By Funmilola Olukomaiya
Launched on the 6th of October 2010, Instagram is amongst social media users, a one-stop app that can almost not be done without.
The American photo and video sharing social networking service owned by Facebook is one social media platform where most celebrities feed their fans and followers realtime information about gists that concern their lives.
With around 1 billion monthly active users, Instagram is a massive platform and hugely popular all over the world.
When it comes to repping your brand and deciding how famous, influential or perhaps successful you are as an entertainer or show biz personality, your social media space, engagement and most importantly, followership is a very important metric.
Celebrities with large followership base have effortlessly been smiling to the bank as their fanbase invariably dictates how big their brand is.
This has been instrumental to raking in endorsement deals or becoming brand influencers while still using the medium to promote their crafts.
Below are ten Nollywood stars with the highest Instagram followers in 2020.
1. Funke Akindele-Bello
One of Nollywood’s finest and versatile actor and producer, Funke Akindele-Bello with 12 million followers remains one of the titans of the Nigerian entertainment industry. Best known for her role as “Jenifa” in “Jenifa Diaries”, Akindele first starred in the sitcom ‘I Need to Know’ which was aired from 1998 to 2002. In 2009, she won the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role and in 2016, she was named Best Actress in a Comedy at the 2016 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards for her character in Jenifa’s Diary. Her continuous rise on Instagram can be connected to her die-hard fans who are loyal to her craft.
2. Ini Edo
Delectable Nollywood screen diva, Ini Edo has to her gain 10.5 million followers on Instagram. The 38-year-old actress began her career in 2000 and has featured in more than 100 movies since her debut. She was a judge for the 2013 Miss Black Africa UK Pageant and was appointed in 2014 by the United Nations as a united Nations Habitat Youth Envoy. As a fashionista, Ini’s fashion statement and beautiful lifestyle is a major attraction on her page.
3. Ayo Makun
Popular comedian, filmmaker and CEO of Corporate World Entertainment Limited, Ayo Makun has to his credit 9.9 million followers on Instagram. He is the host of the A.Y live shows and A.Y comedy skits. A.Y came into the spotlight after being Alibaba Akporobome’s personal assistant and event manager. A.Y also wrote going “A.Y wire” as a guest columnist in The Sun (Nigeria) and Gbenga Adeyinka’s “Laugh Mattaz”. Typical of his Instagram page are birthday shoutouts to his friends, videos and skits from different comedians, including himself and his family photos, especially those of himself and his wife.
4. Mercy Johnson-Okojie
One of Nollywood’s most sought after actresses, Mercy Johnson since joining Instagram, has gained a steady increase in her fan base and has to her credit 9.3 million followers. Mercy after secondary school auditioned for a role in ‘The Maid’ and that ushered her into acting where she got featured in other movies like ‘Hustlers’, ‘Baby Oku in America’, ‘War in the Palace’, etc. Johnson in 2009, won an award for Best Supporting Actress at the 2009 African Movie Award ceremony for her performance in the movie “Live to Remember”, and Best Actress award at the 2013 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards for her role in the comedy movie ‘Dumebi the Dirty Girl’. In December 2011, she was listed as Google’s most searched Nigerian celebrity, a position she also held in 2012. In 2017, Mercy Johnson got appointed as the senior special assistant (SSA) to the Kogi state governor on entertainment, arts and culture.
5. Mercy Aigbe
Award-winning Nollywood actress, filmmaker and fashion entrepreneur, Mercy Aigbe is an Instagram sensation with 9 million followers. The fashion enthusiast is known for serenading her followers with amazing fashion hacks and style inspirations. Aigbe bagged a degree in Theatre Arts from the University of Lagos in 2001 and joined the Nollywood industry fully in 2006. In 2016, she founded “Mercy Aigbe Gentry School of Drama”.
5. Regina Daniels
Regina Daniels, also with 9 million Instagram followers is controversial Nollywood star child actor, Regina Daniels. Daniels started movie making at the age of seven and shot her first movie ‘Marriage of Sorrow’ which earned her N10,000. In January 2019 Daniels was appointed Atiku Abubakar’s Youth Campaign Coordinator. Daniels soon became a sensation and Instagram celebrity when she sparked a lot of conversations as it concerned her marriage to her billionaire husband, Prince Ned Nwoko. Daniels’ Instagram page is known for showcasing her wealth, affluence and until recently, her family.
6. Genevieve Nnaji
The 41-year-old Nollywood screen goddess, producer, and director, also made the list with 8 million Instagram followers making her proud. Nnaji who started her acting career as a child actor in the then-popular television soap opera ‘Ripples’ at the young age of 8 was introduced into the growing Nigerian film industry with the movie ‘Most Wanted’ in 1998 when she turned 19. In 2010, she starred in the award-winning film ‘Ijé: The Journey’ and has starred in over 200 Nollywood movies. Nnaji in 2005 won the Africa Movie Academy Award (AMAA) for Best Actress in a Leading Role, becoming the first actor to win the award. Nnaji was the first actor to be awarded as Best Actress by the Censors Board of Nigeria in 2003. And in 2009, she was referred to as the Julia Roberts of Africa by Oprah Winfrey.
7. Rita Dominic
A fashion icon in her own way, graceful Nollywood screen diva is always a force to reckon with and this has played out well as she has to her gain 6.8 million die-hard fans on Instagram. The multiple award-winning actress, producer, and Co-Founder of The Audrey Silva Company, first starred in the Nollywood hit movie ‘A Time To Kill’. She has since then become known for her ability to thoroughly embody characters. She started acting in local television dramas at the age of 5. She is a graduate of the University of Port Harcourt where she bagged a degree in Theatre Arts before joining the Nigerian film industry in 1998. She is best known for her roles in the groundbreaking films “76”, “The Meeting” and “Shattered” which earned her several prestigious awards. Dominic is the only actress to have won the AMVCAs Best Actress award in both the Drama and Comedy categories. She is also the only West African actress to have won Kenya’s Kalasha Awards. As one of Africa’s biggest movie stars, CNN describes her as a ‘Silver screen icon’, “embodying a range of colourful characters”.
8. Tonto Dikeh
Controversial Nollywood actress, Tonto Dikeh is one popular face on Instagram and this has garnered her 6.4 million followers. Dikeh is a humanitarian who on 27 August 2000, set up her foundation; The Tonto Dikeh Foundation. The Foundation was established to make life better for all displaced and under privilege women, girls, youth, and children in Africa, irrespective of their Politically, Religious and Cultural differences. On the 27th of April 2018, Dikeh bagged an endorsement deal with the National Agency For Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP) on human trafficking.
9. Toyin Abraham
Sensational Nollywood actress, filmmaker, director and producer, Toyin Abraham is just a delight and one can’t but love her. With 5.9 million die-hard fans also known as ‘Toyin Titans’, Abraham is one of the most loved and trolled on social media. Toyin began her acting in 2003, when foremost Nollywood actor, Bukky Wright, visited Ibadan to shoot a movie. Toyin has over the years, produced, directed and featured in several Nigerian films, such as ‘Alani Baba Labake’, ‘Ebimi ni’ and a host of others. She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Yoruba film titled ‘Ebimi ni’ at the 2013 Best of Nollywood Awards alongside Joke Muyiwa, who was nominated for Best Lead Actress in a Yoruba film titled ‘Ayitale’. Toyin went to Osun State Polytechnic, Iree, from 2005 to 2007, where she had her Pre-National Diploma, and Ordinary National Diploma. She obtained a Higher National Diploma Certificate in Marketing from Ibadan Polytechnic.
10. Omotola Jalade-Ekehinde
Prominent Nollywood actress, singer, and philanthropist, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde is one of Nigeria’s leading actresses, as well as, one of the most followed on social media with 4.9 million followers on Instagram. Since her Nollywood film debut in 1995, Ekeinde has appeared in over 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 Africa’s biggest star. The Real Omosexy’s critically acclaimed breakout role came in the 1995 film, “Mortal Inheritance”, in which she portrayed an ill woman combating sickle-cell disease earned her several awards, including, Best Actress in an English Speaking Movie and Best Actress overall at the 1996/97 Thema Awards, while the film itself is revered today as one of Nigeria’s best ever made.
11. Odunlade Adekola
Abeokuta-born multi-talented and award-winning Nollywood actor, singer, producer and director, Odunlade Adekola has not only won the hearts of many on screen, but also on social media and this is evident with his 4.5 million followership base. The 41-year-old fine actor gained popularity with his lead role in Ishola Durojaye’s 2003 movie, ‘Asiri Gomina Wa’. Adekola bagged a diploma certificate at the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic before proceeding to further his education at the University of Lagos where he bagged a degree in Bachelors of Business Administration in May 2018. He began acting in 1996, the same year he joined the Association of Nigeria Theatre Arts practitioners. In April 2014, he won the Africa Movie Academy Award for the best actor of the year.