by Wilfred Okiche
It is the annual YNaija series of power lists, celebrating some of the most influential young persons in the country. We have scouted the length and breath of Nigeria to bring you the 10 names that matter the most in entertainment.
Age bracket is 18 to 40.
The Chocolate City label Chief executive may have lost 2 of his A-list acts, Brymo and Jesse Jagz but he remains master of the game and the label, one of the most influential. Ice Prince remains one of the most profitable rappers in the game and the recent release of his sophomore album proved audiences are catching the fire of Zamani. M.I keeps racking the endorsement deals and and with a steady push by rappers Pryse and singer Nosa, it appears nothing even happened. Appaz, as they say on Twitter, some people weren’t born to lose.
The African Film Festival (AFRIFF) has been around for 3 years only through the tenacity and hardwork of Ms Chioma Ude. The founder/CEO makes it seem like an age-old institution. In 2013, the festival moved to Calabar, thanks to Governor Liyel Imoke and celebrated its best year yet with everyone who is anyone turning up to make it a show to remember. Highlights were the new talents discovered, fresh voices heard and assemblage of the biggest movie stars on the continent. It has become the most important film festival for the industry.
Darey has come a long way from his days as an On Air Personality on hit radio station Cool FM. First, he became one of the country’s finest vocalists, reliably churning out great material by the numbers. His ‘Love like a Movie concert’ which has attracted both Kim Kardashian and Kelly Rowland in it’s 2-year existence has become the most important music concert of the year. Alade’s events/production outfit Soul Muzik has therefore now set the standard for event architecture – driving events like The Headies and AFRIFF. He was recently announced as a judge on the 4th season of Nigerian Idol. That is apart from his consistent MC gigs and his label incubating new stars. Yes, Darey is in power.
The handsome actor/director has paid his dues, starring in about 200 Nollywood productions. He recently turned to working behind the screen, setting up his Denziott studios and has his name attached to films like ‘Weekend getaway’, ‘Finding Mercy’ and the recently released ‘Apaye: Mother’s love’. The critics may have their reservations about his directing skills but audiences seem to reward his every effort with box-office success. Even a lukewarm supporting turn in ‘Finding Mercy’ was awarded a trophy at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA). And those who want to be stars certainly know who to suck up to.
Yes, Don Jazzy has lost a lot of his mystique, perhaps deliberately? Then he messed it up when he mixed it up with Wande Coal after the latter left Mavin Records. But here’s the deal – when everything is gone, it remains: no one cooks a track like this man. He proved it with Tiwa Savage’s ‘Eminado’, he proved it with that track Wande ran away with, and then he put paid to any doubt with Dr Sid’s ‘Surulere’. He also signed on 2 new acts Di’Ja and Reekado Banks and is set to unveil what many call the biggest headquarters of any Nigerian label yet. His clout remains on Twitter, and the endorsement deals have not stopped. Here is a man blessed by the gods.
The scion of a popular film-making family, Afolayan has with his last 3 features become the most exciting filmmaker working in Nollywood. The New York Times loves him, actors would give an arm and a leg to be cast in his productions and audiences flock to the cinemas for anything with his name on it. Afolayan recently completed work on his next project ‘October 1’, a murder mystery set in the heady days leading up to the nation’s big day in 1960. In an industry -or country- that values quality, Afolayan would have investors lining up to sponsor his next 2 projects but until then, we’ll just be content with seeing his name on our power lists.
Ekeinde may be mother to 4 lovely children but she still commands the box-office clout of a starlet in her prime. Her reality television show ‘The Real me’ became a television event, gifting host Channel, Africa Magic with ratings not seen since inception. Honored by Time magazine last year as part of the 100 most influential people in the world, Omosexy also lends her voice to dozens of advocacy campaigns among which are her youth empowerment initiative, Omotola Youth Empowerment Programme (OYEP), Amnesty International’s maternal mortality projects and oil spillage in the Niger Delta. She even finds time to send the blogs to hell for publishing pictures of her teenage daughter. The celebrity with the largest combined social media following in Nigeria, she gives new meaning to ‘superwoman’.
The brothers Okoye are so big, African presidents welcome them to their countries. They are so huge, even president Goodluck Jonathan invites them to fly with him (private jet style) to economic summits. They are so hot, Aliko Dangote attended the wedding of one of them. They perform sold out concerts across the world, party with A-listers Rick Ross and Akon and even after about 10 years in the business, every single they drop becomes a major hit. They are music royalty and they know it. And they flaunt it. And they don’t care what anyone thinks. Still, when they sneeze – well there goes your cold.
The former Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) winner for best actress starred in and produced last year’s biggest hit ‘The Meeting’ via her increasingly popular outfit The Audrey Silva Company (TASC) which she co-founded with partner/director Mildred Okwo. The kind folks at the AMVCAs even created a category just to reward her. TASC has become the go to place for talents looking for that big push and former television darlings, Femi Jacobs and Linda Ejiofor can attest to this. She is hard at work on a new television series ‘Tessa’s place’ as well as a feature film and can next be seen in Izuchukwu Ojukwu’s much delayed period piece ’76’. Said to be one of Nollywood’s biggest draws at the moment, everyone wants to be her, or at least be close by.
Where were we when Wizkid suddenly became a force to reckon with? The former tween heartthrob Wizkid is not even 25 yet but he has already amassed the kind of clout usually reserved for enduring stars. He is yet to release a sophomore album but churns out hit singles almost effortlessly. Last year he rebelled against the system that created him and demanded for greater control of his career and finances and guess what? He got it. He also set up his Starboy imprint and promptly signed up hit makers like Maleek Berry. The Channel O Music Video Awards considered his average-y video good enough to win best video in all of Africa and he continues to perform on all the important stages and concerts. If that isn’t power, we don’t know what else is.