Since the early 60s, the Nigerian film industry has been experiencing massive growth. Nollywood has grown from a small industry suffering from a dearth of funds to implement proper production, to a multi-billion naira industry with cutting-edge technology. Currently, these riches have also trickled down to the individual actors in Nollywood, and today, many more actors – including Yoruba actors can boast of having gathered immense wealth from acting. The focus of this read is to bring you up to speed with the knowledge of who the richest Yoruba actors currently are.
Top 10 Richest Yoruba Actors In Nigeria
In descending order, here are the top 10 richest Yoruba actors in Nigeria currently :
1. Funke Akindele
- Net Worth: $7.6 million (₦4.4 billion)
- Age: 46 years old
- Active Years: 1997 – present
- Famous for: I Need to Know and Jennifer’s Diary
- Other Sources of Income: Movie production, brand endorsements, social media
There are likely very few people who haven’t heard about Funke Akindele, who is popularly known by her on-screen name, Jenifa from Jennifer’s Diary. This Yoruba movie veteran tops the list as the richest Yoruba filmstar in Nigeria. Her major claim to fame happens to be the long-running hit TV series titled, ‘Jenifa’s Diary, a series she launched after the massive success of her movie ‘Jenifa’ in 2008 and an equally successful sequel in 2011 called The Return of Jenifa.
Funke Akindele was born in Ikorodu, Lagos State, Nigeria, to Mr. and Mrs. Akindele. The multi-talented thespian is a graduate of the Ogun State Polytechnic where she studied Mass Communication. Funke Akindele went on to enroll in the famous University of Lagos (UNILAG), where she studied Law. Nevertheless, she dumped her Law career for an acting one. Funke began acting back in 1998 and her career has skyrocketed in multiple ways since then. Her acting career started with her appearing in several Yoruba movies before she started her TV show.
Some of her featured movies include Isoken, Emi Apata, Miami, and the popular blockbuster, A Trip to Jamaica. These movies and many others have helped cement her career as one of the most versatile Nigerian actresses to come up in the last few decades. It is a testament to her creativity and passion for the arts that she has risen from just being another regular actress to becoming one of the most critically acclaimed ones at the moment.
Funke Akindele is also a businesswoman who has her hands in a lot of pies. She is the CEO of SceneOne Movie Production, a well-known movie production company. More so, she is a very profitable brand influencer and has gotten endorsement deals from major companies, including the major betting company – Nairabet, Keystone Bank, telecommunications company – Globacom, and many others. These and many more ventures are what have heavily contributed to Funke Akindele’s ₦4.4 billion fortune.
2. Odunlade Adekola
- Net Worth: $2.1 million (₦1.2 billion)
- Age: 46 years old
- Active Years: 1996 – Date
- Other Sources of Income: Production company, real estate, ambassadorial deals, social media
- Famous for: Farapamo, Emi nire Kan, Fayebora, I’la Owo, and Super Baba
Odunlade Adekola pulls rank as the richest Yoruba male actor and the 2nd richest Yoruba entertainer in Nigeria after Funke Akindele. His total net worth, currently valued at $2.1 million, is steadily on the increase as this man just never stops working hard. He has won several awards, including an award as best supporting actor at the AMVCA in 2022.
Odunlade Adekola was born in Ekiti State but mostly grew up in Ogun State which is his hometown. He was born to average middle-class parents on December 13, 1978. While little is known about Adekola’s life pre-fame, it is gathered that he comes from a middle-class family and he began acting as a little boy in drama plays organized by his church.
Over time, he honed his skills, and though he mostly takes up comedy roles, he dabbles into serious roles once in a while. His filmography consists of movies like Oko Ashewo, Taxi Driver, New Money, and Wives on Strike.
Adekola is currently the CEO of the Odunlade Adekola Film Productions, a movie production company. In addition to all his accomplishments as an actor and producer, he is also a popular influencer on social media and has bagged sponsorship deals with Globacom and Goldberg, to mention a few.
3. Femi Adebayo
- Net Worth: $1 000,000 (₦590 million)
- Age: 44 years old
- Active Years: 2006 – Date
- Other Sources of Income: Movie production, directing
- Famous for: Owo Blow, Etoiko Onigedu, Iro Funfun, Ogun Aye, Jelili, The Ghost and the Tout, and King of Thieves Ageshinkole
Femi Adebayo is proudly on the list of richest Yoruba actors and we are not surprised at all. He is well known among lovers of Yoruba comedy as his features have left many rolling in laughter. With a host of historic movies under his belt like November 1, Emi Abata, Ayitale, Kodi Ologbon Aye, Shola Arikusa, Apaadi Aseyiowu, Ayomide, Oruka, and Idunnu Obi, this man’s filmography is robust.
It’s also interesting to know that Femi was born into the family of the veteran actor, Adebayo Salami, who is well remembered for his positive contributions to the movie industry, particularly the Yoruba genre. After bagging a Law degree in his early 20s, Femi started his acting career in 1996.
He has also branched out into other business ventures – he is now a movie producer, director, and CEO of the J-15 media network. All of these have contributed to Femi Adebayo’s net worth which is valued at nearly $1 million, which is about ₦590 million as of 2022.
4. Dayo Amusa
- Net Worth: $700,000 (₦ 413 million)
- Age: 45 years old
- Active Years: 2002 – Date
- Other Sources of Income: Singing, filmmaking, movie directing
- Famous for: Unforgivable, Omoniyun, Ololade Omo Baba Olowo, and Emuke
Dayo Amusa was born to parents Kolawole Rasheed Amusa and Abiola Amusa in Surulere, Ikeja. She hails from Lagos State but has strong maternal ties to Ogun State. The 45-year-old actress is a graduate of the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY), Ojere, where she studied Food Science and Technology.
She began her acting career in 2002, choosing mostly to feature in Yoruba movies. Some of her most notable appearances include the movies Oju Owo, Aje Egbodo, Dewunmi Ibero, and Ekan Soso. In 2006, she decided to focus mainly on movie production and has worked with industry top guns like Segun Arinze, Igbo Ojo, and Nkechi Blessing. It was after this career shift that Dayo’s income began to rise exponentially.
Aside from her acting, Dayo Amusa is also a businesswoman, movie producer, director, and educator. She owns multiple businesses across the country, including a private Nursery School in Lagos and Ibadan. The multi-award-winning actress is estimated to be worth about $700 000, as of 2022.
5. Mercy Aigbe
- Net Worth: $ 600,000 (₦ 354 million)
- Age: 45 years old
- Active Years: 2001 – Date
- Other Sources of Income: Ambassadorial gigs, business, fashion design
- Famous for: Okanjua, Ihamo, Afefe Ife, Igberaga, and Ìpèsè
Mercy Aigbe holds sway as one of the wealthiest Nollywood Yoruba actresses. Although Mercy is an Edo native, she was born in Lagos State where she obtained her secondary school education at the Maryland Comprehensive Secondary School Ikeja, Lagos. She later went on to obtain an OND in Financial Studies from a polytechnic in Ibadan, Oyo State.
She later got enrolled in the University of Lagos to study Theater Arts. It was during her time there that Mercy began her acting career by featuring in some locally produced Yoruba movies like Afefe Ife, Okanjua, Ihamo, Ìpèsè, and Igberaga. She also appeared in the popular comedy-drama series, Papa Ajasco.
After 10 years of a successful acting career, Mercy decided to give back to the community by opening a drama school called the Mercy Aigbe Gentry School of Drama. More so, she is a fashion designer, brand influencer, and businesswoman. In 2014, she became the ambassador for Mama Gold rice.
She also advertises for Prestige Cosmetics, Edalaf Brother Limited, a fitness wear company called Shape you, and a hair extension brand called BK Hair. Other endorsements she has bagged include Naija Taxi Services and Mary Make. These endorsements and more are mostly responsible for her $600 000 net worth.
6. Olaniyi Afonja “Sanyeri”
- Net Worth: $500,000 (₦295 million)
- Age: 49 years old
- Active Years: 1992 – Date
- Other Sources of Income: Movie production
- Famous for: The Movie Sanyeri
Olaniyi Afonja is renowned for his comedic roles. The veteran actor has been an actor and movie producer for nearly 30 years and counting and his reputation as a very talented ‘funnyman’ precedes him.
He was born in Oyo State, Nigeria, as the first of 5 children. After having his primary and secondary education in Oyo, he moved to Lagos in search of greener pastures. He decided to go to drama school after which he joined a Lagos-based theater group.
His stage name “Sanyeri” is a moniker he was given by fans after he starred in a movie of the same title. Decades later, he has been able to work his way to the top of the richest Yoruba actors list. He is known to have managed to rack up his earnings by opening a movie production house. As of now, Olaniyi Afonja’s net worth is estimated to be over $500 000.
7. Wale Akorede Okunnu
- Net Worth: $450,000 (₦260 million)
- Age: 56 years old
- Active Years: 2002 – Date
- Other Sources of Income: Scriptwriting, movie production, and directing
- Famous for: Mallam Musa, Afolayan and Eyitayo
Wale Akorede was born in Ibadan, Oyo State where he was also raised. The actor became a businessman immediately after he graduated from the Department of Fine Arts at the Ibadan Polytechnic. Wale Akorede was introduced to the movie industry by Muyiwa Ademola after he had been a businessman for 13 years.
Wale, popularly known as “Okunnu”, has featured in over 90 Yoruba movies. He plays mostly funny roles and is among the top Yoruba comedians. Some of the movies he has appeared in include, Oba Korope, Omo Olusho, Gbarada, Iyebiye, Okirika, and Gbajumo. Wale has since transitioned into scriptwriting and directing, all of which have contributed to his net worth of $450,000 which is about ₦260 million.
8. Fathia Balogun
- Net Worth: $400,000 (₦235 million)
- Age: 54 years old
- Active Years: 2008 – Date
- Other Sources of Income: Movie production and directing, scriptwriting
- Famous for: Ta lo pa Chief and Iya Alalake
Fathia Balogun, now Fathia Williams is one of the most popular Yoruba actresses and she has been around for quite some time. The brilliant actress is also a filmmaker and movie producer and currently sits among one of the top 10 richest Yoruba actors.
Fathia is one of those actors who stumbled on acting accidentally. She was asked to fill in for an absent cast member in the movie Ta lo pa Chief when she realized that she had a knack for the screen. She decided to try pursuing a career in the Yoruba-speaking movie industry. After many years of hard work, Fathia has earned her stripes as one of the most successful Yoruba actresses of all time.
Some of her best-known movies include Aje Metta, Basira Badia, Teni Teka, Adekeja, and Farayola. Fathia is also pursuing a career behind the cameras and it is coming along quite well. She is a talented movie producer and director and won an AMVCA in 2008 and 2015 to that effect. The awards were for ‘Best Indigenous Film of the Year’ for her movie, Iranse, and ‘Best Indigenous Language’ for the film Iya Alalake respectively.
9. Muyiwa Ademola
- Net Worth: $400,000 (₦235 million)
- Age: 51 years old
- Active Years: 1991 – Date
- Other Sources of Income: Filmmaking, movie directing, and scriptwriting
- Famous for: Aside, Ogo Osupa, and Ori
Muyiwa Ademola is another famous and rich Yoruba actor. He was born to Rebecca and Isaiah Ademola in Abeokuta, Ogun State. He later attended the University of Ibadan where he obtained a degree in Adult Education. Through the guidance of veteran Charles Olumo, popularly known as Agbako, he found his way into the Yoruba movie industry.
His acting career finally kicked off in 1991 and by 1995, he had produced his first movie titled Asise. Since then, he has produced, directed, and featured in several other Yoruba Nollywood movies. His filmography as a director include Fimidara Ire, Alapadupe, Ami Ayo, and Gbarada. His most notable work is Ori, the critically acclaimed most effective native movie per the African Movie Academy.
Muyiwa Ademola’s net worth is estimated to be around $400,000 as of 2022. Much of this money comes from his work as the brand representative of the multi-million real estate company called Schemelink Residence Limited.
10. Iyabo Ojo
- Net Worth: $350,000 (₦206 million)
- Age: 45 years old
- Active Years: 1998 – Date
- Other Sources of Income: Movie directing and production
- Famous for: Satanic, Bolutife, and Ololufe
Iyabo Ojo is notable as one of the most controversial Yoruba actresses because of her private life. However, whether, controversial or not, Iyabo has managed to build an empire off her acting talents. She obtained her OND from a popular Nigerian Polytechnic where she studied Estate Management. After attending several drama classes, Iyabo finally began her acting career in 1998. She also joined the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) through her industry colleague, Bimbo Akintola.
While her first movie role was in the 1998 English-speaking film, Satanic, her debut Yoruba film was in 2002 in the movie, Baba Darijinwon. Since then, Iyabo has made appearances in over 200 movies to date and has produced over 20 films as well. Her Yoruba movies include Okunkun Biribiri, Bolutife, Ololufe, Esan to mention a few.
Nowadays, Iyabo spends her time running her fast food business and an Amala joint. She also owns a spa, as well as an event planning enterprise. In 2011, Iyabo Ojo founded the Pinkies Foundation NGO, a charity that provides for the less privileged.
Knowing that the Yoruba movie genre dates back to pre-Nollywood times, it is only right that this class of actors is beginning to get their flower as their predecessors were the pioneers of film in Nigeria. For those who don’t know, the Yoruba film industry has existed pre-Nollywood and has been the major backbone of the Nigerian movie industry for many decades.