Iconic characters in movies, TV shows

The Nigerian film and television industry has undoubtedly come a long way. From the time of celluloid films, to the present day, when digital streaming platforms and cinemas have become the media of choice for actors and filmmakers to distribute their works, it is no surprise that the country’s movie industry is considered to be the third largest in the world. In a nation with an abundance of talents, there have been several iconic roles which still hold special places in the hearts of viewers, even after many years. Saturday Beats takes a look at some of such characters


Actor, Chidi Mokeme, is undoubtedly enjoying the commendation and acclaim that have been coming his way since the release of the Netflix series titled, ‘Shanty Town’, where he acted as Scar, a drug dealer, pimp and gangster. Many fans have applauded him for the vivid portrayal of the character. This is especially so, because he had been out of the industry for many years.

Though an Igbo man, he oscillated between Yoruba and pidgin English in the series. The scars, tattoos and other body modifications he had to undergo also made his role more believable.

Speaking on the efforts he put into making the role an outstanding one, he said in a recent interview, “One of the body modifications I did to get into the character of Scar was to shave off my hair and go bald. I also did not take my bath and brush my teeth for a few days before going on set, so that when I was told to do something dirty, I could do it freely because I knew I was not clean.

“I don’t smoke but I had to smoke about three packets(of cigarettes) per day to make my voice sound the way it did in the series.”

He stated that it would take him some time to separate himself from the character. He added, “The character and I have become one, and it will take some time before we can let each other go.”


Actress, Funke Akindele, has also been in the industry for over two decades. Many Nigerians got acquainted with her when she acted the role of Bisi, a secondary school student in the TV series, ‘I Need to Know’, which was sponsored by the United Nations Population Board. The show, which held between 1997 and 2002, was part of UNFPA’s support to the government’s effort to provide information, education and communication on adolescent health issues.

After this series, she went on to act in both English and Yoruba movies. Though she had become a popular face, the actress did not make it to the big league until she played the character, ‘Jenifa’ in the eponymous film. Despite being made in Yoruba language, the movie was a hit across the country.

Jenifa is a village girl who goes to the city and pretends to be who she is not. Her speech is characterised by bad grammar, highfalutin words, and pidgin English.

She also made a second part of the movie, which was equally well accepted by movie lovers.

Buoyed by the success of the two-part movie, Akindele adapted it into a TV series titled, ‘Jenifa’s Diary’. She has also portrayed the character on stage at concerts and other events.

Needless to say, ‘Jenifa’ has become even more popular than ‘Funke Akindele’.

Papa Ajasco

Created by the veteran cartoonist, producer and media entrepreneur, Wale Adenuga, Pa Ajasco is undoubtedly one of the most enduring characters that have graced TV screens in the country. Formerly called ‘The Ajasco Family’, it is a spin-off of a feature film of the same title. It tells the story of the Ajasco family and their comedic interpretations of major societal issues. The main characters include the womanising patriarch of the family, Papa Ajasco; his long-suffering wife, Mama Ajasco; their mischievous son, Bobo Ajasco; a local playboy, Boy Alinco; a promiscuous gold-digger, Miss Pepeiye, and illiterate ne’er-do-wells, Pa James and Pa Jimoh.

Over the years, the role has been played by different actors— Peter Fatomilola, Femi Ogunrombi (who passed on recently) and Abiodun Ayoyinka.

Boy Alinco

Just like Papa Ajasco, Boy Alinco is another character in ‘The Ajasco Family’. A smooth-talking playboy, he can usually be found ‘lurking’ around the ladies. The character is liked by both young and old people.

It has been played by different actors, including Bayo Bankole and Victor Oyebode.

Mama G

Call her the quintessential wicked mother-in-law in Nollywood, and you will be spot-on correct.

Many actresses have acted as wicked mother-in-laws, but none quite like Patience Ozokwor. She embodies the role so well that many have argued that she does it so effortlessly because that is how she is in real life.

However, in an interview with The PUNCH, she stated that her true personality was different from the wicked, diabolic and cantankerous characters she usually played in movies. She said, “Nothing can be farther from the truth. I am a simple person who doesn’t like to interfere in other people’s lives.

“Sometimes, I cry when I watch some of the movies I acted in. I am nothing like that and you can never see me where wicked acts are being perpetuated. If anybody close to me does something wrong, I will not shield the person. Like I have said several times, I am an actress and every character I have ever played ended on the set.”

She, however, stated that she had no regrets acting those roles. She said, “Any actor worth their salt should be able to deliver on whatever role they are given to play. For people to be so affected by the roles I have played means that I did a good job in interpreting the characters I was given. However, I wouldn’t like to pass wrong messages to anyone through my movies.”

Toyin Tomato

Actress, Sola Sobowale, takes no prisoners when it comes to doing what she knows how to do best.

Though she has played quite a number of similar characters in the course of her career, one of those that stands out is ‘Toyin Tomato’, in the popular TV series, ‘Super Story: Oh Father, Oh Daughter’, produced by Wale Adenuga Productions.

Toyin Tomato is a young beautiful woman who lives an expensive life, and doesn’t hesitate to suck dry any man that falls into her trap.

Meanwhile, another actress, Toyin Adegbola, is also referred to as ‘Toyin Tomato’ from the role she played in the movie, ‘Asewo to re Mecca’.

Aki and Paw

Undoubtedly some of the most popular actors of their generation, the duo of Chinedu Ikedieze(Aki) and Osita Iheme(Pawpaw), have been capturing the hearts of movie lovers for about two decades.

They were thrust in the limelight when they played the roles of brothers in the 2003 comedy movie, ‘Aki na Ukwa’. The mischievous pair constantly played pranks on their family, and other members of their community.

Followed by the success of the movie, they have acted in different variations of the story.

Called the meme kings on social media, video clips and pictures from their movies are often used for memes and skits.

Mr Ibu

The name, John Okafor, may not readily ring a bell in some quarters. But, call ‘Mr Ibu’, and you would attract more than enough attention.

The actor became popular when he acted as Mr Ibu in the eponymous 2004 movie. The film was hugely popular, and it amassed fans, even outside Nigeria.

The character, Mr Ibu, is a simple-minded man who often gets himself in different situations, which he has to hilariously extricate himself from.

Having played the role so well, the actor has often spoken about how people don’t take him serious, even when they see him in real life. Well, who can blame them, as the actor seems to have a perpetual funny expression on his face.

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