Ten Nigerian youth have made their participation and successes in reality TV shows the ticket to establish their soaring careers in the entertainment industry
No doubt, the journey to the limelight is not a smooth ride. Not with challenges and confrontations to summoned in the sojourn from grass to grace. This is even more hard in Nigeria’s competitive entertainment industry.
Some stars were able to make it through the support of family and friends while others are just on their own in the struggle to get to the top.
In recent times, several organizations have created platforms, through reality TV shows for budding talents to compete, groom their skills and keep their dreams alive.
Even though not everyone who went through the grill and drill of reality shows had the tenacity to sustain the fame, some Nigerians have been able to do this.
This is a list of ten of such stars
- Yemi Eberechi Alade
Yemi Alade, an Afropop singer and songwriter, won the 2009 edition of the Peak Talent Show. And for over a decade, since winning the talent show, the 32-year-old has gone to win many music awards as a testimony of her awesome singing talent.
The singing sensation, who has proven her mettle as one of the best female singers in Africa, is not just reputed for her rhythmic disposition, but her gait and poise. Her dancing steps to her music is always a fascination to behold. The “Johnny” crooner has proven that her winning of the Peak show was no fluke.
- Ikenna Alex Ekubo-Okwaraeke
Even though Alexx Ekubo’s movie debut was a minor role in “Sinners in the House” in 2005, his acting career got on a fast lane when he became the first runner up at the 2010 Mr Nigeria contest.
The Abia State indigene, who is a graduate of Law from the University of Calabar, is also a model and media personality.
His acting roles in television series include Secrets & Scandals, Hope Bay, Happy Family and Tinsel. His film roles include starring in Weekend Getaway, Ladies Men, True Citizens, In the Cupboard, Undercover Lover, Gbomo Gbomo Express, Entreat, The Other Side of the Coin, 3 is a Crowd, Bling Lagosians, Zero Hour and Your Excellency.
He has won some awards including Most Promising Actor at 2012 Best of Nollywood Awards, Best Supporting Actor at 2013 Best of Nollywood Awards and the Favorite Male Emerging Screen Talent(African).
As a model, he was in Arise Magazine Fashion Week 2011 & 2012
Besides his acting and modelling career, Alex is a brand ambassador for many leading brands.
- Uti Nwachukwu
Actor and media personality, Uti won the coveted 2010 Big Brother Africa, Season 5. This was after his failure at the 2008 edition. Ever since the 38-year-old Delta native has won acclaims as a brilliant actor while also making a name for himself as a TV host.
He co-hosts the popular African Magic program, Jara and “The Winner Is” reality show.
- Iyanya Onoyom Mbok
Fondly called the Kukere Master, the singer won the 2008 MTN Project Fame reality show. Since that breakthrough, the 34-year-old Calabar native has taken his musical career up and making himself relevant in Nigeria’s music space.
Although his first two singles after winning the reality show didn’t make many waves due to what many considered their sultry nature, Iyanya recreated his music to become a club-banger for Nigerians. This brought about his hit single “Kukere”.
To date, Iyanya is still well recognized as a party master in Nigeria.
- Abisola Aiyeola:
Actress, singer and media personality, Bisola Aiyeola was the first runner-up of Big Brother Naija, 2017. Since shinning in the reality show, Bisola has gone to tap on the fame and exposure from the BBN show to carve out a career in entertainment. She won the 2018 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA) Trailblazer Award.
The BBN was not the first reality show Bisola was in, she had earlier came fifth at the 2008 MTN Project Fame West Africa show.
Since coming into the limelight she has been involved in some big-budget films. These include Forever With Us, Payday, Two Grannies And A Baby, Gold Statue, Picture Perfect, and Sugar Rush
She made her movie production debut as a co-producer of ‘The Kujus,’ while she is the host of Africa Magic’s ‘Shoot Your Shot’.
The mother of one, who is a bundle of talents, has also released some musical singles including ‘Controlla,’ ‘Heartbroken,’ ‘Lucia’, and ‘Good Old Day’ to show that she has musical talent.
In an interview, she said her career has gone through a radical positive transformation since her participation in her last reality show, BBN.
“I have seen growth in myself and my career, there are certain choices that I have made that a lot of people say I have done this and done that but it’s carefully thought out and planned by a team behind me,” she said.
- Omawunmi Megbele
The singer, songwriter and actress was the 2007 runner-up on West African Idols, a reality TV show.
A Law graduate from Ambrose Alli University, Omawunmi briefly worked as a lawyer before getting into the show business and her participation in the Idols West Africa show.
She released her single debut “In The Music” in 2008 and her debut album: “Wonderwoman“ in 2009. She won a 2009 Headies as the Best Vocal Performance (Female).
Her acting debut was in the 2009 edition of the V-Monologues, a stage play while her screen debut was in 2010 in the African Movies Academy Award (AMAA)’s award-winning film, Inale. In 2019, she became a movie producer by co-producing ‘She Is’ with Waje. She also starred in the film.
She is a brand ambassador for Globacom, Konga.com, and Malta Guinness.
- Timi Dakolo
Revered as the king of soul music in Nigeria, Timi Dakolo rose to national consciousness as the winner of the first and only Idols West Africa in 2007.
Grooming his musical talent since the age of 12, the “Iyawo Mi” crooner has been garnering attention and wins from local talent hunt shows before winning big at the idols.
Between 2007 and now, the 40-year-old vocalist’s flame of excellence has been burning bright with his inspirational pieces of music.
With a unique voice and music considered to be mature, Timi Dakolo has performed at many presidential shows.
- Oyekunle Opeyemi Oluwaremi
The handsome actor shot into the limelight, by unexpectedly winning the 7th edition of Gulder Ultimate Search in 2010. In the show noted for its brawn, Kunle was an audience favourite with his charm and brain, which he used at the last stage to upstage his two other final co-contestants who were stronger than him.
After winning the show, Kunle went on to enrol at the New York Film Academy to horn his acting and production skills.
As an actor, Kunle has won critical reviews in some productions including Falling, Family Forever (films); Lagos Cougars Reloaded, Forbidden and Tinsel (TV series).
Kunle has also worked as a TV reporter for an Internet TV channel, Celebville 360, covering the Oscar Awards nomination event in the USA.
As a model, he has featured in campaigns for Airtel Nigeria, MTN Nigeria, DStv, and Diamond Bank.
Kunle was recently crowned ‘King of TikTok in Nigeria’ by the social media audience.
Reflecting on his career in an interview, he said:
“Taking a look back about how my career started, it was never easy for me, there were a lot of obstacles, rejections, but at the end of the day persistence, discipline and God most importantly helped pave a way to this very point. I am grateful for the rejection that I faced because it motivated me to become the person I am. However, none of the rejections that I got weighed me down, instead, it propelled me to do better and try again.”
- Mercy Eke:
The Imo State University graduate became a household name in Nigeria by becoming the first lady to win the Big Brother Nigeria reality show. She won the Season 4 edition in October 2019.
In the last two years, Mercy, who auditioned for Big Brother Naija four times before becoming a contestant, has seen her fame risen as a media personality, actress, video vixen and entrepreneur.
She won the Scream Awards for Celebrity Sensation of the year in 2019 and the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Award (AMVCA) for Best Dressed Female in 2020.
Gradually creating a name for herself in Nollywood, Mercy made her acting debut in Fate of Alakada last year.
She is also a Brand Ambassador for some brands and a social media influencer.
She was a Speaker at the eighth edition of the Nigerian Entertainment Conference (NECLive).
- Kenneth Obinna Okolie.
Actor and model, Okolie rose to prominence following his big win as Mr Nigeria in 2010, four years after starting his modelling career. In that same year, he emerged as the 2nd runner-up at the Mr World competition.
These successes and recognition helped birth Okolie’s acting career in 2011. For about a decade now, the 37-year-old Anambra native had carved a niche for himself in the Nollywood industry with his fashion statements that perfectly suit his physique.