Across the world, musicians have been known to delve regularly into the world of acting and filmmaking, with the likes of Toni Braxton, Whitney Houston and Usher among notable examples. Even more, stars like Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube Will Smith
Ludaris and 50 Cent are known to have featured in not just one or two but have made alternative careers out of it, with some of them now more known for their movies than music in the last decade.
In Nigeria, the situation is not so different,although the jury is still out regarding the motive that drives stars to take to the tube. In this piece, ADEDAYO ODULAJA took a look at some of the music stars who have been involved in acting in recent times.
Easily the leading candidate when a list of musicians regularly featured in movies is put together, Pasuma, born Wasiu Adetola Alabi has taken part in many movies in the Yoruba section of Nollywood.
Apart from the impressive numbers, the fact that Pasuma has been doing this for well over a decade, combining acting with his ever –thriving music career without much credit, underscores his outstanding talent.
With movies including Asiri, Oluwajomiloju, Iyanje 1 & 2, Awoko 1 & 2, Alenibare, Omo Shomolu among others to his credit, the Orobokibo master, who has done a lot of cleaning up of his brand and image in recent years, stands tall as a seamless operator between both lanes of the entertainment arena.
This explains why it was so easy for him top Yoruba movie stars for the shooting of his music video titled ‘Oruka’ back in 2015. The outdoor wedding shoot directed by top Nigerian music video director and CEO of Capital Dream Pictures, Clarence Peters, featured cameo appearances of popular acts including Fathia Balogun, Yinka Quadri, Adebayo Salami aka Oga Bello, Mide Funmi Martins, Toyin Afolayan (Lola Idije), Lanre Hassan (Iya Awero), Mama Ereko, Idowu Phillips (Iya Rainbow), Biodun Okeowo Sofuyi (Omo Butty), Sotayo, Yemi Sodimu, Ronke Ojo Anthony aka Oshodi Oke, Iyabo Ojo, Bimbo Thomas and several others.
Popular as the Alapomeji, 9ice who used to be signed to ID Cabasa’s Coded Tunes label, has featured in at least two movies. The first was titled Jejere and produced by actress, Laide Bakare and a recent effort from the stables of iconic TV series producer, Wale Adenuga titled Knockout.
While it can be said that his appearance in Jejere, released into the market around 2012, helped push the movie beyond measure especially against the backdrop of rumours that she was dating 9ice, whose star power was still utterly vibrant at the time, not much has happened to 9ice’s music career since then.
Another top Fuji music star who has given a lot to Nollywood featuring in Yoruba movies as well as a few TV shows, Obesere has pushed boundaries and shown himself as a talented actor as well.
The Ibadan, Oyo State-born star, who seems to have been blown away somewhat with the raging rivalry between Pasuma and Saheed Osupa, has done much to remain relevant on the movie scene.
He had roles in movies like Eni Eleni, Ero Sese Koowe, Ese Mefa Laye, Ose Maami, Ashiru Ejire, Onibara Ogunjo, Iku Oba, Igba Iwase, Agbeere Oju and Alukoro under his belt.
So much has been his involvement that the ace Fuji music star, whose given real name is Abass Akande, even produced a movie based on his rape scandal some years ago. The self-acclaimed paramount King of Fuji music spent a few weeks in Ikorodu, Lagos State, with a galaxy of stars to shoot the much anticipated flick.
According to him, he decided to turn the rape scandal story into a movie because he promised his fans and admirers that they would get to see the whole truth of the rape story through the movie. Titled Stop Sebe, the movie was produced by Adio Majester, and directed by Abbey Lanre with members of cast including Olaiya Igwe, Bayo Ogunde, Aishat Omoge Campus, Akin Olaiya, Lizzy Da Silva, Regina Chukwu, Adio Majester and Obesere himself among other movie stars.
Hugely influential on the Fuji music scene, Malaika is another Fuji music powerhouse who has also dedicated ample time and resources to Nollywood. The man born as Sulaimon Alao Adekunle, has featured in a number of movies including Khadijat and Omo Shomolu.
Malaika, widely travelled and popular among the ladies of the Yoruba movie setting, has been in and out of movie sets in parts of Lagos State and occasionally, out of the state during movie productions.
Reminisce & IllBliss
Known as bars-spitting firebrands, many fans didn’t expect to see either Reminisce or IllBliss in movies but then the glass-ceiling shattering movie director, Kemi Adetiba, came on the scene and turned them into actors.
Featuring both rappers, Reminisce whose real name is Remilekun Abdulkalid Safaru and Tochukwu Melvin Ejiofor, better known as illBliss, in King of Boys, is one of the reasons that made the movie tick most of the spots movie lovers look for in a Nigerian movie.
Explosive, fierce and full of blinding twists and turns, King of Boys will always be a memorable debut for the rappers whenever they look back on their Nollywood debut.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to put Banky W into a box these days, with the man known as a music star, record label executive, music video director, actor as well as politician.
Now married to Adesua Etomi, whom he met on the set of Wedding Party, which was to later become a two-part movie, Banky W has turned featuring in the Mo Abudu-produced movie into the opportunity of an acting career.
And having starred in The Wedding Party 2, for which many Nigerians seem not so impressed, and Up North, another movie that delighted Nigerians to great length, Banky W is also getting called up for roles.
For those who know, it is not a sudden turn for the “Lagos Party” singer. Despite doing well on the music scene and with a number of promising acts including Wizkid, Skales, Niyola, Shaydee part of the Empire Mates Entertainment he led at the time, Banky, born Olubankole Wellington, deemed it fit to travel to film school.
Once he came back, he was ready to start competing for music video gigs as well as music but then acting happened.
While the appeal of acting and everything that has to do with Nollywood is strong, especially as the all-round music man noted recently that he has always seen himself as an actor, he said there is no chance he will quit music for acting.
In a chat with Punch, he said: “While I really love Wedding Party 1, I feel there were things I could have improved on. It is the same thing with the second part; I watch the movie and I look for my mistakes. I have not even started to watch the film yet; instead, I am looking for where I made mistakes. That is just the way that I am as an entertainer and performer.
“People who know me well know that I am a very ambitious person; I am ambitious to a fault and I feel like I can do anything. I dream big and I would literally work my fingers to the bone, so I have no plans to rob my fans of my music.
According to him, a huge part of him has always aligned with movies and visuals.
“Anybody that has paid attention to my music videos would know that I have had this flirtatious love affair with the movie-making business because most of my videos are short films.
“I tend to tell stories with my music videos because I have always been a storyteller. In fact, from my younger days, I always considered myself as a writer before I saw myself as a singer or an actor. In that sense, watching myself on the screen was not much of a surprise because I have been flirting with it for a long time.
“I try to be my biggest critic and I consider myself as such. That is how I am about my music and businesses.
“I feel that the day you are satisfied with your performance and job, it is the beginning of the end because you would start to become complacent. I am always harsh on myself. So, even people think I have done a good job; I try to look at the one area that I can improve on.
“My music career is still going on and I cannot quit it for acting,” he added.
Long before Sound Sultan released Jagbajantis, his unforgettable song and well-choreographed accompanying music video and became a music star, he had starred in a few scenes of at least two movies shot by legendary Nigerian filmmaker, Tunde Kelani.
One of these is The Campus Queen, a 2004 Nollywood musical that was directed by Tunde Kelani with production from Mainframe Films and Television Productions. The film, which premiered at the 2004 edition of the African Film Festival in New York City, United States, was also the official film selection at the Black Film Festival in Cameroon.
Starring the likes of Jide Kosoko, Lere Paimo, Segun Adefila, Sound Sultan, Khabirat Kafidipe, Hafiz Oyetoro, Serah Mbaka, Akinwunmi Isola among others, the film was accompanied with lots of music, dance and activism, thus depicting the lifestyle of students in university campuses and also highlights the urge for power and supremacy by student clubs.
The soundtrack of the song, of the same title but released as a song on its own, featured Sound Sultan, Eldee tha Don and Faze.
Sound Sultan, whose real name is Lanre Fasasi, has not been so active but he didn’t abandon his acting career altogether, featuring in the star-studded movie production, Head Gone produced by his elder brother, Dare Fasasi better known as Baba Dee, in 2014.
Singer, Simi, who just announced her departure from her record label, X3M Music, after five years, made her Nollywood debut in the forthcoming film by award-winning director and producer, Kunle Afolyan, titled Mokalik.
The riveting film, which is based on a day in the life of Jaiye, an 11-year-old boy, who is sent by his middle-class parents to work at a mechanic workshop in order to give him a different perspective on life, has Simi playing the role of the daughter of one of the two buka owners in the mechanic workshop complex.
Described by Afolayan as one of the Mokalik’s main stars, Simi, who plays a character also named Simi, is a young woman that the younger Jaiye inadvertently develops a crush on. Already big on the scene in terms of her narrative-driven music videos, Simi appeared as a natural through the shooting of the movie.
Afolayan, who came upon Mokalik from a personal experience, the son of late filmmaker, Ade Love, agrees, noting in a chat with Saturday Telegraph that Simi is a natural who took to acting easily.
Seyi Shay & Vector
Like other music stars, Seyi Shay and rapper, Vector, jumped into the Nollywood fray not long ago through a movie titled Lara and the Beat produced by Biola Alabi Media.
The two music stars, who described their experiences on set as grand, spoke of the chemistry between them on set while noting their new-found respect for actors and filmmakers on account of the intensity of the process of filmmaking.
The “African Queen” crooner who is widely considered a leading presence in his generation, also acted in Head Gone, shot in 2014 as well as Ivie Okujaye-produced dance-themed movie, Make a Move along with notable actors like Majid Michel, Omawunai Megbele, Tina Mba, Wale Adebayo and Beverky Naya among others.
2Face, who was not so convincing in his role in Dare Fasasi-produced Head Gone, has also had a movie titled Power of 1 partly dedicated to his story of grass to grace as a music superstar.
Another member of the now defunct Plantashun Boiz, Faze, whose real name is Chibuzor Orji, featured in Alero’s Symphony, a 2011 Nigerian musical drama film directed by Izu Ojukwu and starring Bimbo Manuel, Ivie Okujaye and others.
The film, an upshot of the Amstel Malta Box Office five reality show, received 4 nominations at the 8th Africa Movie Academy Awards and was screened across major Nigerian cities by the Africa Film Academy.
It tells the story of Alero (Ivie Okujaye) who is a twin and born into a reputable high-class family. She is due for Law School after graduating from the university with honours. Unknown to her parents her real desire is to be in studio and record songs. The family decides to go on a vacation to re-ignite the bond among them. On the island, Alero meets Lovechild (Faze), who happens to be a talented but poor waiter.
Lovechild assists Alero in doing what she loves to do best professionally then they fall in love, giving vent to the stylish dénouement the director finds for the tale.