Nollywood lost some of its notable players in 2021. Death dealt a blow on the industry and got tears flowing freely in 2021. The spotlight is on some notable players in the industry that will be missing in action in the New Year.
Folake Aremu aka Orisabumni
Death snatched veteran actress Folake Aremu aka Orisabunmi in 2021. The fiery screen goddess who rode into prominence in the 80’s playing Orisabunmi in a TV series ‘Arelu’ reportedly died at her Ibadan, Oyo state residence late on January 5. Aged 61, the actress was buried on January 28 in her home town Olla in Kwara state. An actress of vast credit, Folake earned the alias Orisabunmi after she delightfully interpreted the role of a pacifying priestess Orisabunmi in a 1987 TV series ‘Arelu’ produced by her former husband Jimoh Aliu who passed on in October 2019. She was later to feature as the priestess Orisabunmi in most stage and screen production of the 90’s. Star of critically acclaimed films such as Yanponyarin and Fopomoyo the veteran actress will be remembered for her inimitable role interpretation and for her chants and oratory.
Death dealt a blow on the industry when it snatched notable actress Rachel Oniga. Tears and tributes flowed freely when news broke on July 30 that the veteran actress Rachel Oniga had passed on. Online news sources said the actress, clearly one of the queen mothers of Nollywood died of Covid-19. But family sources confirmed that the mother and grandmother died of heart related disease. An actor’s actor of vast credit, Oniga’s strength as an actress in Nollywood is in her ability to act both in Yoruba and English language movies, a reason she was described freely as a cross over actress. A native of Eku in Delta state and recipient of several industry awards including the Best Yoruba actress by the organizers of the THEMA awards in 1998, Oniga would be remembered for her beatific performances in movies such asx ‘Take Me to Mama’, ‘Onome’, ‘Owo Blow’, ‘My Mothers Pregnancy’, ‘Big Time Chick’, ‘Kada River’, ‘Lady in the Forest’ and ‘Naija Christmas’ as directed by Kunle Afolayan for Netflix.
Light dimmed on one of Nollywood’s most sought after actors of the 90’s and 2000s Ernest Asuzu in 2021. Tributes flowed for the actor whom producers made their first choice for an actor who could delightfully live the role of a lover boy or a mean fellow in a crime movie. For most fans of Nollywood movies, a crime, adventure or love story was not complete without Ernest Asuzu. His deft handling of crime and romantic roles earned him the sobriquet ‘Original Bad Boy’ and made him a darling of the movie crowd. But the multitalented actor and singer has passed on. Aged 43, Ernest who hails from Imo state, grew up in Lagos. He had his early education in Lagos and joined the movie industry in 1997. His first appearance in a movie was in ‘Dirty Game’. It took Asuzu’s performance in ‘Dirty Game’ and a few others after it such as ‘My Guy’, ‘Chain Reaction’ and Teco Benson’s ‘Broad Day Light’ for Asuzu’s talent to become noticeable. Another pronounced performance in Teco Benson’s ‘Formidable Force’ and other movies such as ‘Passionate Soul’, ‘Another Campus Tale’ and ‘Power of Trust’ earned Asuzu a comfortable listing on the unofficial list of recognizable and A-list actors. Star of a number of Yoruba language movies including ‘Ogidan’ and ‘Ago Kan Oru’, Asuzu later veered full time into music production and launched a 7-tracker album in November 2020 titled ‘The Truth’. Asuzu reportedly declared at the launch that he was back, better and stronger and was set to make a loaded comeback to the movie turf. But that will no longer be as light has dimmed on the beloved Nollywood actor who will be remembered for his stunning run in movies such as ‘My Guy’, ‘Power of Trust’, ‘Last Wedding’, and ‘Broad Daylight’.
Nollywood was thrown into deep mourning when news broke that Tinsel Actor Victor Olaotan has taken the final curtain call. The actor who was bedridden following a ghastly motor accident he had nearly five years ago passed on in October. An actor’s actor of vast credit who for about seven years breathed real life into the character of Fred Ade Williams on the Mnet flagship soap ‘Tinsel’, Victor who was born in Lagos in the early 50’s studied drama at the University of Ibadan, at the Obafemi Awolowo University and at Rockets University, USA. An accomplished stage and screen actor, Olaotan warmed his way into the consciousness of television viewers, playing the leading role in Tinsel. Only few episodes of the soap that started airing in August 2008 and Olaotan has become a household name. With the Rhythm stopping for him in 2021, Olaotan will be missing in action in 2022.
Prince Ifeanyi Dike
Prince Ifeanyi Dike
The industry had hardly smarted off the news of the death of Rachel Oniga and Victor Olaotan, when news broke again that another veteran actor and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) Prince Ifeanyi Dike had passed on. The actor and guild administrator reportedly passed early on August 27. President of the AGN Emeka Rollas who broke the news on an industry whatsapp platform confirmed that the actor who few years back had a successful surgery in India had been ill. A founding member of the AGN and at a time President of the guild, Dike was until his death the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the AGN. He made name as a television producer, presenter and was involved in industry politics before his demise.
Nollywood is still mourning the death of one of its illustrious members Sam Obiago. Popular as Daddy Sam, the actor and creative designer passed on December 22 after a brief illness. Sam has featured in over 100 movies and was an executive member of the Creative Designers Guild of Nigeria (CDGN). Described as a jolly good fellow by his colleagues, Daddy Sam has graced the cover jacket of movies such as ‘The Kings Decision’, ‘Blood Brothers’, ‘The Orbit’, ‘Battle of Kings’, and ‘My Decision’. among others.
*The Roll Call: Babatunde Omidina, Abiodun Aleja, Bruno Iwouha, Sadiq Daba, Rich Oganiru, Jim Lawson Maduike, Dan Nkolaogu, Victor Decker, Stanley Okoro.