Some incredible talents made their debut last year. While some subtly registered their presence over the past few years, others however didn’t get the chance to shine as bright as their talent, but they are definitely people to watch out for in 2023. Shade Wesley-Metibogun chronicles a few of these underrated gems.
Fast rising thespian, Chinenye Ubah started her acting career in Asaba, Delta State but moved to Lagos State to seek greener pasture in 2019, shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country. The graduate of Theatre Arts from Delta State University, Abraka, featured in her first movie in 2003 when she was in secondary school. She played the role of Grace, a child in ‘Selfish Desires.’ She then took a break after that to focus on her schooling but returned in 2016 where she took a lead role in ‘The Eyes of Love.’ The actress aspires to become a producer eventually, but she is taking out time to build her career as an actress and learn better skills. The introverted personality values her privacy so much that she shies away from the limelight. She has featured in a handful of movies and her role has been applauded in some of the movies.
Tomiwa Tegbe is best known for his role in MTV Shuga Naija series as Wasiu and Africa Magic TV series, ‘My Siblings and I’ where he acted as James. From Ibadan, Oyo State capital, he started his acting career as an undergraduate of the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta where he was studying Environmental Management Technology. It was after his first auditioning and acting role that he made up his mind to make acting his career. He has since featured in a few movies, short films and TV series. The talented actor is also an illustrator who creates drawings that are used in newspaper, magazine, books and catalogues.
Genoveva Umeh rose to prominence after she featured in a Nexflix mini-drama series ‘Blood Sister’ where she acted as Timileyin Ademola. Her role interpretation in the series earned her a place in the hearts of movie lovers. Umeh was born in Nigeria but grew up in the United States after her family relocated in 2006. She had her primary and secondary education in London and was trained at the Identity School of Acting where she honed her skills as an actress. She later studied law at the University of Surrey, United Kingdom before kicking off her acting career in Nollywood. While aboard, she worked with a UK media consultant as an usher for Nollywood London premieres. She was able to connect to some producers who gave her background acting opportunities. She sent her audition tapes for casting calls to Nigeria producers and was invited for Ebonylife, ‘On the Real’ which marked the beginning of her acting career in Nigeria. She has since acted in a handful of blockbuster movies and was nominated for the Best Actress in a Drama series at the 2022 African Magic Viewers Choice Awards for her role in ‘A Tune Away,’ a drama film.
Nollywood actress, Uzoamaka Onuoha’s versatility in acting has endeared movie lovers to her craft. The alumni of the University of Nigeria Nsukka, Theatre and Film Studies department has been interested in acting from a very young age. She mimicked stars she saw on television and reenacted their actions in the mirror. She made her debut in Nollywood in 2018 in the movie ‘If I Am President’ and she has since featured in multiple films and television series. The Imo State born thespian has also featured in some stage plays. Her role as the lead cast in the crime thriller, ‘Diiche,’ the first Showmax Nigerian Original Limited series earned her applause and more movie roles in the industry and has placed her among the actors to watch out for in 2023.
Fast rising Nollywood actor, Tobi Makinde’s acting career started from childhood, just like his other counterparts in the make-believe world. His first encounter with the screen was when his father introduced him to acting in Tunji Bamishigbin and Ralph Nwadike’s movie, ‘Silenced’. He also landed a role in Nathaniel Ibekwe’s sitcom, ‘Kamson and Neighbors’. He took a break to concentrate on his education thereafter and graduated from the department of Theatre Arts, University of Lagos. He later returned to the school for his Masters Degree program and bagged a second degree in Theatre Arts as well from the same university. Makinde attempted to make a comeback to the screen but was met with brick walls for some years until luck smiled on him and he was chosen to feature in ‘Industreet’. Fans got to enjoy his acting prowess when he met Funke Akindele and he was offered to act in one of the most watched television series ‘Jenifa’s Diary’, where he played the role of Timini. Makinde has proved that he is worth his onion with his acting skills. His humility earned him a soft spot in Akindele’s heart, and she took him as a younger brother, tutored him and introduced him to movie production. The talented act earned a spot among actors to watch out for in 2023 because he has proved that his talent goes beyond just acting to movie directing. His very first effort at co-directing a movie was in the blockbuster movie, ‘Battle on Buka Street’ which was one of the highest grossing movies of 2022.
Fast rising content creator, Isaac Olayiwola, also known as Layiwa Sabi is one to watch out for in 2023. The talented act started out in secondary school by making short video clips with his friends in the classroom. He formed a comedy group, Emerald Star in secondary school and competed in a comedy talent show. It was the talent hunt that gave him a clear perception of what he wanted to do in life. He started taking comedy seriously when he was in his final years studying Law at Bowen University. He started out on TikTok and was getting engagements even when he had less than a thousand followers on the micro blogging app. The Osun State born influencer did so well with his comedy career in the university that he got an award as the most entertaining personality by the Law Students Society of Bowen University in 2021. His uniqueness lies in his ability to play with words and coin new words which lend his skits a kind of bookish mien.
On-Air-Personality, content creator, actress, voice over artiste, Ope Keshinro, also known as Swit Ope started out in secondary school where she honed her talents and got involved in the drama and dance group. She refined her talent at the University of Lagos where she studied Creative Arts and then ventured into broadcasting. Swit Ope also harnessed social media to win the hearts of skit lovers by engaging in hilarious skits and portraying different characters. She was once featured on CNN for her incredible talents. The brand influencer has had her hands in the movie industry and featured in a few Nollywood movies.
On Air Personality cum TikToker, Joseph Onaolapo also known as Jay On Air discovered his passion for content creation during the lockdown when he was out of job. He had quit his radio job and ventured into thrift business but the lockdown halted the business and he went into depression. To make himself happy, he ventured into the world of content creation on TikTok. He started lip-syncing popular sound and attracted the attention of followers who loved what he was doing. He started uploading his personal contents and began getting paid for them. Aside from content creation, Jay on Air is also a Masters of Ceremonies, radio host and is looking forward to pitching his tent in the business world again.
Abiri Tobiloba Folagade
Skit maker, Abiri Tobiloba Folagade Festus, otherwise known as Folagade Banks had a total turnaround the day he decided to start mimicking different characters to tell his story. He started with the character, mama Deola, a self-righteous Yoruba woman who is highly opinionated. He didn’t want to take it seriously at first until he got positive feedback from his friends who encouraged him to keep at it. It all started during the pandemic when he was at home and feeling bored. He decided to amuse himself on social media and it later became a flourishing career for him. The graduate of Geography from Obafemi Awolowo University has not looked back since then. Though his childhood dream was to become a doctor, he later realized that he was cut out for the entertainment industry. His first award came when he was in the University as the funniest guy and most jovial on campus.
Enugu State born skit maker, Nna-Udosen Mfoniso, also known as Kenzy Udosen started out on social media by disguising himself as a typical fashionable Igbo woman known as Madam Theresa. She addresses societal issues and vocabularies in humorous ways. The graduate of Combined Biological Sciences from the University of Nigeria Nsukka was able to gain prominence and acceptance with his character on social media. The talented actor is an all-round entertainer, an actor, presenter, content creator, social media influencer who has carved a niche for himself and joined the league of content creators to watch out for in 2023.
Kammal Zulu Okafor
Kammal Zulu Okafor, otherwise known as Solis, took interest in singing when she was a child. Her stage name, Solis means the sun in Latin language. She fell in love with the name because it is a reflection of her music which gives hope to its listeners. She started posting music and bedroom videos on YouTube when she was 16 years. But she began getting noticed when one of her bedroom music videos ‘Watch Me’ went viral. She was invited to perform at some shows after her post generated impressive views. She also landed some features in Bowofoluwa Olufisayo Odunsi, ‘The Engine.’ She also featured in Lady Donli’s song, ‘Enjoy our life.’ The Indie soul, lo-fi influenced singer released her first song titled Angel. She released another song, ‘Can’t Breathe’ which was well received. Solis’ songs come in the form of storytelling and odes with comforting and assuring lyrics. She is definitely one of the up-and-coming music artists to watch out for in 2023.
Multi-talented singer, Edwin Madu, professionally known as Dwin shuttles between his love for journalism as the Editor in Chief of ‘Zikoko’ magazine and writing songs for other music artistes. He wrote some of Adekunle Kosoko aka Adekunle Gold’s hit songs. He grew up surrounded by music of different genres as his father was a disc jockey. He took online courses to sharpen his skill in song writing and started out singing professionally with a singing group, Ignis Brothers. He employs vivid storytelling in his music while exploring themes ranging from love, death and politics which cut across several genres such as afro pop, soft rock and folk music. His first song, ‘Stay the Night’ garnered massive play on Spotify.
Afro-pop singer and songwriter, Balogun Oluwaloseyi, professionally known as Seyi Vibez came from a very humble background but from the contents he puts out there, his talent and music will soon set him on the world map. Currently a student of Sociology at the University of Lagos, Seyi began recreating the songs of other musicians and sang for his friends and family while in secondary school. He later ventured into the music industry in 2019 but his music started gaining followership in 2021 after releasing ‘God Sent’. Taking Fela Anikulapo Kuti as his inspiration, he started combining African neighborhood lingual Yoruba alongside moving verses with musical sound infusion. He has since released more songs such as ‘Dia Father,’ ‘Pay Day,’ ‘Bamishe.’ Seyi Vibez has since registered himself as one of the music acts to watch out for in 2023.
Godson Ominibie Epelle
Godwin Ominibie Epelle, professionally known as 1Da Banton is a dancehall singer, songwriter and producer. Born and raised in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, he was pursuing a degree in Civil Engineering when he dropped out and opted for music. He signed a record deal with Adasa Cookey Squareball Entertainment and relocated to Lagos State in 2014. His first musical debut was in 2017 when he released his debut extended play, The Banton EP, one of the Ep song, ‘Way Up’ was used for the third season of Big Brother Naija. His music was taken seriously after the release of ‘No Wahala’ in 2021. The song was also considered among the 2021 Spotify playlist of favourite song of the year. He has since wormed his way into the hearts of music lovers since then.
Adelabu Alexander, also known as ‘Magixx’ is one of the new signees of Michael Ajereh, also known as Don Jazzy’s record label, Marvin record. Music started for Magixx when he was an undergraduate at the University of Lagos studying Mass Communication. He started performing at university gigs and became a toast of students in Unilag’s entertainment community. He often posts freestyles of his songs on social media, in 2019, he made the cover of Burna Boy’s hit track which went viral. It was followed by the cover of Adekunle Kosoko aka Adekunle Gold’s track, ‘Sinner’ and caught the attention of Marvin boss, Don Jazzy who signed him to his record label in 2021. He released his debut EP, ‘Magixx’ EP a few weeks after he was signed. He is one of the promising talents to watch out for the Nigeria music industry in 2023.
Lawyer turned fashion designer, stylist and influencer, Harmony Adenipekun came into limelight after Nollywood actress, Funke Akindele started sharing his videos online. The plus size fashion designer’s journey started in church with his unique dance steps which eventually went viral. Adenipekun had been dancing in church for five years before luck ran into him and he became a viral sensation. After one of his dance videos went viral because it was shared by the actress, he gained many followers and his content became widely accepted. While studying for his law degree, he ventured into the fashion industry and started Harmony culture, a bespoke tailoring brand for both male and female. He also ventured into event planning and set up Harmony Luxe Event which he juggled with his academics and content creation and influencing career. Adenipekun who has been able to build a niche for himself joins the league of up and coming small business owners to watch for in 2023.
Adenike Isi Adeeko
Adenike Isi Adeeko, the young vibrant serial entrepreneur is an industry -leading data management, digital advisory and strategist expert with a knack for driving innovation. She is the Chief Executive Officer of Tiki Culture, a night life hospitality centre in the Federal Capital Territory. The multi-talented businesswoman is also the co-founder of Donkey Technologies, a leading IT organization involved in web development, content marketing, app design and social media marketing. In addition to her numerous businesses, she recently set up an online store called Donkey Shop, an e-commerce start-up offering sales of household items and electronics. She has invested more than a decade of her career into the IT sector and made a success of her ventures. The hospitality and IT expert had devoted all her strength and passion in running her businesses that she beat the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP senatorial candidate, Natasha Akpoti to clinch the young female entrepreneur of 2022 Democracy Heroes award.
Esther Whyte Bassey
Multiple award-winning actress, On Air Personality, radio DJ, film producer and all-round entrepreneur, Esther Whyte Bassey is into a male dominated business and she is thriving in it. The night life queen as she is fondly called is the owner of 66 Lounge and Club. She ventured into the business because of her passion to see people dancing happily and making merry and she has given men in the same field a run for their money. Bassey’s sojourn in the entertainment industry dates back to when she was 13. She produced her own movie at 16 and has featured in a lot of blockbuster movies. Since the inception of her career, she has proven that she has what it takes to build her brand to an enviable height.
Chika Madubuko’s journey into the entrepreneur’s world started as a result of trying to get a caregiver for her aged grandmother without success. After several attempts at getting a caregiver, she decided to fill the void in the life of others. She set up Greymate Care, a technology driven platform used to look for safe caregivers, doctors and nurses for their elderly. Before her foray into entrepreneurship, she had worked with multi-nationals such as Amazon Inc and Guinness. The young entrepreneur also has her hands in the Agricultural and health sector. Born in the northern part of Nigeria, Madubuko attended Nnamdi Azikiwe University where she studied Microbiology.
24-year-old Sekoni Bright is the Chief Executive Officer of Audacia Prime Realty Limited. An alumnus of Lagos State University, Ojo. He is known for his knack for pursuing greatness. Sekoni while on campus engaged in so many businesses before choosing to berth in the real estate business. Coupled with his oratory prowess, the sky has gone beyond being his limit. Sekoni started off as a sales executive in a real estate firm and his passion to become big drove him into owning his. Since owning Audacia, he has sold nothing less than N5 billion worth of property in Lagos State alone with the latest of them being Adunni Tech City. Sekoni mostly targets Generation Z and millenials for his real estate business because he believes that they are the future landlords that ought not to waste their funds on frivolities.