There’s a new era of TV and movie stars in Nigeria, and we’re totally here for it. 

Nollywood has had multiple generations of stars and fans over the years. 1990s Nollywood introduced us to OGs like Saint Obi, Susan Patrick and Regina Askia. We fell in love with RMD, Genevieve Nnaji and Omotola Jalade Ekeinde in the early 2000s. We copied fashion trends from Ini Edo, Jim Iyke and Rita Dominic in the mid-2000s. And unlocked box office magic in the 2010s with the help of Adesua Etomi, Deyemi Okanlawon and Somkele Iyamah. 

Source: Premium Times
Source: EbonyLife Films

But with streaming and international projects quickly becoming the norm, a new crop of bankable stars is set to join the OGs. Read this list and learn their names because there’s a strong chance they’ll be on your screens for a long time. 

Tobi Bakre 

Source: Amazon Prime Video

If there’s one Big Brother alum who’s been able to beat the “can’t act” allegations, it’s Tobi Bakre. At a time when Nollywood struggled to find leading men capable of selling movies with their charisma and looks, Tobi came in and also decided to embark on the herculean task of carrying the industry’s action genre on his back. 

While films like Sugar Rush and Rattlesnake ignited that spark in Tobi’s audience, his deadly collaborations with Jade Osiberu in Brotherhood and Gangs of Lagos solidified his position as one of the biggest stars of our generation. 

Genoveva Umeh 

Source: Netflix

Genoveva Umeh was inescapable in 2022. Between a major standoff against Kate Henshaw in the EbonyLife Thelma and Louise-inspired thriller Blood Sisters and her shippable moments with Natse Jemide on Far From Home, Genoveva was lowkey the queen of streaming last year. 

With her current role on the new season of MTV Shuga and an appearance in the upcoming Amazon Prime original film, Breath of Life, opposite Wale Ojo and Eku Edewor, it looks like Genoveva will be around for a long time. But I don’t think anyone is complaining. 

Chimezie Imo

Source: Netflix

Chimezie Imo is one of the few actors Nollywood doesn’t deserve but desperately needs. Whether he’s playing a troubled or thrill-seeking teen in coming-of-age films like Nimbe and Kasala, or the lead in a psychological thriller like Choke, Chimezie always eats, proving that he’s criminally underrated and incredibly talented. 

With Chimezie, you never know what to expect. But that’s what you get from an actor whose range could either keep you at the edge of your seat or leave you in a puddle of tears. Look out for the actor in Breath of Life, Amazon Prime’s upcoming drama co-starring Genoveva Umeh and Wale Ojo. 

Uzoamaka Aniunoh 

Source: The Culture Mix

You might want to remember this name because this actress will have an incredible 2023 (and a long career, to be honest). After capturing our attention with her performance in shows like MTV Shuga and Africa Magic’s Venge, Uzoamaka has grown into one of Nollywood’s biggest rising stars, with a starring role on Showmax’s Diiche, the recent Domitilla reboot, Dika Ofoma’s upcoming short, A Quiet Monday, and Mami Wata, the CJ Obasi-directed fantasy drama

Outside of acting, Uzoamaka is also an acclaimed director, with her short film, Love Language

, set to reach audiences in 2023. 

Demi Banwo 

Source: YouTube

Demi Banwo has probably been in every Nollywood project you’ve seen. From indie projects, like Abba T Makama’s The Lost Okoroshi and Damilola Orimogunje’s For Maria, to blockbusters like Niyi Akinmolayan’s Chief Daddy and Jade Osiberu’s Gangs of Lagos (which he also executive produced), Demi’s impressive resumé is indicative of an actor willing to elevate whatever role he’s given, no matter how small. 

Demi is set to step into the leading man ring sometime in 2023 with TOSOB (we need someone to decipher this title), the boxing drama that’ll have him facing off against Tobi Bakre. 

RECOMMENDED: How Damilola Orimogunje and Meg Otanwa Made “For Maria”, a Nollywood Game Changer

Teniola Aladese 

Source: Showmax

There’s a scene from the first season of the AMVCA award-winning show, Ricordi, where Teniola Aladese’s character, Adesoye, gets involved in a confrontation that leaves the audience heartbroken. What could’ve easily turned into a melodramatic scene becomes a gut-wrenching moment for the audience thanks to Teniola’s nuanced performance. The actress has brought this captivating presence to a wide range of film and television projects over the past few years. 

Jammal Ibrahim 

Source: Showmax

Nollywood action stars don’t just exist in film; they exist on TV shows too. And Jammal Ibrahim is one actor who has the genre in his hands. The Crime and Justice: Lagos actor has proven he’s a double threat on screen, pulling physical and emotional punches in his role as Detective Danladi. With Nollywood finally taking a break from rom-coms to focus on action projects, Jammal is quickly working his way to becoming the bad-ass action star we didn’t know we needed. 

Olarotimi Fakunle 

Source: Amazon Prime Video

Gangs of Lagos might’ve been the Tobi Bakre show. Still, there’s no way anyone who saw Jade Osiberu’s Amazon Prime debut didn’t turn off their screens thinking about Olarotimi Fakunle’s performance as Kazeem, AKA Eleniyan. The nuance and depth Olakunle brought to his role as Kazeem helped audiences connect to a man who just wants to be seen, despite all his unhinged acts. 

It’s easy to play a villain audiences can hate, but over time I’ve come to understand that the best villains are the ones audiences can understand or relate to (this is why people still mess with Thanos and Namor to this day). 

Paul Nnadiekwe

Source: NdaniTV

Paul Nnadiekwe’s big Nollywood moment came with in 2022 with his lead role as Ayo in the NdaniTV underrated gem, Schooled. While it looks like Nollywood hasn’t utilised his talents as they should, everything is about to change for the charismatic actor, with leading roles in Everything Scatter, Jade Osiberu’s follow-up to Gangs of Lagos, and Ahamefuna, Kayode Kasum’s upcoming Igbo apprenticeship drama. 

Onyinye Odokoro

Source: YouTube

Onyinye Odokoro is more than a Nollywood star; she’s a global superstar. From her role in Dika Ofoma’s nuanced story of letting go, A Japa Tale, to Africa Magic’s Dilemma and the British Sky Original show, Unwanted, Onyinye has captured audiences across continents with her incredible talent. With 2022 already marking a pivotal moment in her career and 2023 kicking off with her lead role in the Domitilla reboot, Onyinye seems poised to rule the screen for a long time. 

ALSO READ: 7 Brilliant Nollywood Short Films That Need to Be on Your 2023 Watchlist



Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.