Underpaid Nollywood stars are taking matters into their hands and seeking financial stability in the comfort of juicy social media influencing gigs...
“I don’t want to chase my helpers away. I don’t feel comfortable saying that yet. Maybe when I’m as big as the likes of Toke Makinwa, Taaoma and co…”
These were the exact words of fast-rising Nigerian skit maker, Folagade Banks, after I asked about his current rates. For the young Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) graduate, divulging such information could ruin his potential earnings in the booming social media influencing industry.
Nigerians and fans alike have often raised their eyebrows at actresses and relatively new content creators among other star figures who take to social media announcing the purchase of luxury Lagos mansions or expensive automobiles that run into the tune of millions.
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Questions have been posed about how much these entertainers earn from their acting gigs and the numbers never seem to tally up. For instance, In September 2019 just before the COVID-19 pandemic, The Smart Money Woman actress, Kemi Lala-Akindoju penned a lengthy rant on Twitter lamenting the slim earnings of actors.
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“An actor like me can’t take 3 roles at once- my art is still important to me. So actors like me become friends with poverty, or we find other streams of income or we become frustrated. Let me tell you another truth MANY NOLLYWOOD ACTORS ARE FRUSTRATED AND CANNOT GIVE THEIR BEST”
Lala-Akindoju who has featured in a number of big-budget Nollywood movies categorically stated that she has no memory of the last time she got ‘good money’ from acting.
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“When was the last time I was paid ‘good money’ as an actor? .....I can’t remember. But because I love my job, I want to perform and show the world what I can do, I don’t want my talent to just be for me and my family, I take the roles…at least some. I’m learning to say no now .”
Although difficult to get the exact rates that movie stars earn at the moment, veteran actor Fabian Adibe in a 2022 viral interview suggests that people earn as little as N100k in today’s Nollywood.
Another famous movie star, Femi Ogedengbe, who now resides in the USA where he works as a security guard told Kemi Kilani that the job pays him far better than his earnings as an actor in Nigeria.
“Oh yes! I am now a security guard in the USA and so what? Well, I have only been doing this for a little more than one year now and I can boldly say without any shame that what I have achieved more than I did in my father’s land being an actor/director/producer for over twenty-something years."
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The pandemic boom
Before the coronavirus lockdown, popular actors had supplemented their meagre earnings with money from brand ambassadorship deals, appearances at social functions and some even hosted events.
Unfortunately, the entertainment industry took a heavy financial hit in the midst of the lockdown and this meant that an already unstable source of income became almost inexistent.
There were no parties; no events to host and movie shooting equipment were shelved—at least for some time.
While it could have been a moment to mope around about being broke, the lockdown forced these entertainers to dig deeper into their creative juices and try out new experiences. Of course, movies couldn’t be shot and events couldn’t be hosted, so what was the way forward?
44-year-old Nollywood actress, Iyabo Ojo, perfectly answers this question.
Like other creatives in the entertainment industry, the actress was forced to remain in the confines of her Lekki mansion as the pandemic held income streams to ransom.
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At the time, TikTok had growing popularity among the youths but it wasn’t quite the go-to social media platform for the aunties and uncles—Instagram and Facebook ranked as their first options.
However, Ojo who lives with her grownup kids, Priscilla and Festus, would eventually become introduced to TikTok and even bag an award from the social media platform a few months after she joined.
In a 2021 interview with City People, Iyabo admitted that started making the videos out of boredom but it got to a point where brands and companies started reaching out for adverts.
“I started doing it out of boredom during the lockdown when there was nowhere to go, so I had to just engage myself in something to kill the boredom.”
“I never knew that it would go as well as it did. It has opened multiple doors for me. I have made more money creating content on TikTok than all my years in the Nigerian movie industry,” Ojo disclosed during a 2022 interview on Silverbird Today.
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With Iyabo Ojo smiling to the bank, her colleagues who equally commanded millions of followers on their social media platforms knew that there was money to be made even in the middle of a pandemic—and life after COVID-19.
This is my rate card
For movie stars whose source of livelihood had been threatened by the pandemic and others who only earned peanuts before the COVID-19 era, this was how their journey into full-blown social media influencing commenced.
Many had to revisit their drawing tables, set up meetings with their teams and have an idea of what their social media currency could earn them.
For those who commanded millions of followers on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Twitter, this was real money—on a platter.
This author was able to obtain actress and media personality, Nancy Isimeh’s rate card for a one-year ambassadorial deal pegged at N40 million. See a breakdown of fees below:
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- 2 main feed posts monthly on Instagram
- 2 story posts monthly on Instagram
- Attendance of 4 events (1 per quarter)
- 2 photoshoots/video shoots
- TVC rights for 1year
- Image rights for digital advertising and OOH advertising for 1 year i.e billboards, flyers, lamp posts and other branding items.
- Brand exclusivity for 1 year
- First right of refusal for any branding opportunities (acting and The Nancy Isime Show)
- Fee: 40 million naira
20-year-old My Siblings and I star, Uzodinma Esther, also charges to the tune of millions for influencing gigs. The young actress’ rate card was obtained also by this author. See a breakdown below:
Corporate brand Campaigns
Video : 250,000NGN
Story; 60,000NGN. A month 600k
Consumer Brand Campaigns
STORY; 50,000NGN a month 500k
These are for one-off campaigns...
Mass Market brand
Video; 80,000NGN (50k Best price)
Story; 15,000NGN a month 350k
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Per outfit: 20k
2 outfits 35k
1 year 4 million
See a breakdown of top five actresses and their earnings below:
- Funke Akindele $97,000 (over N40m)
- Mercy Johnson Okojie $80,000 (over N33m)
- Mercy Aigbe $69,000 (Over N28m)
- Adesua Etomi Wellington $30,000 (over N12m)
- Bisola Aiyeola $21,000 (over N8)
While the ladies seem to be steadily cashing out, the same cannot be said of their male counterparts whose earnings aren't as robust. However, this is not to say the money is not trickling in.
Just as Iyabo Ojo reigns supreme as Queen of TikTok, actor Kunle Afod has also built an impressive following with his videos on the platform and doubled his earning potential while at it.
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A visit to the Instagram pages of Odunlade Adekola, Femi Adebayo, among others greets visitors with a plethora of advertisements from real estate brands and beverage companies to mention a few.
Whatever the case may be for these entertainers, influencing has been able to bridge a gap in their finances and stay in touch with their true passion for acting.