It’s become a norm for Nigerians to juggle their 9-5 with a side gig. The economy moves funny, and if you want to secure your spot among the 1% of the 1%, you’ll need more than one job. You may even need seven.

These seven Nollywood gems understand this and have diversified way beyond their first job, dabbling into all aspects of filmmaking, running their own business empires and even entering politics.

Funke Akindele

Source: Instagram/@funkejenifaakindele

When she isn’t in front of the cameras, you’ll find the comedic actress putting on her director cap. Akindele made her directorial debut in 2019 while working on Ebonylife’s political comedy, Your Excellency. The movie would go on to gross over ₦186m, inspiring her to direct her second film in 2020. She co-directed Omo Ghetto: The Saga with her ex-husband, JJC Skillz, and it grossed over ₦630m, cementing Akindele’s place as a movie director to look out for. Some of her self-directed titles include Battle on Buka Street and the upcoming A Tribe Called Judah.

Desmond Elliot

Source: Instagram/@desmondelliot

The OG actor and director proved he could do a lot more than bring scripts and characters to life after he launched his political career in 2014 and declared his intentions to run for the Lagos State House of Assembly (HOA) under the All Progressives Congress (APC) party.

Elliot emerged the winner of the elections in April 2015 and went on to represent the Surulere constituency in the HOA. He won a second term in the 2019 general elections and won the seat again in the 2023 general elections.

Although consumed by the demands of representing his constituency, the actor still makes the time to appear in Nollywood movie productions. His last directorial effort was the 2022 film, Twice Shy.

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Genevieve Nnaji

Source: Instagram/@genevievennaji

When you’ve been a screen goddess with acting experience that spans over two decades, it makes total sense that your directorial debut will shatter records and even be involved in the OSCAR conversation.

Genevieve wore double hats in the 2018 film, Lionheart, acting the lead and directing. Although originally considered for an Academy Award nomination for the International Film Category, the movie was later disqualified over the use of the English language.

Five years later, the actress is showing up and showing off again as co-executive producer on the film adaptation of Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani’s award-winning debut novel, I Do Not Come To You By Chance.

Mo Abudu

Source: Instagram/@moabudu

The OG queen of talk shows in Africa has since been behind some of the biggest films in Nollywood, but it wasn’t until recently that she showed yet another side to her. In 2019, she launched The Ebonylife Place, a lifestyle and entertainment resort with a cinema, hotel and restaurant. She also partnered with the Lagos State Government in 2020 to launch a film school, The Ebonylife Creative Academy.

In August 2022, Abudu announced in an Instagram post that she was set to take her spot on the director’s chair with two short films: “Directing is an art form that takes years to master, so I’m beginning with baby steps and we started shoot today. I have written two short films that I will be directing – HER PERFECT LIFE and IYAWO MI (My Wife), a predominantly Yoruba language film”.

Iyawo Mi premiered at the Cannes Film Festival’s Short Film Corner in May 2023.

Ramsey Nouah

Source: Instagram/@ramseynouah

Another OG screen god made his directorial debut in 2019 with Living in Bondage: Breaking Free, a sequel to the 1992 hit classic, Living in Bondage. The movie’s reception and impressive box office numbers became pointers to the fact Nouah can act his ass out as well as he can direct.

He took on another ambitious directing project with Rattlesnake: The Ahanna Story (2020) and directed his third major blockbuster, Tokunboh, set to release later this year.

Tonto Dikeh

Source: Instagram/@tontolet

The actress has taken a noticeable break from Nollywood but made a brief return in 2021, for the Tchidi Chekere-directed movie, Beggar’s Children.

In June 2022, she emerged as the running mate of Tonte Ibraye, the 2023 governorship candidate of the African Democratic Party (ADC) in Rivers State. However, in March 2023, the actress and her running mate stepped down for the All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate, Tonye Cole.

These days, she’s focused on charity work through her foundation, Tonto Dikeh Foundation, and doubles as Director of Socials, Committee of Youth on Mobilization and Sensitization.

Omoni Oboli

Source: Tribuneonline

If there’s one Nollywood actress known to wear multiple hats at once, she is HER. Omoni Oboli is a producer, scriptwriter and director. She made her directorial debut in 2014 with Being Mrs Elliot, and has gone on to direct other titles like The First Lady (2015), Okafor’s Law (2016) and Wives on Strike (2016).

But that’s not all there is to the thespian. Outside of the entertainment scene, she works as a success coach and runs her own health and wellness business. 

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