The entertainment industry is one of the best-paying industries all over the world. In Nigeria, the case is not different: players in the industry earn astronomical amounts, by simply doing what they love to do. They literally earn big by having fun displaying their gifts and talents. As a matter of fact, the average entertainer earns more than some people who work at regimented white-collar jobs.
The industry consists of actors and actresses, comedians and producers, photographers and event planners, and a few other upcoming arms in the whole showbiz industry. As with all other fields of enterprise, there are those who have established themselves as veterans and household names in the industry, and for that reason, they earn the largest income among their peers. Conversely, there are also those who are either just climbing up the ladder, or who are just beginning to gain some recognition for their works. These ones do not earn as high as the veterans, but might, in due time.
Nigeria’s movie industry has been rightly dubbed ‘Nollywood’, after its American counterpart, Hollywood. As a matter of fact, Nollywood has been ranked as the world’s second most profitable movie industry, after Hollywood, and just before Bollywood (India’s movie industry). Such global recognition only reflects how much talent and resources that abound in Nigeria.
This post seeks to explore the top earners in the movie industry. We have here listed the top ten, in order of earnings and net worth.
#1. Richard Mofe Damijo (RMD) – worth 15 million dollars
Richard Mofe Damijo is unarguably one of the best movie actors that Nigeria has ever produced. He is a veteran of the Nigerian movie industry. As a matter of fact, he has been on the scene since the inception of the Nigerian movie industry. He is one of those ‘old faces’ who have not only managed to remain relevant in contemporary times, but is now also a force to reckon with, as far as the movie industry in Nigeria is concerned. He has featured in many blockbuster movies. Most recently, he featured in AY and EbonyTV’s blockbuster movie, The Wedding Party 1 and 2. He also featured in 30 days in Atlanta, as well as in many other top picks of the decade.
Asides his activities in the movie industry, ‘RMD’ (as he is fondly known) also does Television commercials and voice-overs for TV and Radio stations. At some point in his career, he ventured into politics, where he served as a Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in his native Delta state. Since then, he has gone on to sign various mega ambassadorial deals with many companies, both within and outside the country. His current net worth is put at 15 million dollars.
#2. Desmond Elliot – worth 10 million dollars
Just like RMD, Desmond Elliot is also one of Nigeria’s finest actors. He is also a veteran of the industry, having made his name during the early days of Nollywood’s inception. There is hardly any young person in Nigeria who does not know Desmond Elliot.
He has managed to stay relevant since the transformation of the Nigerian movie industry, and is now one of the key players on the scene. Any movie that features Desmond Elliot is surely going to be a blockbuster, and producers who want to make massive sales in their movies often feature veterans like Desmond Elliot in their cast.
At some point in his career, he also ventured into politics, just like RMD. He served as a member of the Lagos State House of Representatives, representing Surulere Constituency. This was between 2014 and 2015.
Asides his movie acting, he also produces and directs movies. Over his career, he has acted, directed, and produced various top movies. He also often works as an ambassador for various companies in Nigeria, including Glo mobile and a few others. His current net worth is put at 10 million dollars.
#3. Jim Iyke – worth 8 million dollars
This is the ‘bad boy’ of the Nigerian movie scene. Like RMD and Desmond Ellilot, Jim Iyke has also been around for a long time. He was once one of the hottest acts in Nollywood, and even now that many other actors are fast becoming household names, he is still relevant in the industry.
He began acting in the year 2001, and has established himself as a household name in Nollywood. Asides acting, Jim Iyke is also a businessman and a Philanthropist. He is the founder of the Jim Iyke foundation which takes care of the welfare of disabled children, and his chain of businesses includes a water company which he named ‘Burgeon Water’, a fashion house/clothing line which he called ‘Untamed Closet’, and a few other budding business outlets. His net worth is 8 million dollars.
#4. Chidi Mokeme – worth 7 million dollars
Perhaps, Nigerians will remember Chidi Mokeme more for his action-packed role in hosting reality-TV show, Gulder Ultimate Search. Well, for those who didn’t know, Chidi Mokeme is one of Nigeria’s finest movie actors. In fact, he started acting long before he got into TV show hosting. However, his market stock rose exponentially after he ventured into hosting TV shows – particularly the first two editions of Gulder Ultimate Search.
Chidi Mokeme started acting in the year 1995. He was relatively unknown at that time, but consistency paid off on the long run. He is currently worth in excess of 7 million dollars.
#5. Segun Arinze – worth 5.1 million dollars
Segun Arinze is a household name in the industry, and even a fan’s favourite. His roles in movies are always action-packed and full of suspense, and he is known for getting deep into whatever role is assigned to him. His characteristically-large eyeballs coupled with his huge, muscular frame and dark toned body add bite to his gestures and expressions, which is why, even till today, he is still one of the most respected actors in Nollywood.
Segun Arinze started acting quite early in his life. He started on a relatively low note, until his big break came via a soap opera he featured in, that was titled ‘Ripples’. This was in the early ‘90s.
However, he didn’t just do acting. He was also a singer and a scriptwriter. As a matter of fact, he also did voice-overs for TV and Radio commercials. As an actor, he shared the unofficial title of Nollywood’s ‘Bad Boy’ with fellow veteran Jim Iyke. Today, he is one of the richest and most respected actors in the industry. He is currently worth 5.1 million dollars.
#6. Mike Ezuruonye – worth 4.7 million dollars
Mike Ezuruonye is one of those who happen to have practiced more than one career in their lifetime. This light-complexioned actor was first a practicing banker, before he discovered his passion for acting. It took a while for him to leave his well-paying job as a banker to start acting movies; however, now, after he took the transition, we can see that it was a wise choice that he made.
He made a few connections and was given a few cameos to play. Through them, he built confidence and competence; and then, when his first major role in a movie came, he was better-equipped for it. This first major role of his came in a movie titled ‘Broken Marriage’. Few would have expected that he would hit the spotlight from there, and even the producer of the movie allegedly selected him for the role as a last resort. However, right from then on, his market value skyrocketed, and he has featured in many more movies since then.
Asides acting, he is also a brand ambassador for top brands within the country. He has served as a brand ambassador for Nigerian telecom giants Glo mobile, and also Airtel, at different times in his life. His current net worth is put at 4.7 million dollars.
#7. Ramsey Noah – worth 4.5 million
This half-cast, handsome and romantic actor is one of the most loved and most-respected movie actors that Nigeria has produced. He is known for his romantic acts and tendencies in movies; little wonder, he is regarded as Nollywood’s lover boy. In fact, he is so good at acting such roles, that at a point in time, many Nigerian and Ghanaian ladies who were single and in search for partners, began to wish that their would-be partners would be as handsome and romantic as Ramsey Noah.
He started his acting career in the year 1993, and he has featured in several blockbuster movies since he started acting. Most recently, he featured in Ayo Makun’s ’30 Days in Atlanta’, and the recently released ‘Merry Men: The Real Yoruba Demons’. His current net worth is an estimated 4.5 million dollars.
#8. John Okafor a.k.a Mr. Ibu – worth 4.2 million dollars
John Okafor is the undisputed king of comic acts in the Nigerian movie industry. His mere appearance is known to evoke peals of laughter and excitement from even the most depressed individuals in his audience. He is known to mainly act in comic movies, and even when he acts in non-comical movies, his roles there are always comical in nature. He has only acted non-comical roles a few times in movies, and on each of those occasions, he looked out of place, like a fish out of water. His real domain, is in the comic realm.
John Okafor started acting since as far back as in the year 2004, but was relatively unknown, like many other Nollywood actors at that time. His big break came when he was given a role as a funny man named ‘Mr. Ibu’. He became extremely famous since that movie, and has since become a household name. everyone wants to watch Mr. Ibu act these days, because of his raw skill and ingenuity in making comical acts.
Mr. Ibu does not do much asides acting movies, but he does feature in comedy skits and music videos. Little is known about his family and personal life, but one thing we can say for sure is that he is one of the funniest actors that Nigeria has ever produced. His current net worth is put at 4.2 million dollars.
#9. Nkem Owoh a.k.a ‘Osuofia’ – worth 3.9 million dollars
If there are two Kings of comic action in the Nigerian movie industry. The first, is John Okafor; and the second, is Nkem Owoh, a.k.a Osuofia. Asides RMD, Nkem Owoh is perhaps the oldest actor in the industry today. He started acting since a far back as 1980, and has featured in sesveral dozens of movies since then. He started out small, featuring in movies like ‘New Masqurade’, ‘Things Fall Apart’, ‘Ukwa’, and the likes. He eventually rose to limelight after he featured in a movie titled ‘Osuofia in London’. There, he played the role of an uneducated village chap who somehow, got a ticket to travel to London, and began to display his illiteracy and comic tendencies there. Ever since he featured in that movie, he has been regarded as Osuofia, and he is now a household name.
Other notable movies he has featured in include: ‘A fool at Forty’, ‘Ghana Must Go’, ‘Spanner’, and many more. His current worth is 3.9 million dollars, and he is one of the most respected faces in the industry.
#10. Pete Edochie – worth 3.8 million dollars
Pete Edochie is another person who switched careers to enter acting full time. He is arguably the most respected face in the Nigerian movie industry today. He is known for his mature, fatherly roles in movies.
Before he started acting, he was a broadcaster at Eastern Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation, ENBC. While he worked there, he discovered his passion in acting and eventually transitioned. Before long, he began featuring in movies. His breakthrough came in the movie ‘Things Fall Apart’ in which he played an active role.
He has won many awards, and is still well-respected in Nollywood today. His current net worth is put at 3.8 million dollars.