Talking about Nollywood isn’t complete without mentioning Funke Akindele, the Box Office Queen.
We can all agree that her film, “A Tribe Called Judah,” grossing over N1 billion in revenue at the box office, has earned her that title. Even before the release of “A Tribe Called Judah,” Funke Akindele racked up numbers at the box office. Akindele’s film “Omo Ghetto: The Saga,” released in 2020, made N636 million at the box office. Her other film, “Battle on Buka Street,” which hit cinemas two years ago, recorded N668 million.
Funke Akindele isn’t just a trailblazing producer; she’s a master of transformation on screen. She’s a true acting chameleon with an incredible ability to shift from deeply moving, tear-jerking scenes to moments that leave you roaring with laughter. Akindele effortlessly takes you on an emotional rollercoaster, showcasing her exceptional range and captivating presence.
“Jenifa”: Jenifa (2008)
Many have agreed that “Jenifa” is the film that gave rise to Funke Akindele. In “Jenifa,” Funke is a typical “village girl” who is thrust into a new world when she attends the University of Lagos. The movie garnered four nominations at the 2009 Africa Movie Academy Awards, including categories such as Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Original Soundtrack, and Best Nigerian Film. Akindele also secured the Best Actress in a Leading Role award at the Africa Movie Academy Awards for her performance in the same film.
With time, the film has grown to become a fan favourite and a Nollywood classic. It even got its own sequel titled “The Return of Jenifa,” and the renowned series “Jenifa’s Diary.” Her role as “Jenifa” grew to be a timeless one that has outlasted even Funke’s real name, as a lot of fans have continued to refer to her as “Jenifa.” Many of the series’ clips have become memes passed around on TikTok and Twitter, proving that Jenifa is an unforgettable character in Nollywood.
“Taiwo”: Taiwo Taiwo (2008)
Funke Akindele initially rose to fame in the Yoruba film sector, paving her way into the broader Nollywood landscape. Among her notable Yoruba movies is “Taiwo Taiwo,” a film that blends the thrill and drama of a Bonnie and Clyde story with the unique flair of Nollywood.
In “Taiwo Taiwo,” Funke takes on the roles of a mother and wife in the morning and an armed robber at night alongside her husband, played by Femi Adebayo. Their chemistry stunned fans of Yoruba films. Though it was released in 2008, it remains a cherished film amongst fans of Yoruba films.
“Maami”: Maami (2011)
In this Tunde Kelani film, Funke Akindele takes a step away from her usual witty characters. Taking place just two days before the 2010 World Cup, “Maami” narrates the journey of Kashimawo (Wole Ojo), an accomplished international soccer player. It delves into his poignant childhood, where he grapples with memories of his mother’s unwavering love amid the challenges of poverty and deprivation, as well as his strained relationship with his estranged father.
Funke Akindele has been lauded for her exceptional talent in portraying vulnerability and raw emotion on screen, deeply moving viewers to tears. She skillfully conveys a sense of profound weariness, allowing the audience to feel her characters’ emotional burden. This role earned her an AMVCA nomination for Best Actress in a Drama in 2013. It also solidified her range.
“Cleo”: Pretty Liars (2014)
“Pretty Liars” stars Funke Akindele, Nse Ikpe Etim, and Queen Nwokoye as broke friends who work as sex workers but lie to each other about their economic background. As time passes, keeping up with their lies becomes harder. When the truth comes to light, they decide to make a pact to flourish together by defrauding men.
This movie showed the duality of Funke Akindele. One minute, she is her usual razz and funny babe; the next, she is a posh, high-end babe. Fun fact: the popular Tiktok sound “Why are you running?” comes from this movie. We can say Funke Akindele has a knack for playing timeless characters.
“Hauwa”: Who’s The Boss (2019)
Remember Miranda from “The Devil Wears Prada?” This is the kind of boss Hauwa is. We dare say she is slightly worse. She won’t let you leave, nor will she let you prosper.
Naz Onuzo’s “Who’s the Boss” portrayed Funke Akindele as Hauwa. It tells the tale of a young and ambitious employee (Sharon Oja) striving to climb the corporate ladder but consistently facing devaluation from her boss, Hauwa.
Funke Akindele ate and left no crumbs in this role. For a minute, we believed she was this way in real life. This role reminded us of her superb talent, as the best actors are the ones who play their roles so well that it becomes hard to distinguish them from their characters.
“Lefty”: Omo Ghetto: The Saga (2020)
“Omo Ghetto: The Saga” is a sequel to the 2010 comic drama “Omo Ghetto.” It follows the story of Lefty, played by Funke Akindele, who causes trouble in her town with her squad, played by Chioma Akpota, Eniola Badmus, and Bimbo Thomas.
In this film, Funke returns to the twin trope that Nollywood explored during the 2010s, portraying Ayomide, the responsible twin, and Lefty, the rebellious black sheep of the family. However, Lefty takes centre stage as the main character.
Funke Akindele’s Lefty seems like the usual razz role she plays. But Funke Akindele takes “area mama” to a new level. It’s almost like she was one in her past life. She directed this movie with JJC Skillz, and they play with genres like comedy, action, and a bit of tragedy. The film became the highest-grossing film of 2020. She also won Best Actress in a Comedy award at the 2021 Africa Movie Academy Awards.
Funke Akindele’s contributions continue to shape and elevate the landscape of Nigerian cinema. Her ability to bring characters to life reflects her dedication to her craft, solidifying her status as a true icon in Nollywood.