Funke Akindele Bello has become a household name in the Nigerian entertainment scene. Slowly but steadily, Funke Akindele has created an image for herself as a Nollywood legend. The 42 year old actress started out as a child actor in the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) sponsored TV series, I Need To Know that aired on the National Television Authority (NTA) between 1998-2002.
Akindele, from Ikorodu, grew up in Lagos with her family. She studied Mass Communication in the Ogun State Polytechnic bagging an OND, after which she secured a law degree from the University of Lagos.
After her time at I Need To Know, Akindele found it difficult to land roles in spite of all her attempts. Funke sharing with Guardian Life had this to say about her struggles,
‘After ‘I Need To Know’, I didn’t get any more roles, I went down; I got back to attending auditions and lobbying, calling people and knocking on doors but none opened. I felt I had lost my chance.’
Funke Akindele veered into Yoruba movies full time, where she kicked off her acting career, gradually working her way up again in the industry, she appeared in Ojo Ketala, Akorede, Maami, Aja, Aje Meta, 1 and 2 Asiri Nla, and others. Jenifa the movie was created in 2008 featuring Funke Akindele as lead actor. The movie scored four nominations at the African Movie Academy Awards in 2008 and won Funke Akindele the Best Actress in a Leading role for her performance as Jenifa. She subsequently started the Jenifa’s Diary series in 2015 and that has changed the course of her career forever.
Through Jenifa’s Diary, Funke Akindele created a persona (Jenifa) that audiences could connect with. Her unrefined often hilarious experiences endear audiences to her. The Jenifa’s Diary series has seen a bunch of actors grace its screen at some point or the other. Banky W, Waje, Beverly Osu, Alex Ekubo, Ali Nuhu, Toke Makinwa, Amechi Mounagor, Wunmi Obe. Jenifa’s Diary has been successfully running for about five years now with fans always asking for more.
Speaking at the 4th edition of the Nigerian Entertainment Conference (NEC) held on April 20, 2016, at Landmark Event Centre, Oniru, Lagos, Funke shared her challenges launching Jenifa’s Diary, ‘When I started Jenifa’s Diary. I went to an agency, which I won’t mention. I thought they will be ready to do business with me because Jenifa to me was huge, but they asked me for my pilot.’
The Jenifa’s Diary series has been widely successful and has spurned a spinoff – Aiyetoro Town.
Funke transitioned from TV series into movies again with her appearance in Maami in 2011 which earned her a Nollywood Movie Award for Best Lead Actress in an Indigenous Language in 2013.
Funke Akindele is also CEO of Sceneone Productions, with her husband Abdul Resheed Bello, JJC Skillz whom she married in 2016.
Akindele has honed the ability to tell a story that is a balance of humour and seriousness at the same time. She has also featured in several movies where she gave stellar performances – A Trip To Jamaica, Moms At War, Chief Daddy and others. She recently made her directorial debut in the EbonyLife Film, Your Excellency, where she also made an appearance.
Funke Akindele has deployed her writing, producing and directing skills to amass several awards through the years.
- Best Actress Leading Role at Africa Movie Academy Awards 2009
- Best Actress at Nigerian Entertainment Awards 2009
- Best Actress at Nollywood Movies Awards 2012
- Best Actress (Indigenous) at Nollywood Movies Awards 2013
- Best Actress (Comedy) at Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards 2014
- Brand Ambassador of the Year at ELOY Awards 2014
- Best Actress (Leading Role) at Nigerian Entertainment Awards 2014
- Best Actress in Comedy at Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards 2016
- Best Actress of the Year at Africa Entertainment Legend Awards 2016
- Best Actress in Comedy Movies at Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Award 2017
- Best Lead Actress at Nigerian Entertainment Awards 2017
She is one of Nigeria’s most awarded actresses. She has appeared on TV and on the big screen. She has written scripts, acted, directed and produced and it seems like she’s just getting started.
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