Beauty which is not only seen by the eyes but also felt by the heart gets the attention; personality captures the heart. Beauty isn’t about having pretty face, but possessing pretty mind, pretty heart and pretty soul.
Looking at the many celebrated pretty faces in the Africa film industry at large, there are quite a lot of them cutting across different countries of the continent. These alluring personalities are not just a beauty to behold but also a pride and worthy ambassadors of their individual countries.
As I run through my list and present to you in no particular order my ten (10) selected beautiful African actresses; according to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s ‘I’m not the smartest fellow in the world, but I can sure pick smart colleagues”.
Words: Sunday Obembe (Managing Editor)
Genevieve Nnaji a native Mbiase, Imo State, Nigeria grew up in Lagos, and attended Methodist Girls College (Yaba, Lagos), before gaining admission into the University of Lagos. At age 8 she started her acting career in an erstwhile television soap opera ‘Ripples’. At the age of 19 she was introduced into the growing Nigerian film industry with the movie ‘Most Wanted ‘ and has moved on to doing other fantastic movies. The rest is now history, as she has been considered to be one of the best paid actresses in Nollywood. In 2009, she was referred to as the Julia Roberts of Africa by Oprah Winfrey. She had a recording contract with EKB Records, a Ghanaian record label, and released her debut album ‘One Logologo Line’, a mix of R&B, Hip-Hop and Urban music.
Nnaji who has some awards to her credit has featured in several commercials some of which include those of Pronto beverage and Omo detergent. In 2004 she became the ‘Face of Lux’ in Nigeria. She also launched the ‘St Genevieve’ clothing line in 2008 donating its proceeds to charity. In May 2010 she was appointed to be the official ‘Face of MUD’ in Nigeria.
Omotola Jolade-Ekehinde is an award winning Nigerian actress, singer, philanthropist and former model of an Ondo descent from Lagos, Nigeria. Since her Nollywood film debut in 1995, the leading actress has appeared in 300 films, selling millions of video copies. After receiving numerous high-profile awards, launching a music career, and amassing an enviable fan base, the press has revered the Screen Nation 'Best Actress' as The ‘African Magic’. She is the first African celebrity to receive over 1 million likes on her Facebook page.
She is also applauded for her remarkable humanitarian efforts became a United Nations WFP (World Food Programme) Ambassador in 2005 going to missions in Sierra- Leone and Liberia. Omotola has been active in the Walk the World project and participated in the Walk the World campaign in Liberia with President Ellen Sir Leaf-Johnson, just to keep it brief.
In 2012, Omotola launched her own reality show ‘Omotola: The Real Me’ on Africa Magic Entertainment, a M-Net subsidiary broadcast on DStv. Making her the first Nigerian celebrity to star in their own reality show. In 2013, she was honoured in Time Magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world alongside Michelle Obama, Beyonce and Kate Middleton. Also in early 2013, she made her US television debut in VH1's scripted series, ‘Hit the Floor’. 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 cinema.
Juliet Ibrahim, who has been referred to as the ‘Most Beautiful West African Woman’ by A-listers Magazine, is a Ghanaian actress, film maker, singer and humanitarian of Lebanese, Liberian and Ghanaian descent. She made her acting debut in the 2005 film ‘Crime to Christ’ starring Majid Michel. Juliet's first Nollywood film was Yankee Boys and she has features in more than 50 films afterwards. In 2014 she produced her first film ‘Number One Fan’ then ‘Shattered Romance’ which paraded Nigerian and Ghanaian actors, launched amidst fanfare in Accra, Ghana on the 5th of December 2014.
She won the Best Actress in a Leading Role category at the 2010 Ghana Movie Awards for her role in ‘4 Play’. In 2014 she released a music video for her hit song ‘It’s Over Now’ featuring General Pype. She also has a music video ‘Traffic Jam’ and 'Sholala'.
Elizabeth Michael Lulu was born in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. She is a composer and actress, known for ‘The Profit’, ‘Splitter’ and ‘Bongoland 2: There Is No Place like Home’. The name Lulu is one popular topic in Tanzania since the death of The Great actor,Steven Kanumba. She is the only last person to see Steven Kanumba alive, as he passed away in the same room with her.
Yvone Chinyere Okoro is a Ghanaian actress of Nigerian and Ghanaian origin who made her screen debut in ‘Sticking to the Promise’; a 2002 movie produced by the Nigerian producer Theo Akatugba, just after her Senior High Education. She also played a cameo role in the hit series ‘Tentacles’ by the same producer. Those roles paved way for her to feature in ‘Beyonce’, her first major movie. When the issue of searching for Jackie Appiah’s resemblances came up, Yvonne was chosen as the ‘doppelganger’.
She has received Ghana Movie Awards Best Actress Award in 2010 and was nominated for African Movie Academy Awards Best Actress twice in a row in 2011 and 2012 for her movies ‘Pool Party’ and ‘Single Six’. She has also received four Africa Magic Viewers' Choice Award and in 2012 was honoured with a Distinguished Achievement Award at the Nigeria Excellence Awards. She is among the top best actresses in Ghana and known for her remarkable performances.
She has since featured in numerous Ghanaian and Nigerian movies. She also featured in a movie in France. Currently she is one of the highest paid actresses with great commercial value.
Nadia Buari born in Takoradi, Ghana is the daughter of Sidiku Buari, a Ghanaian producer cum musician. She studied Performing Arts at the University of Ghana and graduated with a BFA degree. She premiered on Ghanaian national television with the TV series ‘Games People Play’ in late 2005. Her first major film was ‘Mummy's Daughter’, after which she starred in ‘Beyonce: The President's Daughter’. Her role as ‘Beyonce’ was her major breakthrough, which she got nominated for best actress. In 2013 she came out with her own movie called ‘The Diary of Imogen Brown’.
In 2013, she won the Pan African Actress award at the annual Nigerian Entertainment Awards (NEA Awards) in New York. As a reputed actress, she continues to stand tall among peers in her career leading to some amazing recognitions across the globe. The 2014 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards gave her a 'Special Recognition Award' in Accra, Ghana.
Rita Dominic is a member of the Royal Waturuocha family of Aboh Mbaise in Imo State. She attended Federal Government College, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, before heading to the University of Port Harcourt, where she graduated with a BA (Hons.) degree in Theatre Arts in 1999.
Rita’s passion for the screen kicked off as a child appearing in school plays and children's television shows in Imo state. In 1998 she starred in her first movie ‘A time to kill’. She has starred in over 100 Nollywood productions.
She won the City People Awards in 2004 as the Most Outstanding Actress and in 2012 she won the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
Mercy Aigbe is a household name in Nollywood, especially in the Yoruba sector of the film industry. The Benin, Edo State-born actress has one of the sexiest shapes in the industry, despite having had two children.
The University of Lagos graduate has managed to steer clear scandals. She also won the Best Actress in Yoruba award at the City People Awards held in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
Lupita Nyong’o is an international filmmaker and actress born in Mexico City, Mexico to Kenyan parents; she’s known for her Academy Award-winning role as Patsey in Steve McQueen's ‘12 Years a Slave’.
Lupita started acting as a teen in Kenya and went on to work behind the scenes of the film ‘The Constant Gardener’. She directed and produced the albinism documentary ‘In My Genes’ and starred in the TV series ‘Shuga’.
Nyong'o starred opposite Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore in 2014’s Non-Stop, a thriller about an air marshal confronted by a deadly ransom threat. In June 2014, Disney’s Lucas film announced that the Oscar winner has joined the cast of the ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’. The film is scheduled to premiere in late 2015.
Moitheri Pheto is a South African actress cum model; new face of L'Oréal, raised in Soweto and best known for her leading role as Miriam in the 2005 Oscar-winning feature film ‘Tsotsi’.She has acted in television series which include the SABC1 drama series Justice for All (as Lerato), Zone 14 (as Pinky Khumba) and ‘Jacob's Cross’, as Mbali. She played the key role of Fikile in the SABC2 mini-series ‘Hopeville’. The series was later made into an award-winning film.
In 2011, after leaving South Africa to try her luck in Hollywood, she landed a recurring role of a heart surgeon, Dr. Malaika Maponya, on the American soap opera ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’. She was the subject of an episode of the Nicky Greenwall-hosted documentary series ‘The Close Up’, which aired on e.tv and the eNews Channel in 2012. In the same year she was a featured subject in the first episode of the second season of the SABC1 reality series ‘Play Your Part’, aired on 9 July 2012.
Having seen the interesting achievements of the above beauties, you can now attest to the fact that it’s not just only about these pretty faces but also their contributions towards their chosen professions and humanity at large.