It is not a new thing to see someone who typically delivers radio-friendly jams suddenly pop up on the big (or small) screen — just think Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Lopez and many others.
Musician or actor… why choose only one when you can dominate both? This is clearly what artists like Banky W, Falz and more had in mind when they made a shift in their career, successfully adding actor to their list of talents.
While it was a lot more common for actors in Nigeria to take a stab at music, fail and return to their day job (cue Tonto Dikeh’s awful attempt at house music), there is a growing amount of Nigerian musicians who are shining in Nollywood — landing juicy roles and even winning prestigious awards.
Granted, most of them only nab brief cameos or supporting roles, like we saw with Tiwa Savage’s in Jenifa’s Diary and season 3 of MTV Shuga; Omawunmi’s brief turn in The Return Of Jenifa, where she very convincingly played one of the campus bullies; or Waje as a mistress in Tunnel.
For this list, however, we’ll be focusing on musicians-turned-actors who’ve actually landed lead roles or completely stolen the show with their supporting performances.
Chidinma hit jackpot with her acting debut, playing the lead in the Kunle Afolayan-directed romance, The Bridge. The movie follows the woes Stella (Chidinma) faces as she elopes with her Yoruba prince, against the wishes of each of their tribalistic families.
Given that this was her first go, we’re not sure what else we’ll be seeing her in, but she certainly has a foot in the door and we’re looking forward to seeing more from her.
We saw Banky W as the lead in Nollywood’s most successful movie, The Wedding Party, and given that this was his first crack at it, he did a fantastic job playing the likable groom, Dozie Onwuka.
His music videos have always had a bit of a storyline to them, which saw him acting a little bit, so perhaps he was prepping us for his acting career all this while. Well, we hope we’ll get to see him in more films and maybe TV shows, given how good he was in The Wedding Party. It would be a shame to see all that acting talent go to waste.
Everyone knows and loves Falz’ music, but in the past year, he’s successfully launched his Nollywood career — even managing to score an AMVCA (for his role as Sege in Jenifa’s Diaries).
Falz has managed to juggle both his music career and his acting career so well that he even merges the two sometimes, which we saw in his documentary, Falz Experience, The Movie. Now, he has even managed to cross over into Hollywood, as he recently landed a role in an upcoming television series produced by BLK Prime.
We haven’t heard a lot from Ikechukwu in terms of music in a very long time, and we’re not really mad because he’s a very promising act on the Nollywood scene.
He first got our attention in Gbomo Gbomo Express, where he played a has-been musician who got dropped from his record label. While this didn’t really launch his acting career, his performance as the troublesome groomsman in The Wedding Party certainly did.
Which is why we are hoping that the blossoming relationship between his character and Somkele Iyamah’s character take centre stage in the inevitable The Wedding Party 3.
Seyi Shay & Vector
Like we saw with Beyoncé in Carmen: A Hip Hopera and also Dream Girls, it makes perfect sense for musician-turned-actors to start out with a musical. This is what we’re seeing with Seyi Shay and Vector’s big screen debut, Lara And The Beat.
These two have come into this scene with a bang, as we don’t get that many musicals in Nigeria, and so their performances will definitely be making a mark in the industry. From the trailer, we already have faith in the movie and can’t wait for it to come out this July.