Tiwa Savage, Burna Boy, and other Nigerian musicians transition from Afrobeats to Nollywood

In recent years, the lines between Nigeria’s vibrant music and film industries have increasingly blurred. Prominent Nigerian musicians have ventured into the Nigerian movie industry otherwise known as Nollywood, bringing their charisma and storytelling prowess to the big screen. This cross-industry collaboration has not only enriched Nollywood but also showcased the versatility and multifaceted talents of Nigerian artists.

Tiwa Savage

Tiwa Savage, a leading figure in the Afrobeats movement, has expanded her artistic footprint into acting. Known for her powerful vocals and dynamic performances, Tiwa’s evolution as an artiste has been marked by her ability to seamlessly blend different genres and styles. In a recent interview with CNN’s Larry Madowo, she discussed her sound and fashionable aesthetic, emphasising her commitment to artistic growth.

Tiwa’s acting debut came in the MTV series Shuga, followed by an appearance in the popular series Jenifa’s Diary. Her most significant foray into film is Water and Garri, which  just premiered on Prime Video. In the film, she plays Aisha, an ambitious fashion designer who returns to her hometown only to confront the harsh realities of escalating violence. This role not only highlights her acting chops but also her willingness to tackle complex, socially relevant narratives.

Burna Boy

Burna Boy, another heavyweight in the Afrobeats scene, is set to make his Nollywood debut in a big way. Transitioning from music to film, Burna Boy is the executive producer of Three Cold Dishes, a gripping thriller directed by Asurf Oluseyi that addresses the harrowing issue of sex trafficking. The film follows three teenagers who, after being sold into the sex trade, reunite years later to seek revenge.

Burna Boy’s involvement in film extends beyond acting, with his production company Spaceship Films, co-founded with Bose Ogulu, taking a leading role in the film’s creation. This move signals his commitment to fostering stories that resonate deeply with audiences, while also contributing to the growth of African cinema.

Yemi Alade

Yemi Alade, celebrated for her vibrant music and energetic performances, made her acting debut in Omo Ghetto: The Saga. Directed by JJC Skillz and Funke Akindele, the film features Yemi as Mogambe, the leader of a drug trafficking gang. Her portrayal in the film underscores her versatility and her ability to embody diverse characters convincingly.


Folarin Falana, known as Falz, has successfully straddled the worlds of music and film. Known for his witty lyrics and humorous persona, Falz has appeared in several Nollywood productions, including 10 Days in Sun City, Brotherhood, Merry Men, Quam’s Money and Chief Daddy. His role in Jenifa’s Diary earned him the African Magic Viewers Choice Award (AMVCA) for Best Actor in a Comedy Movie or Series. Falz’s seamless transition from music to film highlights his multifaceted talent and appeal.


Reminisce, another prominent Nigerian rapper, made his acting debut in Kemi Adetiba’s King of Boys. Portraying Makanaki, a formidable mobster, Reminisce captivated audiences with his intense performance. His role in the film was widely praised, demonstrating his ability to bring a menacing character to life on screen.

Banky W

Olubankole Wellington, known as Banky W, has balanced a successful career in music, entrepreneurship and even ventured into politics with notable performances in Nollywood. His acting credits include Sugar Rush, The Wedding Party and Up North. Banky W’s involvement in film showcases his versatility and his commitment to exploring various creative avenues.


David Adedeji Adeleke, popularly known as Davido, has taken his global musical influence into the realm of acting. He appeared in the Nigerian film Fate of Alakada, a satirical take on social media culture, and made his Hollywood debut in Coming 2 America. Davido’s foray into acting underscores his global appeal and his willingness to diversify his artistic portfolio.

Several other Nigerian musicians have in recent times also made significant strides in acting. Waje starred in the series She Must Be Obeyed, tackling issues in the music industry. Peter Okoye, known as Mr P, appeared in the film Lionheart, directed by Genevieve Nnaji. Phyno also starred in Lionheart, playing a supportive sibling role. Simi made her acting debut in Mokalik, directed by Kunle Afolayan. Lastly, Chike, known for his music and reality TV stints, acted in Gangs of Lagos and the telenovela Battleground.

But long before the aforementioned musicians even found their way to the microphone let alone act, there was Onyeka Onwenu, 2Baba, Shina Peters, Pasuma and a host of others.

Onyeka Onwenu

Onyeka Onwenu, who wears many hats as musician, actress, singer-songwriter, journalist, politician, has been prominent in the Nigerian music industry since the 1980s. Onwenu has starred in several Nollywood films, including Half of a Yellow Sun (2013) and Omalicha (2015).


2Baba, also known as Tuface Idibia, is a singer, songwriter, record producer and entrepreneur. He is considered one of the most influential artistes in Africa. Idibia has also acted in several Nollywood films, including Blood Money (2017).

Shina Peters

Shina Peters, known for his Afrojuju music, has also appeared in a number of Nigerian films, including Money Power (1984) directed by Ola Balogun and Sango (1997).


Pasuma Wonder 

Pasuma Alabi, a Fuji musician, has starred in a number of Nollywood films, including Iru Oka (2006) and Gbomo Gbomo (2015).

These are just a few of the many veteran Nigerian musicians who have made their mark in Nollywood. The crossover of Nigerian musicians into Nollywood brings their unique sensibilities and fan bases, enriching the narratives and expanding the reach of Nollywood films. This synergy not only fosters a richer cultural output but also strengthens Nigeria’s cultural influence on a global scale.

As Nigerian musicians continue to explore acting, the boundaries of both industries are being pushed, leading to innovative and compelling storytelling. This trend signifies a bright future for Nigerian entertainment, where music and film together craft a more dynamic and influential cultural landscape.

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