence didn’t diminish his prowess.
Wale Ojo recently played the role of Timi in the recently unveiled “Breath of Life,” delivering a sterling performance. Known for sparingly gracing the big screens, each appearance becomes a much-anticipated event for the audience, who eagerly immerse themselves in his every portrayal.
In the character of Timi, initially shrouded in darkness, Ojo skillfully transforms him into someone effortlessly lovable as his subtle acts of kindness unfold before making the ultimate sacrifice. Ojo’s ability to convey the intensity of his characters through the expressions he wears on his face leaves a lasting imprint on the audience’s memory, creating a memorable and captivating effect.