2023 in Review: The Nollywood women who lit up our screens

2023 in Review - Nollywood women

As the year slowly winds down, we are left with memories of the good and the bad. We are also left to pick what will serve as reminders and indicators of success throughout the year. This year at Marie Claire Nigeria, we’re choosing to highlight all the exceptional women in various industries who have ensured their names are echoed through the years.

In our first edition of “2023 in Review,” we delve into the enthralling world of Nollywood women, analysing their achievements and the tenacious spirit that drives them to alter the story of African cinema.

These women are creating waves and leaving their imprint on the industry”‘s environment. They are storytellers, visionaries, and change agents, leading Nollywood into unexplored territory and demolishing conventional preconceptions about women”s limits in the film industry.

From producers to writers and actors, here are the women who set the film industry ablaze all through 2023.

Ade Laoye

Ade Laoye on instagram

Ade Laoye” ‘s outstanding performance in Netflix” ‘s “The Black Book” is certainly one for the books. Her character, Vic Kalu, in the Nigerian crime thriller produced by Editi Effiong, raised many questions from viewers and placed a clear spotlight on Laoye this year. Her performance in and of itself garnered critical acclaim for its depth and emotional intensity.

With this exceptional performance under her belt and her exceptional contribution to Nigerian cinema, 2024 shows much promise for this budding star.

Bimbo Ademoye

Bimbo Ademoye on instagram

Bimbo Ademoye has perfected the art of cementing her name in the minds of cinema enthusiasts. All through 2023, she managed to do just that and even more for the film industry. From her exceptional role as the ferocious character Queen Arolake in “Anikulapo” (2022) to movies like “Big Love” and “Gangs of Lagos” in 2023, Ademoye is nothing short of spectacular.

As the year runs out, Bimbo Ademoye shows no indications of relenting. She is destined for even greater success in 2024, thanks to her talent, perseverance, and entrepreneurial drive. We anticipate her appearing in fascinating new acting projects, cementing her position as a key personality in African cinema.

Genevova Umeh

Throughout 2023, Genenvova solidified her place in the film industry. While she did not play the lead in a big film, her presence graced various platforms and genres, demonstrating her versatility and unforgettable talent. From “MTV Shuga” to “Breath of Life” and “A Tribe Called Judah,” Genenvova remained a true beacon of resilience and passion. With her talent, passion, and diverse experiences in 2023, Genevova Umeh is poised for even greater success in the coming years.

Bolanle Austen-Peters

Bolanle Austen Peters on Instagram

Women”‘s history is often told from the perspective of those who have something to lose, and more often than not, the stories are told by men. This year, the untold story of Fumilayo Ransome Kuti was beautifully retold by film producer and creative connoisseur Bolanle Austen-Peters.

In her successful attempt to retell the story of a pacemaker and changemaker of Nigerian women’s history, Bolanle headed to the African International Film Festival with the intent to dominate and did just that.

Through this exceptional production of “Fumilayo Ransome Kuti”, Bolanle Austen-Peters has become a noteworthy film contributor we will look out for all through 2024.

Funke Akindele

Funke Akindele on Instagram

Funke Akindele’s run throughout the decade is undoubtedly one for the history books. However, throughout 2023, Funke cemented her place as Nigerian cinema”s icon with the outstanding and exciting TV series “She Must Be Obeyed” and, most recently, in cinema”s “A Tribe Called Judah”.

As one of Nigerian cinema”s highest-grossing producers, Funke Akindele”s exceptional run in the film industry is remarkable, and we can only wait and see what 2024 has in store for the cinematic maven.

Ireti Doyle

Ireti Doyle on Instagram

Over the years, Ireti Doyle has been typecast for roles that have been thought to best suit her. However, this year, “The Black Book” and “The Origin: Madam Koi Koi” opened a new door in Ireti’s film career, opening her up to dynamic roles that will cause a shift in the Nigerian film industry.

Her exceptional performance as a pawn in the grand scheme of these films did not go unnoticed. However, her talent and irresistible prowess in every scene tell us that 2024 holds more in store for Ireti Doyle.

Jade Osiberu

Jade Osiberu on Instagram

Nigeria’s action thriller category only got juicier, with Jade Osiberu holding her place in the film industry. From the “Brotherhood” to the controversial “Gangs of Lagos”, Jade’s creative genius can only be fully grasped through watching and participating in her excellence.

It comes as no surprise that she has a year’s deal with Amazon Prime Video to produce feature films and series for the streaming platform. As 2023 remains a year to remember Jade Osiberu, 2024 only shows more promise for her.

Martha Ehinome

Martha Ehinome on Instagram

From “Wura” to “The Origin: Madam Koi Koi “, Martha Ehinome is nothing short of outstanding, performance-wise. Her most recent feature in the horror thriller has sparked a buzz in the minds of Nigerians, all while showing her flexibility in honing characters to entrance viewers. Her skill and versatility know no bounds, and in 2024, we hope to get more out of Martha’s indelible talent.

Shaffy Bello

Shaffy Bello on Instagram

An ‘icon living’ as some may describe her, Shaffy Bello has made an unquestionable run all through 2023.

From making the most of her unforgettable character, Big Daddy, in “The Black Book” to establishing an acting course to establish and inspire more individuals to find their place in the industry, we can say without a doubt that Shaffy Bello truly is an icon living, and 2024 shows more promise for the actress.

Uzoamaka Aniunoh

Uzoamaka Aniunoh on Instagram

From MTV Shuga to the award-winning and Oscar consideration submission, “Mami Wata,” Uzoamaka Aniunoh has established her talent in Nigeria’s film industry. Her performance in Mami Wata received high praise, and her talent shows more promise for the coming year. While the actor is criminally underrated, this is just the beginning of her budding career.

While this list is not exhaustive of the Nollywood women changing the status quo and setting the standard for the Nigerian film industry, these women stand out among the most exceptional in the Nigerian film industry. Join us as we celebrate the cinematic transformation spearheaded by these outstanding women who are creating waves and leaving an everlasting impact on Nollywood’s heritage.


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