What Funke Akindele-Bello told CNN’s ‘African Voices’

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By Rotimi Agbana

Nollywood actress, Akindele has featured in countless films and some of the biggest sitcoms in Nigeria. But despite delving into acting as a young adult, the actress also recalls how she started out on a very different career paths.

She recounted her engaging story with CNN’s ‘African Voices’, during the week. Funke also explained why she’s focusing on the next generation of actors.

When she was a child, her parents had differing opinions when it came to her acting dreams. “Growing up was fun for me,” she said, adding “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.”

Funke Akindele

Speaking further, Funke narrated how she compromised and agreed to study for a degree, eventually graduating in law. Following this, she began auditioning for roles and had her big break when she was cast in one of the biggest sitcoms in Lagos, called ‘I Need To Know’.

According to her, “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.”

Akindele is best known for her portrayal of Jenifa, and she explained 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.”

Now working on a new TV drama, which  examines the music industry in Nigeria, called ‘Industreet’, Akindele has also founded ‘Jenifa’s Foundation.’ Explaining the programme’s work, she said, “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.”

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