Funke Akindele’s Admirable Evolution From Child Star to One of Nollywood’s Biggest Names

Funke Akindele’s Admirable Evolution From Child Star to One of Nollywood’s Biggest Names

- Nigerian actress, Funke Akindele, is one celebrity who has an admirable grass to grace story

- She has been able to turn her humble beginnings into a reputation worth a fortune

- Legit.ng's Owolawi Taiwo takes a look at Funke Akindele's impressive rise to fame

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It is a common saying that many are born but few are chosen. In the case of Nollywood actress and movie producer, Funke Akindele, she appears to have been born and chosen for the path she later charted in life.

The Nigerian entertainment industry has evolved through many stages and not many people were fortunate enough to survive it. While some people did not rest on their oars and kept on pushing for when their big break would come, others fell off on the sidelines and remained only a faint memory in the minds of a few.

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The movie industry bigwigs today would not be listed without the name of Funke Akindele being mentioned. Well, it was not always peaches and roses for her and she paid her dues in the industry before attaining her level of importance.

Funke Akindele’s Admirable Evolution From Child Star to One of Nollywood’s Biggest Names
Funke Akindele started out as a bright-eyed young girl hoping to make it big in the industry. Today, she is a VIP. Photos: UNFPANigeria, @funkejenifaakindele
Source: Instagram

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For most people, it appears their earliest memory of the Nollywood star is when she acted as a young secondary school girl named Bisi in one of the most popular drama series at the time, I Need To Know.

How it started

The United Nation Population Fund (UNPF) sponsored series aired from 1988 to 2002. That was when Nigerians got to know of the young Funke Akindele who would later become a big name in the movie industry.

Akindele’s talent was undeniable and she had starred in numerous movies mostly in the Yoruba film industry. Her big break however came after the making of her popular movie, Jenifa, in 2008.

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Despite it being a Yoruba movie, its comic nature appealed to all classes of people. Before long, a great number of slangs emanated from the movie with many young Nigerians adopting her manner of speaking in the film.

Funke Akindele won an Africa Movie Academy Award (AMAA) for the Best Actress in a Leading Role after she played Jenifa.

Its great success also led to part two of the movie being made in 2011 and it was also a huge success. This had successfully stamped her in the consciousness of Nigerians and even broadened her scope away from the Yoruba genre of the Nigerian movie industry.

Jenifa remained a goldmine to be tapped and a television series titled Jenifa’s Diary was also launched in 2014 and it is still running as at the time of writing this article.

The top actress has been praised from time to time on social media for having a great range especially when it comes to role interpretation. She has starred in movies acting as a tout, lover girl, student, and many more while delivering top-notch performances.

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Even though her career seems to have been stellar, she has also had her fair share of controversies.

Controversies

In 2020, during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Funke Akindele and her husband, Abdulrasheed Bello aka JJC Skillz, gained negative publicity after they hosted a house party with more than the advised number of guests in attendance.

This was only discovered after videos from the occasion were shared on the couple’s Instagram pages. In no time, Nigerians criticised them for it and they were later picked up by the police.

The issue even gained international attention seeing as foreign media outfits such as CNN, BBC, The Sun, Daily Mail, Aljazeera, and more reported about it.

At the time, it looked like their fall from grace was imminent. The couple was arrested, fined and made to do community service. Thankfully, the matter later died down and they moved on with their careers while taking it as one of those challenges in life.

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Another time Funke Akindele’s career was almost dragged in the mud was when one of her former staff, Cassandra Owolabi aka Khassie, accused her of physical and emotional abuse.

According to Khassie, working for the A-list actress was like enslavement. She also claimed to have written five series of Jenifa’s Diary and was never given credit.

That wasn’t all; the former staff said they weren’t allowed freedom of movement, speech, or expression. She even claimed to have witnessed Akindele slapping another staff like a mother would hit her child.

Well, the allegations soon died down after other people who had worked for the film star attested to her good character.

With a female Nigerian celebrity as big as Funke Akindele, one might wonder how her love life has been seeing as a number of her colleagues who are also doing well for themselves have been unable to find true love.

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Her love life

Funke, like many other female celebs, struggled with love at a point in her career.

In her bid to find the man after her own heart, the movie star entered into her first marriage on May 26, 2012, when she tied the knot with Alhaji Kehinde Adeola Oloyede.

Funke Akindele’s admirable evolution from child star to one of Nollywood’s biggest names
Funke Akindele got married to Kehinde Oloyede in 2012. Photo: @bellanaija.com
Source: UGC

The union made headlines with a lot of people expressing joy that Akindele had found love. She even had to take on a Muslim name, Khadijat, ahead of their wedding considering her husband’s religion.

Alas, it wasn’t to last. They parted ways in July 2013 while citing irreconcilable differences.

As time went on, Akindele found love again in the arms of ace music executive and TV producer, Abdulrasheed ‘JJC Skillz’ Bello.

The duo made things official in London in May 2016, and they have continued to wax strong. They also eventually welcomed their first children together, a set of twin boys, in 2018.

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Akindele also has several stepchildren seeing as her hubby has other kids from previous relationships. They all seem to get along well going by their displays on social media.

Social media influence on her career

Funke Akindele has no doubt come a long way from the young girl who acted in I Need To Know.

In this day and age, social media is a very important part of the celebrity lifestyle and it plays a huge role in their visibility, acceptance, popularity, and more.

Just recently, she was named the most followed Nigerian actress on Instagram. This came after she hit 13 million followers on the photo-sharing site. This was just the tip of the iceberg and Funke went ahead to achieve more feats.

Recent achievements

Funke’s gangster comedy film, Omo Ghetto: The Saga, was recently named as the highest-grossing Nigerian film for the year 2020.

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According to the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN), Omo Ghetto maintained its number one spot for three weeks and in January 2021, it had grossed N468,036,300.

It took over from Kemi Adetiba’s The Wedding Party which held the record for four years.

According to businesswoman, Damilola Rachel, Funke Akindele's consistency, ability to mind her business and delivery has helped her to remain relevant.

However, social media expert, Tobi believes that she was just lucky but was prepared for the luck.

In his words:

"She was just lucky and she rode on that luck as someone who has been prepared which makes the case for those that believe there is nothing like luck just preparation meeting opportunity.
"But I will still say she was lucky, she was prepared but still lucky."

A travel consultant, Adeyinka Amusu, who featured in some scenes in Jenifa's Diaries, had something different to say about the actress. While she admitted that she and Funke were not on set at the same time, the movie star continued to run things despite being absent.

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In her words:

"Funke is someone who loves things to go perfect. She was not on set but she was giving orders from where she was. She is very hardworking and consistent and I love that about her"

Legit.ng earlier reported on the time fans praised Funke Akindele for her hardworking nature on social media. According to them, her type is rare.

They did this after she disclosed the numerous she played to make the Omo Ghetto movie a success.

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