18 Nigerian Women Film/TV Industry Pioneers On The Rise

18 Nigerian Women Film/TV Industry Pioneers On The Rise

In the ever-evolving landscape of Nigerian cinema and television, a powerful wave of inclusion has been championed by a group of visionary women whose  dedication, talent, and determination has not only reshaped Nollywood narratives but has also paved the way for a new era of inclusivity and representation within the industry.

From groundbreaking directors to fearless producers, these 18 Nigerian women in film and TV stand as trailblazers who continue to challenge stereotypes, break barriers, and amplify the voices of women. Their stories are as diverse as the characters they bring to life or the films they produce, each one leaving indelible marks, defining Nigeria’s vibrant entertainment scene.

 

Directors

 

Uyaiedu Ikpe-Etim

 

Born in 1989, Uyaiedu Ikpe-Etim is a Nigerian film producer, screenwriter and filmmaker, who creates works that tell the stories of Nigeria’s marginalized LGBTQ communities. 

In 2020, she and film producer Pamela Adie rose to prominence in Nigeria due to their production of the film Ìfé. The film was her directorial debut and tells a love story between two women. Ìfé is not the first lesbian-themed film to be produced in Nigeria, but it is the first to show such a relationship normally, without prejudice or stereotypes. She was also named in the 2020 BBC 100 Women of the Year. 

In 2023, 14 years and A day, directed by her and Ayo Lawson, won the award for best fictional short at the Luststreifen film festival.

 

Isioma Osaje

Isioma Osaje is a Nigerian film and television producer and the founder of Agency 106, a boutique firm specializing in Talent Management and Agency services for professionals in the Nigerian Film industry. She is also a Co-Founder at 1 Pod Pictures Limited.

With a diverse background covering over nine years of experience in writing, music journalism, radio broadcasting, and public relations, Isioma Osaje brings a wealth of expertise to her role. 

 

 

Jade Osiberu

Born in August 1985 to the family of Oba Adewale Osiberu, the Elepe of Epe Sagamu, Jadesola Osiberu is a Nigerian writer, director and producer and the founder of Greoh Studios. She had her secondary education in Ibadan, before obtaining a Computer Systems Engineering degree from the University of Manchester. She is also an alumna of the Pan-Atlantic University, where she studied Media and Communications.

Despite working professionally as a software developer after graduation, Jade Osiberu made the decision to switch to film-making. Her work has won her different awards, she is known for Isoken , Sugar Rush, Brotherhood and Gangs of Lagos, the first Nigerian original film set to stream exclusively on Amazon Prime Video.

In September 2022, Osiberu’s Greoh Studios signed a three-year deal with Amazon to develop and produce original scripted TV series and feature film

 

Director Pink

Praise Onyeagwalam  professionally known as Director Pink is a Nigerian music video director, cinematographer and film director. She is the founder of “Pinkline Films”, a Nigerian film company.

Director Pink’s career started in 2020 when she produced her first music video Philomena by Marxii. She directed the music video Running To You by Chike ft Simi which ranked as the most viewed music video in the first half of 2021. In November 2021, she produced a short horror film, Lady Koikoi which was based on the Nigerian high school folktale “Madam Koikoi.”  She has worked with artists across diverse genres including Wizkid, Lil Kesh, Mercy Chinwo among others.

 

Michelle Bello

Michelle Aisha Bello is a British Nigerian film director and film producer. She is also the CEO of the Nigerian-based entertainment and publishing company, Blu Star Entertainment Limited.

After graduating from The American University in 2005, she moved back to Nigeria to pursue her dreams of becoming a film producer/director. In 2007, she worked with prominent TV producer and presenter ,Mo Abudu as an Associate Producer on her hit MNet TV show Moments with Mo. She went on to produce and direct her first feature film, Small Boy in late 2007.

Michelle Bello returned to the United States and earned a master’s degree in Communications, specialising in Film Directing, at Regent University in Virginia. After her graduation in December 2011, she returned home to join the thriving Nollywood industry. Her knowledge, combined with her experience in the industry both locally and internationally, equipped her to produce and direct her second feature film Flower Girl, which was released in February 2013 to rave reviews.

 

Korty

Eniola Korty Olanrewaju, popularly known as Korty, is an artist, model, graphics designer, Nigeria filmmaker and YouTuber. Korty started out with a modelling career in 2017 after signing with Few Models. In March 2018, she worked with Zikoko as a video producer, before working for Mr Eazi’s emPawa Africa as head of content in January 2020 for about ten months.

In November 2020 she started a full time YouTube channel and series, Flow with Korty where she has now gained fast popularity and followership. She has interviewed different Nigerian celebrities on her YouTube show.

In her latest vlog, Korty took her followers through her beautiful journey to making her directorial debut, Victoria’s Secret: The Tour ’23, and her trip to New York for her first movie premiere.

 

 

Ruby Okozie

Well known as Ruby Okezie, Okezie Precious Ruby was born on the 14th of August 1999. Ruby is an actress, model, content creator, and brand influencer. She rose to international prominence after landing a role in the Netflix Original Drama Series Far From Home, where she played the character Nnenna.

Ruby Okezie has appeared in a variety of cinematic projects like Fatal Obsession, A Green Fever, Merry Men 2 and several others. She is a pioneering modeling executive in addition to her acting career, she works as the Casting Director for Premium Models, a top modeling firm in Lagos.  

 

 

Genoveva Umeh

Genoveva Umeh was born on the 8th of  May 1995 in Enugu, Nigeria. She lived in Enugu until age 12 before relocating with her family to the United Kingdom in 2006 where she fell in love with acting when she was in secondary school, and pursued the craft by successfully completing a term at a part time drama school.

She moved to Lagos in 2018 to pursue a full time acting career and booked her first lead role in 2020 film, A Tune away, which earned her a nomination for Best Actress at the 2022 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Award. She was one of the first set of students admitted into Ebonylife Creative Academy in hopes that her talents would be noticed. She has since featured in short films like Monitoring Spirits, Sara, Reflections among others. Shortly after, she caught the attention of Director Kenneth Gyang who recommended her to Media Mogul Mo Abudu and  Ebonylife Creative Academy owner, to audition for the role of Timeyin in Nigeria’s first Netflix original crime thriller series, Blood Sisters. She was also cast as Zina in Far From Home.

Genoveva Umeh has also featured in two 2023 mega movies, Breath of Life where she played the role of Anna and A tribe called Judah where she played the role of Testimony 

 

 

Adaobi Dibor

Dibor Adaobi Lilian was born July 2nd 1998 in Lagos but hails from Anambra State. She attended Nigerian Navy Secondary School, Ojo, Lagos. She is an actress and model who made her first appearance in Chike’s music video Roju, and has featured in movies including Mamba’s Diamond, My Flatmates, and Loud, the movie. Obviously still upcoming, Dibor Adaobi Lilian has so much to offer as she continues to prune and improve her skills.

Beautiful, young, exciting and vibrant, she is the classic expression of where Nollywood is at the moment with the fresh-faced new acts coming on board with so much energy and talent and doing their acts with unseen before dexterity.

Dibor Adaobi Lilian played the role of Oyin in the movie Blood Vessel which was released on the 8th of December 2023 on Netflix.

 

Esther Akpovi

Popularly known as GENZCHEERLEADER, Esther Akpovi is a British-Nigerian Actress, Red Carpet Host, TV Presenter, Songwriter & A&R executive. Born in Lagos and raised in Nottingham, She has starred in various Nigerian and British movies including Three Little Birds, Pheonix Rise, OOTDWaterloo Road, Boiling Point, Tasha & Moma, Gen Z Therapy. She was also a finalist in the cultural pageant show “Miss Nigeria UK” 2020.

The Host & Voice of AFRIFF 2023, Esther Akpovi is the CEO/Co-Founder of Urize. UriZe is a Media Technology Marketplace for Film and TV Rights which matches projects with talent, financing and distribution.  Her TV Debut on MTV, was distributed in 120 countries, with a viral scene amassing 8.5M+  views on Tik Tok.

She previously served on Vox Burner’s Gen Z Advisory Board, Europe’s Top youth marketing and insights (YPDG), as an Advisory Council Member of DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sports) and an I Will Ambassador, an organisation set up in 2013 by HRH The Prince of Wales.

 

Susan Pwajok

Susan Laraba Ganchung Pwajok was born January 15, 2003  in Jos, Plateau State Nigeria. She landed her first role at the age of 3 in the stage play Adaobi is getting married. She is a talented Nigerian actress who rose to fame for her role as Blessing in the popular Nigerian television drama series, The Johnsons. She has been featured in top movies since her rise to prominence despite her young age.

Over the years, the fast-rising actress, who began her career at a young age, has established herself as a household figure in the industry, her first notable Nigerian film was in 2014 with Patrick Doyle and Waje in the movie The Tunnel. She is currently a brand ambassador for Hewlett-Packard, a software company famous for its HP line of computers. Susan Pwajok has also been featured in an official Samsung Galaxy S20 FE advert alongside musicians Korede Bello and Esther Uzodinma.

 

 

Priscilla Ajoke Ojo

Priscilla Ojo is the daughter of prominent Nollywood actress, Iyabo Ojo. She is a graduate from the department of Media and Theatre Arts at Babcock University, a TikTok sensation, social media influencer, content creator and model. She started acting at the age of 14 when she was featured in the movie Beyond Disability, her performance in the movie earned her a nomination for the Best Child Actress by The Best Nollywood awards.

She also appeared in the movie Silence, alongside her mother and the movie Victims, where she played the role of Laide. With a strong social media presence, Priscilla is brand ambassador to various brands, including Beyond The Range, Beautiful Body Nigeria, TECNO Mobile, Mav Herbals, and Cindy Total Weight Loss.

She is also a businessperson and runs an online clothing brand called Priscy Closet, where she sells women’s clothing, and the founder and CEO of an online retail shop, Priscy Luxe.

 

 

Producers

 

Olufunke Akindele

Olufunke Akindele popularly known as Funke Akindele or Jenifa from her movie, Jenifa’s Dairy was born on the 24th of August 1977 in Ikorodu, Lagos State. She is a Nigerian filmmaker, actress, director, producer and  politician.

She starred in the sitcom I Need to Know from 1998 to 2002, which won her the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Her role in Jenifa’s Dairy brought her into fame, she was named the Best Actress in a Comedy at the 2016 and 2017 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards, she also went on to win this same award in 2020 and 2022. 

Olufunke Akindele is the second director to gross over a billion naira at the Nigeria box office and is currently the highest grossing Nigerian director in the Nigerian Box Office with a total gross of over ₦2.9 billion. She also runs a non-governmental organization known as the Jenifa Foundation, which aims at providing young people with vocational skills.

She is the producer and director of the three highest grossing Nollywood movies of all time, A Tribe Called Judah, Battle on Buka Street and Omo Ghetto: The Saga.

Funke Akindele’s latest movie, A Tribe Called Judah has made history by becoming the first Nollywood film to surpass ₦1 billion at the box office. The movie, which was released on December 15, 2023, has been a massive success, grossing over ₦613 million in just two weeks of its release and, as at February 23rd, the movie has grossed 1.4 billion at the box office.

She has also gained recognition as one of the 100 most influential people to the growth and greatness of Nollywood.

 

 

Toyin Abraham Ajeyemi

Olutoyin Abraham Ajeyemi popularly known as Toyin Abraham was born on the 5th of September 1982 in Auchi, Edo State, Nigeria. She is a Nigerian actress and filmmaker, director and content creator. The Edo born actress began her career in 2003, she started by featuring in minor roles but soon gravitated towards lead roles. Over the years, she has produced, directed and featured in several Nigerian films, such as Alakada, Alani, Baba Labake, Ebimi nito, Okafor’s Law and Ebimi ni.

In 2013, Toyin began her own business called TAJ Dresses boutique, which is situated in Lagos. She is one of the many hard working screen goddesses who bring uniqueness to the Nigeria film industry. She has directed and produced so many movies including Fate of Alakada, IjakumoMaliaka amongst others.

 

 

Mo Abudu

Mosunmola Abudu, popularly known as Mo Abudu, was born on the 11th of September 1964, in Hammersmith, West London. She is a Nigerian media mogul, philanthropist, and former human resources management consultant. Mo Abudu has been described by Forbes as “Africa’s Most Successful Woman”, and is rated as one of the “25 Most Powerful Women in Global Television” by The Hollywood Reporter.

Abudu started Ebonylife TV (ELTV) in 2013, a network airing in many countries across Africa, as well as in the UK and the Caribbean to a pan-African audience. EbonyLife TV transmitted its first broadcast on July 1, 2013 on Multichoice’s DSTV.

Establishing EbonyLife Films in 2014, her first film as an executive producer was Fifty. Other movies which she has executively-produced or co-produced include The Wedding Party, The Wedding Party 2, The Royal Hibiscus Hotel, Chief Daddy, Your Excellency and Òlòtūré.

Mo Abudu also produced Blood Sisters, Netflix’s inaugural Nigerian original series which made the top ten list globally, accumulating over 11 million viewing hours.

 

 

Genevieve Nnaji

Nigerian actress, producer, and director, Genevieve Nnaji was born on May 3, 1979 in Mbaise, Imo state. She started her acting career as a child actor in the then-popular television soap opera Ripples at the age of 8. In 1998, at the age of 19, she was introduced into the growing Nigerian film industry with the movie Most Wanted. She was subsequently featured in movies like Last Party, Mark of the Beast, and Ijele. In 2010, she starred in the award-winning film Ijé: The Journey. Till date, she has starred in over 200 Nollywood movies.

Genevieve Nnaji won the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role in 2005, making her the first actress to win the award. In 2011, she was honoured as a Member of the Order of the Federal Republic by the Nigerian government for her contributions to Nollywood.

In November 2015, she produced her first movie called Road To Yesterday, winning Best Movie Overall -West Africa at the 2016 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards

Her directorial debut movie, Lionheart, is the first Netflix film from Nigeria and the first Nigerian submission for the Oscars.

 

 

Kemi Adetiba

Kemi Adetiba is a Nigerian filmmaker, television director and music video director, whose works have appeared on Channel O, MTV Base, Sound City TV, BET and Netflix. She holds a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Lagos and started out professionally as a radio presenter with Rhythm 93.7 FM, before she made the transition from being a voice on radio to producing and presenting several shows on Mnet.

Kemi Adetiba was also a presenter on Soundcity TV and hosted Maltina Dance All for three consecutive seasons. After years of success being in front of the camera, she enrolled at the New York Film Academy to learn the ropes about being behind the cameras, and today, her work as a director is spread across the African continent and beyond its borders.

On 8 September 2016, Kemi Adetiba’s first feature film The Wedding Party premiered opening night, at the Toronto International Film Festival, as the opening film of the City-to-City Spotlight.

 

 

Tope Oshin

Tope Oshin  is a Nigerian television and film director, producer and casting director, listed as one of the most influential Nigerians in film in 2019. In 2015, Pulse magazine named her as one of 9 Nigerian Female Movie Directors You Should Know in Nollywood. She was also celebrated by OkayAfrica as one of the Okay100 Women in March 2018, in commemoration of the Women’s History Month,

Tope Oshin, who was an actor for 12 years, featured in films like Relentless, before veering into directing, working as an associate producer and assistant director for The Apprentice Africa. She has since then become known for directing popular African TV dramas and soap operas such as Hush, Hotel Majestic, Tinsel and MTV Shuga.

She has also produced some of the highest grossing box office movies in Nigeria, including the 2015 romantic film Fifty, which broke box office records upon release in December 2015, taking N20 million in the first weekend, and The Wedding Party 2, which as at 2018, was the highest grossing Nigerian film.

Through her company Sunbow Productions, she was commissioned to produce Season 8 of MTV Shuga , dubbed MTV Shuga Naija 4, and is credited as Head Director, Showrunner, Executive Producer and Producer, after directing and casting Season 6 of the show in 2017.

 

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