There are certain actors who we have seen in movies and TV shows, and are constantly captivated by their performances. However, they are often not recognized for their craft nor do they land roles that showcase their talent.
Maybe the quality of their movies do not meet the required standard of most Nigerian award platforms. Maybe they are victims of a perceived divide: 'Asaba vs new Nollywood.' Maybe they aren't doing enough to build their brand and are not marketing themselves via the flashy lights at red carpet events. Or maybe they have exactly the kind of career they want and are not hunting for roles.
Whichever is the case, their talent and versatility deserve more recognition.
1. Queen Nwokoye
On June 30 2018, Nwokoye was announced as a nominee in the AMVCA Best Actress in a Comedy category for her role as Ugonma in "Excess Luggage." Definitely not her best role yet, but she stands out as the film’s secret weapon and gives it just enough brightness to remain alive.
After a Twitter user praised and described the actress as 'underrated,' another slightingly refused, making reference to the quality of her work and 'Asabawood' - a sobriquet for Nigerian films shot in the Eastern part of Nigeria, widely believed to be of low quality. "Nollywood has moved on, left Asabawood behind," the Twitter user wrote.
In her response, Nwokoye defended 'Asaba movies and described it as the 'origin of Nollywood, with its own audience.'
The major difference between the ‘Asabawood’ and ‘New Nollywood’ is that the latter has the perfect blending of cinematic style and technical advance - and sometimes, that's all they have to offer - which the former can't boast of. However, the Asabawood is popular for telling the kind of stories most Nigerians find relatable. They also boast several talented actors who are overlooked because of an existing divide. Actors like Queen Nwokoye.
The actress is most known for her roles in "Adure," “Aremu the Principal,” “Ada Mbano” and “Pretty Liars." For "Adure," she had to learn an Imo State dialect of Igbo language.
A bundle of talent, her comic timing and distinctive laugh are infectious, making her a delight to watch in comedy films. And even when she decides to take up serious roles, she delivers with enough intensity to take viewers through a journey.
She definitely deserves some respect and more lead roles on the big screen.
2. Chacha Eke
If you go back to the first movie you saw Chacha Eke, you would instantly notice that she was the true star in it.
She landed her first major role in the 2010 movie "The Bank Job" - directed by her now husband, Austin Faani - and has since featured in many movies including "Child of Pain," "The Promise,' "A Dance for the Prince," "Mirror of Life," "The Village Girl I Love," "Greedy Soul" and "Love in Paradise."
She has also given back to the industry with the reality TV series "Dare to Dream Talent Quest" - an avenue created by the actress and her husband for up-and-coming actors to hit the peak of their career and showcase talents.
Eke's talent and impeccable range with which she brings any character to life deserves some recognition. Here is an actor with the ability to completely disappear into roles in a way that makes you forget you’re watching a movie with no story or no plot.
3. Omowunmi Dada
As Folake in “Jemeji,”Omowumi Dada's performance is an ideal combination of comedy and drama. Dada brings a rare comedic timing to the character. She is charming, dramatic and very funny, especially in scenes with Tope Tedela's Obi and Arase Emokkpae's Senami. She flawlessly keeps up the humour even during the most emotional moments of the show.
Dada has racked up an excellent filmography with works like "Catch.er," "Omugwo," The Antique," "Ojuju" and "King Invisible," but It's the ease with which she beautifully delivers all her characters that is most impressive.
We can't wait for her to show off her range in more movies - on the small and big screen - whilst receiving all the accolades she deserves.
4. Ebele Okaro
Charming to watch, Okaro often steals every scene she is in, even in bad movies. She takes the audience for a ride with the way she is able to convey so much through her eyes and facial expressions.
She has what it takes to capture your attention as a devoted mother, overprotective one, a mean mother or in-law, or a hilarious wife. And in movies like "What Lies Within," she is at ease with her comic relief task.
Over the years, Okaro has churned out several stirring performances. Her latest is her intense interpretation in the Okechukwu Oku film, "Black Rose," which earned her a deserving AMVCA Best Supporting actress nomination.
She deserves all the respect she gets, and more; hopefully, she gets to land more roles deserving of her talent.
5. Tina Mba
Tina Mba is an actress with a talent and range that very few actors can match, but she doesn't get the credit and recognition she deserves.
For over two decades now, Mba has delivered nuanced and detailed performances, with her most recent works, "Isoken," "Bariga Sugar" "Jemeji" and "Okafor's Law," serving as a reminder of her talent and range.
Consistency has been her watchword, and unlike some of her peers who have descended into leading average movies, Mba has remained relevant with a filmography that is rich and carefully selected.
In 2017, she delivered the kind of talent and range that most of the actresses were unable to match up to, yet none of her performances earned her a 2018 AMVCA nomination.
Mba's versatility over the years has remained unparalleled and deserves more recognition and credit than she gets.