The bane of anything Nigerian is lack of data in any field. It’s almost like a clause in our constitution to have an aversion to collecting and sharing data, so it’s near impossible to have precise figures for our entertainment industry. That said, insiders can make educated guesses that are close.
The highest earners in the Nigerian movie industry are the Genevives, Omotolas, Funke Akindeles, Rita Dominics and Mercy Johnsons- their fees go as high as N5m (sometimes). And they don’t appear frequently these days.
The lower cadre of actresses (feel free to include any of your favourite stars) make way less than that. N500,000 (five hundred thousand naira) is a major breakthrough for most.
There are actors who still collect N40,000 to N50,000 (forty to fifty thousand naira) for their troubles. As a matter of fact, all of them often appear in movies for free – to support a colleague or a friend who will definitely return the favour.
So all the Gucci bags and Louboutin shoes and Dubai vacations; where do they come from?
Simple: most our actresses do ‘runs’, the age old Naija-speak for trading sexual affairs for financial favours. It has been romanticised so much that it is now seen as normal – even away from the glamour of Nollywood. University students, unemployed graduates; basically anyone willing and able to look pretty and arch their backs.
While it is not fair to lump all actors and actresses in the ‘runs’ category – a lot of them actually work hard and live on the straight and narrow – the numbers from their earnings don’t add up to support their lavish lifestyle.
Case in point: the matter of Apostle Suleiman and Daniella Okeke. One is almost certain that Ms Okeke has not acted in more than a dozen low budget movies. Yet her Instagram is Kardashian-esque; the cars, jewellery, shoes that she puts up scream ‘Can’t you see I’m living the life?!’
The revelation that she’s one of the Apostle’s sugar babies wasn’t surprising to many observers, who had suspected that the house in Maryland was paid for by someone with deep pockets.
Not to be left out of the ‘fun’, heavy breasted Cossy Orjiakor, who cannot be described as an actress but is some sort of celebrity, called out a few colleagues who she claimed to have connected to rich johns. Of course it would take more than a few Instagram posts to verify these claims, if it swims, walks, quacks like a duck then it most certainly is a duck.
Apostle Suleiman might be the current gist of the town but he’s not the only ‘baba alanu’ (merciful father as Yoruba actresses call it). We were all here when a serving governor flew in a reality show winner for a visit – paid for by state funds of course.
The demands of a celebrity lifestyle is so intense that it will make people do what it takes to keep up. After all, a celebrity that cannot travel to Dubai for the weekend, is that one a celeb?
Those things more often than not are paid for by enamoured fans that happen to be wealthy. Sometimes it will end up in a shotgun marriage like Tonto Dikeh‘s; other times it will become a salacious gist like Apostle Suleiman’s which is throwing up new names as each day passes.
Like our darling former first lady famously said, ‘Diariz God o! Kontinu…’
Written by Jide Taiwo