For a while now, huge names like Richard Mofe-Damijo (RMD), Genevieve Nnaji, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, and Jim Iyke ruled our screens. They were the dream daddies, baddies and bad guys.
Sure, there is a lot to be praised about their talent and work, and we can safely say that they built the foundation, especially when it was less rewarding and made Nollywood the Nollywood we know today.
However, there are new guys on the block and we are talking about young actors in their 20s, proper Gen-Zs with Y2K aesthetics, serving us raw acting talents, award-winning shows, meme-able moments and the whole nine yards.
Some started out as child stars while others are breakout stars, here are our best Gen-Z actors to watch out for:
Iremide ‘Fantasticks’ Adeoye
Iremide, 20, is making waves as Lolu Adeleke, the queer son of Wura Amoo-Adeleke in one of the best series to ever grace our screens, Wura. We can’t deny that the Showmax’s original telenovela has got us in a chokehold and totally adores Iremide’s soft and sweet character, Lolu. He is like the ying to his mother’s yang.
Iremide also played Jason in Africa Magic’s original, Borokini, but his skills are not limited to just acting. He is also a content strategist and percussionist, which explains the name ‘Fantasticks’.
This young star has got a lot of skills and we’ll keep our fingers crossed for this one.
Although you can catch Toluwani George in fun small roles, you’re much more likely to remember her as Eve Adeleke, the loving daughter and sister but potential sister-in-law from hell character in Showmax’s original, Wura. She also starred as Sade in All Na Vibes.
She might not have a lot of films in her filmography yet, but we see the potential in this beautiful actress. Fans of Wura can attest to her great skill in tormenting her future sister-in-law. We can see some Patience Ozokwor in her, and we love it.
Get ready to see more of Uzoamaka Onuoha this year. This star might just be made for award-winning, internationally recognized movies only.
The Imo state-born actress has been in the industry for a while with appearances in If I Am President, Omugwo, and Folly Of Men, but she broke out with her role as Diiche in the same-titled Showmax’s Nigerian original thriller, recently nominated in Best Art Director category at the 9th AMVCAs.
The actress also featured in C J. Obasi’s fantasy film, Mami Wata, which featured at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and dazzled in her role as Nkechi in Swimming in a Sea of Trauma, an Igbo short film premised on a post-Civil War ghost story, which premiered at the 2023 International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR).
2022 was a big year for Genoveva Umeh as stole hearts with her performance in the crime series Blood Sisters, but the Nigerian-British-trained actor first appeared on the big screens.
In the same year, she was nominated for the Best Actress in a Drama award for her first feature film, ‘A Tune Away’ and went on to feature in AMVCA nominated Showmax’s original crime series, Crime and Justice Lagos; as well as Far From Home, One Lagos Night and Love Is War.
Her filmography includes nominations at the British Academy Film Awards (BATFAs) and Sundance Short Prize Winner 2021 in a short film titled ‘Lizard’.
Emeka made waves early this year as a breakout star and meme from the young adult series, Far From Home.
You may have also seen him in another shy nerdy role as Sango in “Rattlesnake: The Ahanna Story” or as Chinedu in the MTV series Shuga but trust us, the real Emeka is nothing like his movie roles with his bold and hilarious takes on Twitter.
With a string of impressive film titles under his belt, including Wallflower, Life 101, Kasala!, Prophetess, and the 24-year-old is quickly becoming a household name in the Nigerian film industry with a distinct character that sets his real life apart from screen roles.
With more Nollywood projects in the works, we are anxious to see how Emeka continues to grow and capture our attention on-and-off screen.
He is not exactly a Gen Z, but this actor is young, talented and got us in a chokehold with his antics in the popular series, Far From Home. This 29-year-old has some serious acting chops and one wouldn’t believe he started his career purely from a chance.
According to the Kasala actor, he started acting in a bid to stave off boredom following a six-month school strike and had his first taste of acting in a stage play. Well, we are happy the strike happened.
His success from Far From Home hasn’t stopped since and you’ll find him in upcoming projects like Water and Sugar. We definitely see AMVCA nominations and a lot of awards in this one’s future.
She might be in the news these days as Johnny Drille’s girlfriend, but we first knew her as Rahila from Far From Home.
Compared to some of the child stars and breakout stars on this list, this 23-year-old actress started her acting career with auditions and worked her way to feature in one of the most talked about series of 2022.
With Viola Davis (a good choice) as her role model, we expect a lot from this rising star, and we wait to see more of her in different roles.
Most actresses who start out as child actors usually have a hard time breaking the mould but that might not seem like a problem for Angel Unigwe.
The 18-year-old actress has played dominant roles in Africa Magic’s Ajoche, King of Boys, Mute, Bereaved: Pains of Aliyah, Olive, Here Love Lies and worked alongside big names like Joke Silva, Rita Dominic, Ngozi Nwosu, Saidi Balogun, Kiki Omeili and Tope Oshin.
Don’t be surprised if you continue to see this promising young actor in a variety of roles in the coming years.
Esther isn’t just the girl from My Siblings and I. She has also starred in the famous family pastime, Papa Ajasco and is open to taking on bigger challenges. The 21-year-old might still be finding her way around TinselTown, but there are certainly more roles and movies in her future as long as she continues to act.
Prince Unigwe is not new to the film and TV industry, although he may have just popped up on your radar. Much like his sister, Angel, he started as a child actor but has worked on some notable projects like Chief Daddy, Schemers, My Siblings and I, and others.
He is the voice behind young Jay Jay in Showmax’s first Nigerian animation series, Jay Jay The Chosen One – a series based on the reimagined childhood of one of Africa’s football legends, Jay Jay Okocha.
From small screens to debuting on streaming platforms like Showmax, we love our young actors for their raw talent, energy, and dedication to the craft.
Most of all, we admire their ability to connect with so many young and older people. We see Hollywood in their future, drinking champagne with Tinseltown’s big guns and we will be rooting for every single one of them, cheering them at every milestone with a bottle of soda and huge smiles on our faces.