The Nigerian film industry has come a long way. But while it’s easy to get lost in the bubble of mainstream Nollywood, the indigenous sub-industries — Kannywood, Callywood and Yoruba-language cinema — have grown in leaps and bound.

We’re spotlighting Kannywood and some of its rare jewels; these ones will eat their roles and leave no crumbs. 

Rahama Sadau

Source: Instagram (@rahamasadau)

With a number of big-budget productions to her name, Sadau easily holds her own as a Nollywood favourite from the north. She started off in Kannywood in 2013, before crossing into mainstream Nollywood with Ebonylife’s Sons of the Caliphate in 2016, and cementing her place as a star performer. Catch Sadau’s delivery in movies like UpNorth, Chief Daddy 1 & 2, Tatu, among others.

Abubakar Bashir Maishida

8 Kannywood Stars Who Totally Deserve Our Attention

Source: Instagram (@realabmaishadda)

Often dubbed the King of Kannywood box office, Maishida is one deserving of accolades when it comes to the business of moviemaking up north. An actor and producer, he has two AMVCA nods to his credit — Best Indigenous Language, Hausa (Movie/TV series) in 2015 and 2023. Some of his notable works include Aisha, Binkice and Hauwa Kulu.

Hafsat Ahmad Idris

Source: Instagram (@official_hafsaidris20)

A Kano-state indigene born and raised in Shagamu, Ogun, Hafsat is your definition of flaming hot talent that strikes whenever she’s served. The 36-year-old Kannywood star has climbed her way up the ladder since her first appearance in Barauniya (2015). Now, she commands her own production company, Ramlat Investment, and you’ll catch her in movies like Mata Da Miji, Kawaye and Dr Surayya.

Ali Nuhu

8 Kannywood Stars Who Totally Deserve Our Attention

Source: Instagram (@realalinuhu)

No doubt one of Nigeria’s most enterprising actors, Ali Nuhu’s seamless camaraderie with Nollywood and Kannywood has positioned him as a leading man in both industries. He’s shattered glass ceilings and proved that he’s not one to be placed in a box. Experience Nuhu’s magic in productions like Hakkunde, Al Majiri and Last Flight to Abuja


Yakub Mohammed

8 Kannywood Stars Who Totally Deserve Our Attention

Source: Instagram (@yakubmohammed)

If Banky W and Ikechukwu’s seamless transition from music to movies held you spellbound, then grab a seat because Mohammed did it too. The Bauchi-born singer became an onscreen fav following his appearance in Ebonylife’s hit-series, Sons of the Caliphate. Mohammad still holds things down music-wise, but if you want to see him in action, you should watch Amina, 4th Republic and Maimuna.

Jamila Umar Nagudu

8 Kannywood Stars Who Totally Deserve Our Attention

Source: Instagram (@realjamilaumar)

Jamila Nagudu is a rolling ball of flaming hot talent; the raw, undiluted delivery you’ll get from household names like Mercy Johnson and Funke Akindele. You should watch Nagudu: Barauniya, Jummala and Idon Birni. If nothing else, an endorsement from telecoms powerhouse, Globalcom, should tell you this Kannywood queen is the real deal.

Sani Danja

Source: Instagram (@realsanidanja)

A singer, dancer, actor and producer, Sani Danja is a jack of all trades and one of the leading men in Kannywood. Like colleagues, Nuhu and Sadau, he’s managed to make his mark as an all-round performer in Kannywood and Nollywood. Since his debut appearance in the 2012 film, Daughter of the River, it’s been an upward spiral, and we love it for him. You’ll find him in movies like Kawaye, Coming From Insanity and Amina.

Maryam Booth

Source: Instagram  (@officialmaryambooth)

Think of the Edochie and Adebayo families of Nollywood, and you’ll get a clear picture of the Booth family’s standing in Kannywood. Maryam is the daughter of late veteran actress, Zainab Booth, and she effortlessly carries on the grace her mother held on screen. She made her debut in Ali Nuhu’s movie, Dijangala, and has gone on to feature in several other productions. In her latest, The Two Aishas, her character goes against colleague, Rahama Sadau’s.


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