In the last three decades, hundreds of Nollywood stars have touched the spotlight with average acting skills.
Only a handful of Nollywood actors have exhibited the ability to completely immerse themselves in the characters that they portray.
The argument usually is that if an actor is able to play diverse roles, he has exhibited range. The glaring flaw is the argument’s displacement of mastery of emotion. An actor's ability to play a villain and a hero, does not say much about how the actor plays these roles.
The focus should be if there an absolute death of the actor and in its stead, a unique character devoid of traces of its player?
In no particular order, this list takes a look at 10 Nollywood actors who have displayed emotional mastery over the years.
1. Gabriel Afolayan
Gabriel Afolayan is arguably the most talented actor in the Nollywood industry. Afolayan’s detailing skill is unrivalled in this space. Clearly, the award-winning actor loses sleep on every character he adopts.
Whether he is playing supporting as seen in his award winning performance as Tavier Jambari in 'Hoodrush' or lead in AMVCA nominated role as Kossi in 'Coming From Insanity', Afolayan understands the techniques of method acting and displays it effortlessly.
2. Bimbo Akintola
One of Nollywood’s transgenerational actors, Bimbo’ Akintola's career kicked off in the 90s and in the last two decades, she’s established a mastery of emotions with her delivery of multiple characters.
The actress is also a trendsetter for Nollywood actresses going bald to fit into character. She was one of the first actresses to have her hair shaved off for her role in ‘The Mourning After', a thriller directed by Jimi Odumosu.
The actress’s range is brilliant, and always a nudge higher than her last. In recent times, she’s appeared in '93 Days', a film based on the heroes of the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria and TV shows.
3. Ramsey Nouah
Ramsey Nouah’s emotional mastery is unarguable. Nouah has the rare ability to elicit whatever emotion he desires from his audience.
He is also one of the first Nollywood actors to experiment with the idea of playing dual roles. His applaud worthy performance in Tade Ogidan’s ‘Dangerous Twins’, is till date, one of the perfect display of his impeccable acting range.
In recent times, the actor has featured in a good number of cinema films and released his directorial debut, 'Living in Bondage: Breaking Free', a sequel to 1993 blockbuster thriller 'Living in Bondage'
4. Kate Henshaw
Kate Henshaw’s stage and screen experience has set her apart from most of her contemporaries.
Equally a transgenerational asset to Nollywood, the actress embodies her characters in a seamless manner. Her most recent delivery in 'The Ghost and the House of Truth' as Officer Stainless, a role originally scripted for a male character proves that Henshaw is one actress you can safely place a bet on.
5. Richard Mofe Damijo
RMD is one of the most typecast actors in the history of Nollywood. His naive, clueless, lover boy character was a big deal for Nollywood film lovers of the 90s and early 2000s.
However larger than life his typecast became, the seasoned actor found a way to bring on a mastery of emotional balance that has kept him on the list of Nollywood's most sought after actors.
He has also grown beyond the typecast to feature in diverse roles including his comical character in 'Three Wise Men', an astute designer in 'Hush' or a distracted rich dad in 'The Wedding Party'.
6. Adesua Etomi-Wellington
Following her debut performance in 'Knocking on Heaven’s Door', Adesua Etomi- Wellington has gone ahead to warm her way into the hearts of Nollywood film lovers.
Currently, she is Nollywood’s irrefutable star girl with at least two huge features yearly including major box office hits like 'The Wedding Party', 'Sugar Rush' and 'The Set Up'.
Wellington’s art is riveting and luxurious.
7. Odunlade Adekola
Odunlade Adekola might be famous for his meme worthy expressions and comical roles but his range as an actor is solid. His breakout movie 'Asiri Gomina', that saw the actor play a governor, remains one of his best performances till date.
Over the years, the actor has grown to become a household name with peculiar fluidity in the delivery of all roles. His Sunday Dagboru character in the action drama of the same title is also one of his fan-favorite characters.
8. Zainab Balogun
Zainab Balogun can't be grouped and that's what has made her film career so successful despite its juvenile stage.
The actress's dexterity is evident in how she takes on various characters. So far, she's been able to avoid being typecast and while she's featured in a few productions, she's done well to stand out for range and presence.
Whether she's playing Sylvia in Daniel Oriahi's psychological thriller or a drug addicted depressed woman in 'God Calling', there's always something intriguing to note with the actor's performance.
9. Tina Mba
Veteran actress Tina Mba is one of Nollywood's most revered actors. Her skill is arguably something of a holy grail for upcoming actors. Mba is totally immersive when she takes on her characters.
Interestingly, the seasoned actor is multilingual which makes adopting characters appear seamless. She's made appearances in critically acclaimed features like 'Isoken', 'Tango with Me' and 2019 suspense drama 'The Set Up'.
10. Blossom Chukwujekwu
The award winning actor became famous for his role as an abusive husband in 'Knocking on Heaven's Door'.
Since his spellbinding performance, he has gone ahead to feature in a good number of TV shows and feature films that's seen him display a fierce mastery of emotion.
Method acting comes naturally to the actor as can be seen in how he adopted characters like Lanre in 'The Visit' or Rotimi in 'Gbomo Gbomo Express'.