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Charles Novia: The Best 5 Actresses in Nollywood in 2016



It’s The Novia List once again!

My annual ‘ Top 5 Best Actress/Best Actor’ list has always been released for the past three years during this period and it culminates for me, an exciting year in Nollywood wherein more than ever this year, there was a competitive slant in the quality of acting in the industry.

The year 2016 has been quite an interesting one for Nollywood as one could arguably conclude that more than ever, there were more exciting films released by Nollywood filmmakers at the Box Office than ever in the past five years. With a couple more to look forward to before the year draws the final curtains, some might argue that I am bringing out this list prematurely but I beg to differ. I think I have seen all what I have to see to know that those who make this list this year really deserve to be on this list and have given brilliant performances in 2016.

First, my overview of Nollywood in 2016; Nollywood was phenomenal in international networking and received deserved recognition but still floundering in production ambitions, story directions and elevation of general artistry. Many of the movies which had cinema runs in 2016 by Nollywood Filmmakers had no business being on the big screen and most should have been consigned to television fares rather than wasting the recession-tested money of the movie goers. Having watched many of such movies in 2016 with my team of judges, one’s patience was tested in many cases and I certainly hope that filmmakers would learn that the box office is not necessarily an avenue for boring movie goers with sleep-inducing fares. A lot of Nollywood movies which were released in the cinemas in 2016 had what I term ‘ the smooch factor’; which is an uncomplimentary term I coined where bored couples buy the tickets, find themselves alone in the hall in many cases and begin to smooch themselves while the movie flickers on the screen!

Once again in 2016, television series and serials gave Nollywood films a good run for money and a couple of outstanding commissioned productions opened a new window for me to re-evaluate old and new talents.

I always use the following criteria for awarding my prizes and it hasn’t changed this year; Interpretation, Visualisation, Characterisation and Enunciation.

I do not use ‘Stardom’ ‘A-Listers’ or whatever general considerations others might have in arriving at conclusions. It’s purely professional and nothing personal.



Nancy Isime

Nancy Isime

I can bet many people would be asking who she is and those who know her as a television presenter on a music channel might not even have an idea that she is an actress. I never did until a few months ago, I watched her in two movies and she completely delivered the goods in both. Nancy featured in ‘Hex’ a short film by music video maestro, Clarence Peters where she played the role of a cagey young lady and played her role to the hilt. Her ability to subsume the role and take over the screen in that short movie first caught my attention and I made a note that this was one lady to look out for in the future. That future came too soon as I watched her a few weeks later in ‘Gidi Blues’, where she played a supporting role but did it so well that it got me wondering why she did not play the lead role in the first place as Hauwa Allahburaka, the lead actress in that movie, was sometimes bland in delivery where it mattered. Nancy Isime gave natural and effortless reactions in ‘Gidi Blues’ and she was a delight to watch. This is one actress to watch out for, if the right scripts find her and all she needs is one big break. Take it from me, this young lady may go places.


Ade Laoye

Ade Laoye

In her role in the hit Africa Magic telenovela of sorts, ‘ Hush’, Ade Laoye explodes on the screen as ‘Oye’, a role which sees her give all her best and perhaps prove to us that her academic training in Theatre and Film abroad was not in anyway a mistake. Her ability to express conflicting emotions of confusion, determination, love and irritation, sometimes in one stretch in any scene tells me that this is a lady who internalises and interpretes her lines and role with minimum flaws. Though at times, her articulation wavers from an American-tinged accent to a Girl-next-door accent, that can be forgiven when she seamlessly switches to Yoruba in most of her interactions with Ruffy, a lovesick thug in ‘Hush’. Within the ambits of cosmopolitan roles, Ade Laoye comes out smoking. I would love to see her take on more challenging roles in future, a switch from the urbane to the local might help in assessing more of her range. In any case, this is a very good actress. Take that to the Bank.


Adesua Etomi

Adesua Etomi

There’s something artistically ‘ almost perfect’  in intensity when Adesua Etomi acts on the screen and the same attributes are not in anyway diminished when one sees her feature in theatre productions. I watched her in a couple of movies this year in which her powers of characterisation and interpretation were amazing. In ‘Falling’  and ‘The Arbitration’, Adesua gives performances demanding respect from her peers and professionals. The Young Lady sizzles on the screen and obviously does her homework on her roles very well. For the new generation, she is a good example of how an Actor Prepares. What the future holds for her in Nollywood is pleasantly poignant. Maybe international recognition would come calling.  Perhaps an Oscar or a Golden Globe in the near future? With talent this good, it is possible.


Bimbo Akintola

Bimbo Akintola

Easily, Bimbo Akintola would be my best pick any day and I had to mull much on whether to have a joint Number One this year. However, it is my pleasure to re-introduce Bimbo to an audience who hitherto knew she was one of the best in the country and would have to re-validate that perception after watching her in the movie ‘ 93 Days’. Her interpretation of Dr Ameyo Adadevoh, the late heroine of the Ebola Crisis faced by the Nigeria in 2014, was beautifully done. Bimbo took us all through the build ups, the family bond, the professional ethics and the uncanny heroism of Dr Adadevoh. Watching her with a lump in our throats and a pang in our hearts, one can tell that the Sympathy Value she brings to the story was enhanced by our willing suspension of disbelief. Is Bimbo good? Heck, no! She is excellent! She is in a class by herself and…….scratch that. She is in a Master Class by herself and acting students have no other option but to learn from her for years to come.


Somkele Iyamah-Idhalama

Somkele Iyamah-Idhalama

Who’s this graceful young lady who shook the Nollywood in 2016 with her prowess and panache? Where did she come from? How come a gust of fresh wind could smell so arty and refreshing?

The answers to those questions are as much to be found in Somkele Iyamah-Idhalama as they would be asked of her in the first place. I first noticed Somkele  perhaps a couple of years ago in the Ndani TV Web series ‘Gidi Up’ and though she stood out there, what struck me back then was that this young lady has such a powerful screen presence which looked under-utilised in that fare. Perhaps, a couple of Directors noticed it too because in 2016, Somkele came out smoking in two movies; ‘93 Days’ and ‘ The Arbitration’. In the latter, she believably plays the part of a Legal Counsel who represents her client and is conflicted as new revelations crop up during the proceedings. I was quite struck by Somkele’s deliberate mellow range in that movie and that made me sit up a bit to assess her in the other movie, ‘93 Days’. She plays Dr Ada Igonoh, an Ebola Survivor in the movie and it was in that portrayal that she won our hearts. Somkele gave us an insight into the conflicted emotions of that character. We saw pathos, poignancy, pain, and possibilities in her character. Most of all, she portrayed the power of Hope to the hilt. She was Ada Igonoh and not Somkele for the duration of the movie (and expectedly so, if one would say that was what was expected of her). And there was something very powerful about her final Walk of Life out of the hospital, where she gave a backward glance. That glance tells it all; a goodbye to an ordeal and there are few actors who can pack such innuendoes into a non-verbal action like that.

This lady lit up the screens in 2016. Let’s hope she continues to shine in the following years because she is, in my opinion, a new example of good acting.

And that’s the Truth, Ruth!


For more from Charles Novia, head over to his website here. Charles Novia is an award-winning avant garde Nollywood Filmmaker, author,  culture critic, social commentator and media entrepreneur.


  1. keke driver

    November 22, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    Bimbo has ALWAYS been in a class of Her own….#BeautyAnd Brain

    • Olori

      November 22, 2016 at 1:44 pm

      I agree. She’s easily among the top 7 Nigerian actresses of all time in my books!

    • Ewa Ali

      November 23, 2016 at 8:17 am

      I concur….

  2. Go on

    November 22, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    Why does Charles Novia still call himself a filmmaker?

    • Temitope

      November 22, 2016 at 2:37 pm

      avant garde for that matter

  3. Olori

    November 22, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    Love the list although a stubborn part of me wishes you replaced Adesua with Ini Dima Okojie. That girl is a super actress wow. Plus I’m not a fan of Adesua on or off screen at all. Personal Experience hehe. I’m very happy to see Bimbo Akintola on the list she’s such a gem. Her performance in that movie about the Ebola virus was simply magical.

    • ruth

      November 22, 2016 at 6:28 pm

      i agree with u, Adesua’s acting skills aren’t quite there yet … in a “lilian bach” kinda way. you can see thru the emotions , it doesn’t come naturally …. i love it when you can feel the emotions of the actor, when the actor makes the story line so real , so believable. and in my opinion ,she lacks that

    • Frank teacher

      November 22, 2016 at 9:52 pm

      Nope, not at all,
      The comparison ends with the “I’m a fine gal thing”
      Don’t let the beauty make you write her off.
      She’s a fantastic actor

    • olleny

      November 23, 2016 at 9:54 am

      My tots exactly, when i see Adesua on the screen

    • "changing moniker"

      November 23, 2016 at 5:44 pm

      I thought so too…That position should have been for Ini Dima Okojie, then the list would have been accurate.
      Adesua isn’t that good an actor… It feels like she is play acting not real acting whenever I watch her on screen..

  4. AfricanMovieReviews

    November 22, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    Charles I agree u most times but on this I disagree, because to even put Bimbo Akintola a veteran actress and the very best in the same category as these newbies is an insult to Bimbo. Are you kidding me that’s like putting Genevieve in same category as some newbie. And you put her as number 2? ?Cmon Charles.

    Cmon you and I know we have categories both in Nollywood or Hollywood.

    Bimbo is the most underrated actress in all of Nollywood, in a whole category of her own and that’s a fact. Just cos she’s been out of sight due to being selective in role picks (as she should be) doesn’t mean she fell off.

    If I was to pick one Nollywood actress who can represent Nigeria on international level to give an Oscar winning lupitarish performance to earn an Oscar, it’ll be none other but Bimbo Akintola, then Rita, then Genevieve. That’s it.

    • Baby gurl

      November 22, 2016 at 3:10 pm

      My dear please calm down for Jesus. I understand you. I equally love Bimbo Akintola. However this list is for movies released in 2016. Among the actresses who acted in a movie this year, she was among his top 5. U get?

    • Bimbo

      November 22, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      Abeg , Genevieve cannot act. Because of the general awfulness of acting in old nollywood she seemed to shine- she wasn’t great but she wasn’t too terrible. These new breed of actors have waaaaay ay more talent than majority of the old nollywood.

    • Ene

      November 22, 2016 at 3:54 pm

      @Bimbo Waaaay more talent?I strongly disagree.This generalisation is untrue. We as a people don’t embrace history .When ‘Nollywood’ started we had great actors Liz Benson, Ameze Imariegbe, Ann Njemanze, JT Tom west,Justus Esiri, Sydney Diala,Kunle Bamtefa, Toun Oni, Etc which general awfulness?

    • *rme

      November 23, 2016 at 10:46 am

      I seriously disagree with you. Not at genevieve’s talent, that’s her business. But pleeeassee, old nollywood had talent.

  5. Dolly

    November 22, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Difference between raw talent and commercial……Bimbo Akintola vs your top 5 famous Nollywood Actress, period!!! (don’t mess with my tutu)

    • Nze

      November 22, 2016 at 4:09 pm

      that Movie is every thing( don’t mess with my tutu, (out of bounds)), i personally this she is about the most underrated actor Nigeria has. she is so excellent and she commands English when she speaks.

  6. Mo'Diva

    November 22, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    Bimbo my all time fave. Happy 4 U

  7. Dash

    November 22, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    My Top five
    1. Bimbo Akintola – 93 days
    2. Rita Dominic – 76
    3. Shaffy Bello – It’s her day
    4. Ini Dima Okojie – It’s her day
    5. Somkele – 93days


      November 22, 2016 at 4:01 pm

      BN please delete Charles Novia’s post and replace it with this one. Thank you. ?

  8. Dee

    November 22, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Yesssss to Bimbo Akintola!! She is awesome.

  9. Boss

    November 22, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    No no no putting Bimbo in this category sulks !
    However, I understand when he says 2016.
    Otherwise, Bimbo is in the pinnacle really only with Omotola, Nse ( sometimes) and Beleive it or not another underrated actress, iretiola doyle. These are the only deep and versatile actors from the veterans in Nollywood.
    I’m a director , I’ve worked with all of them and know.


    November 22, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    It’s high time we get an underrated actors list and i am sorry Bimbo would be in it. I love her don’t get me wrong, but there some acts you look at and feel they can do better, turn things around in their roles, not wait till there is a good script and then begin to deliver to it. He even forgot to mention that movie she was in with Ade Bentu, now if you had watched that, you would have gone WTH was she thinking. I totally agree with this list especially as it relates to Nancy and her role in Gidi Blues.

    For the guys, i predict Gideon, DKD, Sambisa, Patrick Diabia and 1 other person! I am sure he would avoid Blossom and OC like a plague.

    • Hey.

      November 22, 2016 at 4:28 pm

      DKD for which movie? Blossom and OC have done nothing to earn them a spot on the list this year.

      Who is Patrick Diabia? I have never heard that name before.

      I predict RMD for “Oloibiri”, Ramsey Nouah for “76”, Ifeanyi Dike for “Green White Green,” Kenneth Okonkwo for “Wives on Strike.” I can’t think of more.

      Bimbo Akintola is underrated in terms of not getting the respect and recognition she deserves in the industry.

  11. Awesome

    November 22, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    @Boss, Director nii ! go and sit than joor. Make person hear word. You have worked with them all and you have time to comment on this blog…

    • Chu

      November 23, 2016 at 4:26 pm

      why the beef?

  12. Hey.

    November 22, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    DKD for which movie? Blossom and OC have done nothing to earn them a spot on the list this year.

    Who is Patrick Diabia? I have never heard that name before.

    I predict RMD for “Oloibiri”, Ramsey Nouah for “76”, Ifeanyi Dike for “Green White Green,” Kenneth Okonkwo for “Wives on Strike.” I can’t think of more.

    Bimbo Akintola is underrated in terms of not getting the respect and recognition she deserves in the industry.

  13. NaijaPikin

    November 22, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    Haven’t watched most of the movies on the list (We are dependent on Irokotv for movie watching) so I can’t really comment on this 2016 list. Actresses I do love (in no particular order)

    Nse Ikpe-Etim, Somkhele Idhalama, Adesua Etomi, Ini Dima-Okojie, Bimbo Akintola (glad shes back on the scene), Ireti Doyle

    Would love to see these ladies return to acting – Ego Boyo, Liz Benson, Kate Henshaw, Ann Segun Arinze (I know they are divorced not sure of her new last name)

  14. Lala

    November 22, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    Toni Tones is by favourite actor at the moment, she is fantastic

  15. king Bey

    November 22, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    Bimbo Akintola is for the win…she’s an exprctional actress….I am tired of Genny this,Genny that,she’s overated biko…I love her personality but as an actress not sure …

  16. Anonymous

    November 22, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    Adesua Etomi from where? Truly beauty and packaging go a long way

    • Lulu

      November 23, 2016 at 2:07 pm

      Honestly! That girl is not a good actress to warrant being on this list. She beat Rita, Shaffy Bello and Ini Dima! Imagine.

    • "changing moniker"

      November 23, 2016 at 5:48 pm

      I weak too….
      people need to look past beauty and fair skin to recognize talent…
      Ini Dima and Rita should definitely be on that list…
      number 1 any day anytime is Bimbo Akintola!

  17. Me

    November 22, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    Alas! Alas!! Bimbo Akintola. If I am ever going to produce a movie in this country. I have no doubt at all she’s going to feature in it. Genevieve is good but trust me there’s a huge difference. Bimbo is an exceptional, raw talent. Hollywood quality!

  18. chinedu

    November 22, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    Nigeria have 5 best actresses til date,Genevieve, bimbo,stella,nse,onyeka,.they’re very deep and comfortable while delivery their characters, with genny I always forget myself, she always give Oscar, performance in each of her role,Jesus she made a statement with Road to yesterday.

  19. Ms jazz

    November 22, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    Mr Novia why are Rita Dominic (76 movie) and Nse ikpe Etim’s (the visit movie) names not on your list. They both gave outstanding performances in both films ‘Jack’! I only agree with two names on that list, Bimbo Akintola and Somkele! Well you don’t know how to make good movies yourself so you don’t know how to spot a good one or good role interpretations

  20. Nonamespls

    November 22, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    First i just realised weve not herard from Charles in a bit, which is good otherwise i probably would not have read this piece. I agree with his this time except perhaps Bimbo should not be in same class seeing she has been in the business for a much longer time.
    Wonder why the beef for Adesua sha, in my opinion the babe is good ive seen her on stage and on screen i think she interpretes and delivers her role quite well

  21. Dash

    November 22, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    Best Actors list
    1. Ramsey Noauh – 76
    2. Wale Ojo – The CEO
    3. RMD – Oloibiri
    4. Adonai / DKD – 76
    5. Ifeanyi Dike – Green white Green

    • Ghostmode

      November 23, 2016 at 2:50 pm

      @ Dash please how can i get these movies you have listed? I don’t mind paying, I’m at the mercy of Irokotv, I need options.

    • Toese

      November 24, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      Me ‘three’ oo

  22. me

    November 26, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    Adesua shouldn’t be on this list………she still needs to work on her acting skills

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