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Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde: Africa’s Box Office Queen

Young Actress

Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, born in Lagos to Ondo parents, she spent the most of her childhood in Kaduna. She grew up in a family of 5; her parents and 2 brothers. She lost her father in her teens and started working as a model at the age of 15 in order to support the family. She was introduced to acting after accompanying a friend to an audition, but her mother would not hear of it. Omotola got her first movie role two years later in Venom of Justice, directed by Reginald Ebere, but not before the entire crew had come to her house, and begged her mother to allow her be part of the production.

Her role in Mortal Inheritance the following year earned the budding actress multiple awards, including, Best Actress in an English Speaking Movie and Best Actress Overall at the 1996/97 Thema Awards.

She got married at the Ikeja registry on the 23rd, March 1996 to an airline pilot, Captain Matthew Ekeinde, and had a much-talked-about white wedding on the 19th of April, 2001, on board a DASH 7 Aircraft flying from Lagos to Benin with close family and friends in attendance. They had their first child in 1997 and would go on to have three more children. Her popular nickname, Omosexy, was given to her by her dear husband.

Blossoming Career

Omosexy was becoming increasingly popular in the late 90s and early 2000s, with prominent roles in several sequel films, among which are Lost Kingdom parts 1 and 2, Korsorogun parts 1 and 2, and Blood Sister 1 and 2. By the turn of the millennium, Omotola had grown into an A-list actress and was awarded Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the 2005 edition of the African Movie Awards.

The same year she launched her music career with a debut studio album, titled, GBA. The album featured popular singles like Naija Lowa and The Things You Do To Me. She has released four albums altogether including the 2014 sophomore album, Me, Myself, and Eyes, which had the song Barren Land, used in a public service announcement about the oil spillage in the Niger Delta, that aired nationwide.

In the early 2010s, Omotola played lead roles in a good number of high-grossing films. The 2010 drama film Ije, in which she starred alongside Genevieve Nnaji, became the highest grossing film ever in African cinemas. This was soon followed by the thriller movie Last Flight To Abuja, in 2012, which beat Hollywood blockbusters Spiderman, Ice Age, The Avengers, Think like a Man and Madagascar to become the second highest-grossing movie in West Africa.

Queen

Omotola. ynaija.com

In 2011, the cinema box office queen received an invite to the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, in recognition of her work with Amnesty International and her song “Barren Land,”.

In 2012, n October 27, Omotola. was awarded The Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts (BEFFTA) Icon Award, for her outstanding contributions to the global film industry. In her acknowledgement, she said it was the biggest award she had won on a global scale.

The same year, the actress ventured into doing her own TV reality show, Omotola: The Real Me, airing on Africa Magic Entertainment, an M-Net subsidiary broadcast on DStv. It made records as the first ever reality TV show built around the life of a Nigerian.

In February 2013, it was announced that she had passed the one million likes mark on Facebook, making her the first African celebrity to have over a million likes on her Facebook page. She made her US television debut in a VH1 scripted series, titled Hit the Floor. Later in the year, she spoke at WISE Summit, held in Doha, Qatar. Omotola was also honoured as of TIME Magazine’s Most Influential People In the World on the 2013 TIME 100.

In 2014, she was honoured by the Nigerian government as a Member of the Order of the Federal Republic, MFR for her contributions to Nigerian film industry.

In June 2018, Omotola was invited to join the prestigious membership of the Oscars voting Academy. Also known as the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science.  She is one of the very few Africans who has been so privileged.

Apart from being a great wife, mother, actress and singer, Omotola has always been passionate about writing; so much so, she had an column in OK! Nigeria. The now-famous Omotola’s Diary, features Omotola’s writings about her life, experiences, and her very unique viewpoint of life and issues. She also has personal poems and scripts. She is co-writer of many of the films in which she starred.

Philanthropist

Omotola is a a philanthropist. She brings hundreds of youth together for the Empowerment Walk and Convention, using her NGO the Omotola Youth Empowerment Project (OYEP). One of its very famous projects includes the “20 Widows Makeover”. The program was nominated  Best Charity/Cause-Related Event at the Nigerian Event Awards in 2012

She has been a United Nations ambassador for the World Food Programme since 2005. And has continued her philanthropy and activism through “Save The Children UK”, “Enough is Enough”, as well as Amnesty International’s Maternal Mortality struggle in Sierra-Leone and the “Own Up, Pay Up and Clean Up” campaign for Niger Delta.

Omotola continues to make Nigeria proud and we truly appreciate this rare gem.

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Akwaowo Willie

Akwaowo Willie is a social media consultant for several businesses including SMEs and Startups. He is also an entrepreneur and writer with interests in entertainment, media, fashion, among others. He is married, with 2 adorable children.

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