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I never thought I will be celebrated – Funke Akindele tells CNN’s ‘African Voices’
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I never thought I will be celebrated – Funke Akindele tells CNN’s ‘African Voices’

Yvonne Williams

Popular Nollywood producer and actress Funke Akindele Bello this week sat down with CNN’s ‘African Voices’. During the chat, Funke journeyed down memory lane as she recalled just wanting to showcase her talent when starting out to hitting it big in the movie industry, her big time hit – Jenifa and a whole lot more.

Excerpts from the chat;

“Growing up was fun for me having the support of my mum, she believed so much in my talent, though my dad never wanted me to be an actor – he wanted me to be a lawyer.”

On studying Law to her big break in one of the biggest sitcoms then in Lagos, called ‘I Need To Know’;

“When I started ‘I Need To Know’, I never thought I would be this celebrated. I was 20 years old then. When I shot the pilot I just wanted to do it, I wanted to showcase my God-given talent… I remember the director telling me I was overacting because I was excited about it.”

Funke is best known for her portrayal of Jenifa, and she explains why the character has continued to appeal to audiences:

“Jenifa is witty, she’s crazy, she’s a go getter, she doesn’t want to take no for an answer and I think I have that – I don’t want to take no for an answer.”

CNN hears that Funke’s success as Jenifa led her to establish her own production company, Scene One Productions, as well as bringing many accolades, with her series receiving four awards since 2015. Reflecting on this success Funke tells the programme:

“All I can say is I’m grateful, it’s not easy for you to work hard and people appreciate you.”

Now working on a new TV drama examining the music industry in Nigeria, called ‘Industreet’, Funke has also founded ‘Jenifa’s Foundation’. Explaining the programme’s work, she tells CNN:

“We reach out to young people, we empower them. We help them acquire skills, we help them discover their special gift, their talent in acting and music and dance.”

When asked what her advice would be for upcoming actors and performers in Nigeria, Akindele tells the programme:

“Stay focused. When you know what you want for yourself, when you are focused, you will get there.”

Wise words from Funke!