For the seventh consecutive year, YNaija brings you its annual ranking of the most powerful young persons under the age of 40 who are getting things done in entertainment. From singers taking indigenous sounds to the other side, to movie stars attempting a third act, these are the 10 that matter the most.
As the daughter of media mogul, Mo Abudu, it might be tempting to dismiss Temi Abudu as mommy’s little girl but that wouldn’t account for the fact that Abudu has put the advantage of her genes into making a fast growing profitable body of work. For a spell, Abudu has been producing On the Real, the EbonyLife TV series that has made stars out of Ini Dima Okojie and Akah Nnani. This year, Abudu’s mettle at the box office is sure to be tested mightily with the all-star, Chief Daddy, EbonyLife Film’s big December hopeful which she produces.
With the debut of Tinsel– ages ago it would seem M-Net reimagined television content for viewers starving for quality content. It would be impossible to imagine M-Net’s television onslaught without the talents of the formidable Tunde Aladese. Beyond Tinsel which she eventually left as the head writer, Aladese has worked on audience favourites, Hotel Majestic, Jemeji and Ajoche where she currently heads the writer’s room. As an actress, Aladese played lead in Kenneth Gyang’s 2017 film, The Lost Café and can be seen in Hello, Rain the latest short by director C.J Obasi.
Nigeria’s favourite rich kid, Davido may not yet be selling out London’s Royal Albert Hall but he’s making moves that are equally as effective. From sold out tours across Africa and South America to marketing a potentially volatile romantic relationship as #CoupleGoals via social media trends and a mega-hit song, Davido has had a pretty eventful year. Davido took a deep dive into political waters by throwing his considerable influence behind his Senator uncle’s unsuccessful governorship bid. This, while serving his country as a youth corper. If that isn’t power, we don’t know what else is.
Folarin Falana a.k.a. Falz has become the most talked about rapper of the year for going against the grain and taking a splash in socially conscious and politically charged waters. His This is Nigeria, a thoroughly timely Childish Gambino reimagining painted a broad picture of contemporary Nigerian society and sparked several conversations worldwide. Falz proved his social media bonafides by launching the viral Sweet Boy Association (SBA) campaign around his new single and made out time to star in AY’s box office juggernaut, Merry Men.
Kenneth Gyang may not make the big box office hits – his last feature length, the immigrant romance fantasy, The Lost Café didn’t even make it to local cinemas – but starting with the AMAA winning Confusion Na Wa, released back in 2013, Gyang has been the de facto leader of a new wave of independent young filmmakers armed with foreign credentials, flashier skills, looking to redefine the idea of the Nollywood films. Gyang’s work has inspired bold attempts from Abba T. Makama (Green White Green), Emma Edosio (Kasala) and the Surreal 16 collective.
Screen queen, Genevieve Nnaji was once certified by Oprah as Africa’s Julia Roberts. That is so yesterday. Since her international (sort of) breakthrough, Nnaji has gone on to make her debut as a producer with 2015’s arthouse drama, Road to Yesterday. This year she made her biggest power moves yet by rolling out LIONHEART, her directorial debut at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and scoring a record making, first of its kind distribution deal with content giant, Netflix.
Chinedu “Chin’’ Okeke
As founder of Eclipse West Africa (holding company for Eclipse Brand Agency and Eclipse Live Africa) which he manages directly, Chinedu Okeke’s mission is to deliver live entertainment experiences that aim for high standards. Okeke and his team leverage on creativity, audience engagement, celebrity and technology to deliver cultural highlights like the Gidi Culture Fest which was headlined by Wizkid in its fifth year. Okeke and his team have also worked with Simi and Maleek Berry to delivered live solo concerts. His influence in the entertainment scene is such that there is hardly any concert at the Hard Rock Cafe that he is not a part of. Okeke has also collaborated with the Nigerian arm of global music giant Universal Music Group on past projects and continues to offer his expertise and experience to the industry at large.
The genius and importance of Olamide cannot be dismissed as myth, not when they have been manifested severally, in the life-changing careers of Adekunle Gold, Lil Kesh and even his own kin, DJ Enimoney. Olamide recently signed up Picazo and Yomi Blaze, two budding rappers whose wild talents were first noticed on the internet. Fresh off his attempt at selling out a stadium, Olamide defined 2018 with shaku shaku, the dance trend still sweeping the country and he has maintained his hot streak of pushing out one album annually for about seven years now.
Naz Onuzo has proved that the confluence of big finance and blockbuster films – at least by Nigerian standards is inevitable if Nollywood is going to make serious progress. A creative – he has penned screenplays for both The Wedding Party films, My Wife & I and New Money – and executive – he has had a hand in producing all these films. Onuzo’s success is based on strategies like collaboration, star baiting and relentless marketing. Apart from his work with Inkblot, Onuzo is vice president at African Capital Alliance.
There’s plenty to be upset about Wizkid these days – the Coachella no-show, homophobia, baby mama drama – but there is also plenty to inspire. Fresh from a Hot 100 number one achievement on Drake’s One Dance, Wizkid has continued to lead the aggressive growth of Afrobeats onto the world stage. Wizkid doesn’t just sell out the Royal Albert Hall, he has friends in high places too. He hangs out with Diddy, rolls up at events with the Naomi Campbell and has Tiwa Savage staying sexy for daddy.