Following unending question as to what Nigerian actors earn vis-a-vis their lifestyles, eelive.ng ’s AKINSETAN AKINRELE looks at some of the finest thespians around and what it costs filmmakers to engage them. The dynamics, notwithstanding, may vary the quoted figures below, but this report keeps in bracket the minimum artiste’s fee you are bound to pay to feature these A-list acts.
It may interest you that their professional demands also differ, some insist on earning royalties on films while others do not think the industry is developed enough to work efficient data for collection of royalty. Below is a cursory look at the list of Nigerian highest paid actors and what they earn per movie.
Richard Mofe-Damijo: By far a leading light of the Box Office, the 57-year-old actor is the most consistent as the highest paid act in Nollywood. Known by his showbiz moniker, RMD, he’s one of the few who would dare take a hiatus and return to claim a pride of place seamlessly and with demand for higher fees.
His political detour when he went to serve his native Delta State as Tourism Commissioner neither ended his career nor dimmed his star power. Impeccable sources told us that Mofe-Damijo charges between N6m- 8m for a movie role. He is also said to demand the payment of royalties when he deems fit.
His close allies insist he would only come down by one million Naira if he were in talks with a producer with whom he has had previous and smooth dealings with in the past. Without that, Mofe- Damijo would, according to sources stick to his guns until his demand has been met.
Some of the movies that the veteran actor who played the role of Segun Kadiri in late Amaka Igwe’s soar-away soap opera, Checkmate has starred in include: Out of Bounds, Diamond Ring, Hostages, Critical Decision, Critical Assignment, Glorified, Wedding Party 1&2, Three Wise Men, Engagement Night and many others.
Olu Jacobs: At 77, Mr. Oludotun Jacobs is one of Nigeria, if not Africa’s most highly revered actors. The story was told of how star-struck immigration officers in one of African’s countries stopped the unwarranted interrogation of several Nigerians who were on the same flight with Jacobs, the moment the veteran actor indicated that they were with him. It is therefore understandable that MR Jacobs costs every producer who desires to have him on his set between N2.5m and N3m.
Jacobs who trained at The Royal Arts Academy is perhaps the most international exposed actor on the Nigerian film circuit now having starred in many British Television series in the two decades between 1970 and 1990.
The actor, Olu Jacobs is reputed to have featured in hundreds of Nigerian movies namely; Adesua, Dry, Royal Hibiscus Hotel, The Third Eye, Play for Today, Ashanti, Pirates and Dogs of War.
Joke Silva: This 57-year-old dyed in the wool actor is one of those in the arts not for the lure of commerce but for her profound appreciation of this mode of expression. That notwithstanding, it will cost between N1.5m-N2.5 to feature Mama J, as she’s fondly called, in a movie.
A graduate of the University of Lagos and Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London, Joke Silva who has been married to the veteran Olu Jacobs for decades began a career in film in the early 1990s and in 1998 she had a major role opposite Colin Firth and Nia Long in the British-Canadian Film The Secret Laughter of Women. In 2006, she won “Best Actress in a Leading Role” at the 2nd Africa Movie Academy Awards for her performance in Women’s Cot, and “Best Actress in a Supporting Role” at the 4th Africa Movie Academy Awards in 2008 for her performance as a grandmother in White Waters.
Silva and her husband, Olu Jacobs founded and operate the Lufodo Group covering film production and distribution assets and the Lufodo Academy of Performing Arts, where she is Director of Studies. She is also the pioneering Managing Director of Malete Film Village, in association with Kwara State University.
She has starred in Keeping Faith, Kingmaker, A Past Came Calling A Husband’s Wife and Chief Daddy among many other great movies.
Genevieve Nnaji: After her career-defining moment with Netflix, which last year acquired her movie, Lionheart for an amount believed to run into eight figures, 39-year-old Nnaji’s professional worth as an actor got on a quantum leap.
No doubt, Nnaji, one of the leading amazons of the screen in Nigeria has always been expensive to hire, but she’s even a lot more expensive after this breakthrough. Sources told us that producers must be ready to part with between N5m and N7m to make her consider taking an acting role, since the success she made with her directorial debut, Lionheart has put her in another league.
Nnaji, who first faced the camera as a child of 8 is on record to be the first winner of the Africa Movie Academy Award, AMAA Best Actress in a Leading Role award in 2005.
In 2009, Genevieve made history by being the first Nigerian actress to be profiled on America’s The Oprah Winfrey Show where she was dubbed “Julia Roberts of Africa,” in recognition of the effectiveness with which she handles her art. She has also featured on the Cable News Network programme, African Voices. In 2011, Nnaji was honoured as a Member of the Order of the Federal Republic by the Nigerian government for her contribution to Nollywood.
She had starred in hundreds of movies including; Critical Decision, Tango with Me, Road to Yesterday, Blood Sisters, Ije, Half of a Yellow Sun, Silent Scandals, Doctor Bello, Girls’ Cot, Private Sin, and Passion and Pain among a long list of others.
Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde: Another much sought after actor, she must be one of those who didn’t stay long at the low rung of the ladder. Omo Sexy as she’s fondly called, has been a top earner for as long as one can remember. The 41-year-old mother of four charges between N3m-N4m with emphasis on other conditions she considers prerequisite to her comfort on set.
Since her Nollywood film debut in 1995, the leading actress has appeared in over 300 films, selling millions of video copies. After receiving numerous high-profile awards, launching a music career, and amassing an enviable fan base, the press has revered the Screen Nation “Best Actress” as the “African Magic”. She is the first African celebrity to attain over 1 million likes on her Facebook page
Jalade-Ekeinde has featured in an array of movies including; Under Fire, Venom of Justice, Kosorogun, Die Another Day, When Love Dies, Blood Sisters, Ties That Bind, Last Flight to Abuja, Games Women Play, Alter Ego, Private Storm and Amina among many others.
Rita Dominic: Without doubt one of the most prolific actors Africa can boast of currently is Imo State born Rita Dominic. She ranges amongst artistes with the highest rating in Nigeria. In 2011, 43-year-old Dominic played the lead role of Keziah Njema in Shattered, a Kenya made film directed by Gilbert Lukalia. The film earned her awards as Best Actress In a Leading Role at the 2012 editions of the Africa Movie Academy Awards, AMAA and the Kalasha Film Festival and Television Awards, Kenya. In 2012, Ms Dominic produced her first film, The Meeting alongside her business partner, Mildred Okwo who directed the movie. All of these in addition to her mesmeric role in the multiple award-winning film, ’76 have cumulative effects of raising the stakes for Rita Dominic whose fee is now put between N3m and N4m accompanied by a few other conditions that are determined by the circumstances surrounding the production at hand.
A 1999 graduate of Theatre Arts from the University of Port Harcourt, Dominic who is one of the most versatile artistes around has features in like: True Romance, Love After Love, Only Love, Queen of My Heart, Lean on Me, Wedding Fever, Back from America, Last Wedding, Lost Paradise, Accidental Discharge, Shattered and The Meeting to mention a few of the over well one hundred movies that bear her credit.
Mercy Johnson-Okojie: The current Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the Kogi State Governor on Entertainment, Arts and Culture is possibly the one with the most meteoritic rise in Nollywood. The first role she played in The Maid, the movie she was cast for immediately after her secondary education launched her into the league and seven years later in 2011, she was listed as Google’s most searched celebrity in Nigeria
Formerly known as Mercy Johnson, the 34-year-old mother of four packed a whole lot of effectiveness and commitment into her roles such that even now after marriage and children have slowed her down, she is still able to charge between N1.5m and N2.5m to take a role.
To her credit are movies like; The Maid, Dear Mama, Pay Day, Under the Sky, Dear Mama, Desperate Ladies, Genevieve, Thanks for Coming, Bloody Ring, Heart of a Widow, Sexy Girls, Beyond Desire and Clash of Twin.
Pete Edochie: Pete is one of the most talented actors on the continent, it would appear that this former broadcaster has been slowed down by age but even then, the 72-year-old’s current fee is put at between N2m and N2.5m alongside a consistent insistence on working conditions that suit his iconoclastic nature.
Edochie, who has kept his signature beards till date since the age of 23, became a junior programme assistant on radio at the age of 20. He came into national prominence in the 1980s when he played the role of Okonkwo in the Nigerian Television Authority’s adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.
A mark of the surefootedness of the veteran actor is his refusal to relocate from his home town to Lagos. This situation makes everyone who desires his expertise seek him out from the East. And to honour him for the immense promotion of culture and being the pride of Igbo, his statue stands tall in Enugu where he hails from. Greedy Genius, Living in Darkness, Rituals, Things Fall Apart, Last Ofalla, Lion throne, Lion of Africa, Igodo, Evil men, Monkey Chop Banana, Idemili, 50 days with Christ, The Egg and Lionheart are some of the movies that prove the prowess of this Member of the Order of the Niger (MON)
Patience Ozokwor: 60-year-old Patience Ozokwor is a Fine and Applied Arts graduate of the Institute of Management and Technology Enugu who has taken a liking to the arts since she was a child. Although a lot of filmmakers cast her with the stock characterisation of a wicked mother-in law, Ozokwor has over the years proved to be a very versatile actor with commendable comedic talents.
Otherwise known as ‘Mama G’ and said to be one of the warmest actors’ producers cherish working with. Ozokwor is also a musician, and fashion designer. She won the Best Supporting Actress award at the 10th Africa Movie Academy Awards. She was among the 100 Nigerians honoured by the government to celebrate the amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates in 2014.
The artiste’s charge is rather modest; it is put at between N2m-N2.5m. Her famous movies include; Submission, Mama G in London, Omugwo, Days of Tears and Wedding Party among many other enthralling movies.
Nkem Owoh: 60-year-old Nkem Owoh better known as Osuofia, has a peculiar comic touch that makes him one of the most prolific humour merchants in Nollywood. His enchanting flavour to his craft stands him tall above many others and this should explain why he charges between N3m-N4m to star in a movie.
Said to be an Engineering graduate of the University of Ilorin, Owoh’s breakthrough is mostly associated with the 2003 movie with the title Osuofia in London. Since then, there has been no looking back and audiences across to globe look forward to bouts of laughter that he dishes out each time he opens his mouth in film.
Nkem Owoh who has also done a bit of music in his career has starred loads of movies some of which are; Things Fall Apart, Ukwa, Stupid, Fake Doctor, A Fool at 40, Osuofia in London, Spanner, Ghana Must Go, Police Officer and Lion Heart.
John Okafor: Otherwise known as Mr. Ibu, John Okafor is the king of the dumb flavour of comedy in Nigeria. As that genre of comedy is one of the hardest to sustain, without doubt one of the funniest and most sought comic acts in Nollywood, the 58-year-old gets very busy on the location all year round because he’s spontaneous, hilarious and charges a modest fee of between N1.5m and N2m. He is a darling of filmgoers, which provides an incentive for producers to hire him. Some of the over 200 films that he is believed to have featured in include: Mr. Ibu, Mr. Ibu in London, Keziah, Police Recruits, and 9 Wives.
Sola Sobowale: Although more widely known for her role as an actor, 61-year-old actor is also a writer, producer and director. Having started out with an assortment of roles in the Awada Kerikeri Group that was founded and led by the late Ojo Ladipo and later Mr Adebayo Salami, Sobowale is one of the old hands who are not only still thriving but endowed with a lot of skills to bequeath on the fresh crop of professionals.
She has been so phenomenal in her career that at least two of the roles that she played with so much effectiveness have stuck till date. One of this is her role in Asewo to re Mecca, a production of the Awada Kerikeri group and Toyin Tomato in Wale Adenuga’s Super Story television series.
Sola Sobowale who currently earns between N1.5m and N2m for a role is an actor to the core and the same grace was what facilitated her big come-back to the industry after relocating abroad for almost ten years. She joined the league of top earners in English speaking movies after her spectacular performance in Mo Abudu’s Wedding Party 1&2, a production that opened a flood gate of opportunities wherein Nigerian filmmakers’ troop into the cinemas to see any film on which she is listed as cast member. Some of her works include; Dangerous Twins, Ohun Oko Somida, Family on Fire, The Wedding Party 1&2 and King of Boys and the upcoming Wale Adenuga film, Knockout.