On Sunday, June 20, Funke Akindele-Bello was announced the most popular actress in Nigeria by BET Honours through data sourced from a wide database of over eight million individuals.
The honour is coming exactly a year after the 43-year-old mother of two was adjudged the most popular Nigerian actress by the same award organisation through the same process.
The Jenifa star surpassed Genevieve Nnaji, Ini Edo, Sharon Ooja, and Venita Akpofure’s popularity to become the most popular actress in Nigeria.
Akindele-Bello’s popularity has witnessed a steady rise over the last two decades with a variety of characters that endeared many of her fans to her.
An actor, writer, producer, and entrepreneur, Funke Akindele-Bello has enjoyed tremendous success as an actress, filmmaker, and film-preneur over the past decade.
In 2020, the sequel to one of her popular franchises, Omo Ghetto The Saga, topped Nigeria’s box office for seven weeks and became the highest-grossing Nollywood movie of all time in its fifth week, grossing ?636.1 million cumulatively.
This achievement is coming after her big break in acting, which came from her performance in the popular comedy-drama, Jenifa in 2008 and Return Of Jenifa in 2010. Akindele-Bello continues to thrive on the Nollywood scene with her spin-off series, Jenifa’s Diary, Aiyetoro, Industreet, Jenifa on Lockdown while leveraging on new media and network TV stations.
Responding to the honours, Akindele-Bello said, “Na God, hard work and my fans bring this popularity! Chai! I’m blessed. Thank you Thenetng. Oya #jenifans let’s keep keeping on o!”
Funke Akindele-Bello is one of the few Nigerian celebrities with a long list of brands as an ambassador. From Fast-moving consumer goods brands to telco brands and real estate, many brands want a taste of Akindele-Bello’s magic wand.
With over 13 million followers on social media cumulatively, the multi-award-winning actress also ranks as one of Nigeria’s highest-paid influencers.
From her early days in the late 90s to now, this fantastic filmmaker and actress has grown to become one of Nollywood’s emerging powerbrokers in the Nigerian film industry with loads of achievements to her name.
Some of the film characters that have shaped the blossoming career of Akindele-Bello, who is married to an entertainer, Rasheed Bello aka JJC Skillz, include Bisi in ‘I Need to Know, Lefty in Omo Ghetto, Jenifa in Jenifa, Return of Jenifa, and Jenifa’s Diary, and Vivian Aberuagba in My Siblings & I.
Funke Akindele bags another award
Production: I Need to Know
Year: 1997 – 2002
At the young age of 19, Funke Akindele-Bello took on the role of a very inquisitive and nosy young girl, Bisi, in ‘I Need to Know,’ the Nigerian family-oriented television series aired on the NTA network for four years. The character endeared her to many of her fans and her face became synonymous with the programme. Akindele-Bello’s role singled her out as an emerging star and she went on to prove her worth in Nollywood when she pitched her tent with the Odunfa caucus from where she rose to become a film producer from being an actress.
Production: Jenifa, Jenifa’s Diary
Year: 2008, 2011, till date
Between 2002 when the I Need to Know series ended and 2008, Funke Akindele-Bello had successfully rooted her feet in the world of film by featuring in numerous productions and producing a couple under her Scene One productions. In 2008, Funke Akindele-Bello’s lucky changed for the best with the production of Jenifa, a Nigerian comedy-drama film, which starred her as the lead actress. The character portrayed by Akindele gained fame and earned the film four nominations at the Africa Movie Academy Awards in 2008. Akindele-Bello went on to release a sequel to the Jenifa franchise in 2011, two years after the success of the film. The character Jenifa was born and Akindele-Bello’s fan base grew immeasurably. The character morphed into Jenifa’s Diary, which is now one of the most-watched family series on Nigerian TV.
Production: Omo Ghetto
After making a name for herself in Nollywood – through majorly Yoruba speaking movies – and the production of hit comedy-drama, Jenifa, Funke hit another goldmine with the production of a Nigerian crime comedy-drama film entitled Omo Ghetto in 2010. The film, which was directed by Abiodun Olarenwaju, had Akindele-Bello collaborating with Eniola Badmus and Bimbo Thomas, who had earlier featured in Jenifa, to play the lead characters. Lefty became another film character that endeared her to fans and critics in her 24-year-old career. In 2020, Akindele-Bello decided to revisit the story of Lefty with a sequel to Omo Ghetto. The move went on to rule Nigeria’s box office as the sequel became the highest-grossing Nollywood movie of all time in its fifth week, grossing ?636.1 million cumulatively over a 12 weeks run in the cinema.
Character: Vivian Aberuagba
Production: My Siblings & I
Year: 2019 till date
With the success of Akindele-Bello’s Scene One productions, which has morphed into a production powerhouse and a streaming platform, she became the toast of fans while others green with envy. This indigene of Ikorodu, Lagos state, decided to team up with Multichoice’s Africa Magic to create a family-oriented series. In 2019, the result of the partnership, My Siblings & I, began airing and it became an instant hit. Again, Akindele-Bello was quick to stand out as Vivian Aberuagba, the wife of one of the Aberuagba’s sons. Her character in the instant hit TV series further endeared many to Funke Akindele-Bello’s personality, hence, earning her Nigeria’s most popular actress for two consecutive years in a row.