Funke Akindele Biography
Akindele Olufunke Ayotunde, popularly known as Funke Akindele is a Nigerian actress. She was born on August 24, 1976 in Ikorodu, Lagos State, Nigeria.
She is the second of three children (two girls and one boy). Her mother is a medical doctor while her father is a retired school principal. She obtained an Ordinary National Diploma (OND) in Mass Communication from the former Ogun State Polytechnic, now Moshood Abiola Polytechnic and got a Law degree from the University of Lagos, Akoka, Yaba.
Funke Akindele came to limelight after featuring in popular United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) sponsored sitcom; I Need to Know, which ran from 1998 to 2002. She played Bisi, a curious but highly intelligent secondary school student. Funke Akindele’s big break came in 2009 from the movie titled Jenifa. Funke Akindele has over a 100 movies to her credit as actress, writer and producer.
In 2009 she won the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Funke Akindele also plays the lead character in the hit TV show Jenifa’s Diary, alongside Fisayo Ajisola, Falz, Lolo and more. The show is a spin-off from the movie titled Jenifa.
She runs a non-governmental organisation known as THE JENIFA FOUNDATION, whose aims and objectives involves nurturing talents and acquiring vocational skills.
Funke Akindele Age
She was born on August 24, 1976.
Funke Akindele Marriage – Funke Akindele Wedding
The actress walked down the aisle on Tuesday, August 23, 2016 with her beau, Abdulrasheed Bello in London, United Kingdom at a quiet wedding witnessed by immediate family members, the best man, maid of honour and friends with strong ties.
Speaking as to why the wedding was somehow private, she said, “The decision to do it quietly was right for us and we pray for the understanding of our close friends and fans at this offer of a lifetime moment. At a good time, we shall look back and in appreciation of divine grace and your support, we shall celebrate milestones and where we are in life.’
Funke Akindele Husband
Funke was previously wedded to Kenny Oyolede in 2012 but ended in divorce. She is now married to Nigerian rapper, born Abdul Rasheed Bello, popularly known as JJC Skillz.
Funke Akindele Child
She is pregnant with her first child. She was seen with her cute baby bump anchoring a show sponsored by the telecoms giant Glo.
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Funke Akindele Movies
- Final Whistle
- Final Whistle 2
- Atlanta 2
- Agbara Ife
- 13th Day: Ojo Ketala
- 13th Day: Ojo Ketala 2
- Osuwon Eda
- Odun Baku
- Agbefo 2
- Okun Ife Yi
- Oba Irawo
- Edunjobi 2
- Baye Se Nlo
- Taiwo Taiwo
- Taiwo Taiwo 2
- Omo Pupa
- Kakai Leku
- Jenifa Jenifa
- Atanpako Meta
- Apoti Orogun
- Aje Meta
- Aje Meta 2
- Iro Funfun
- Ija Ola
- Ija Ola 2
- Anointed Liars
- Anointed Liars 2
- Ladies Gang
- Ladies Gang 2
- Maami Maami
- New Horizons
- Blood is Money
- A Trip to Jamaica
Funke Akindele with Nigeria Entertainment Today correspondent
How do you cope with so much work?
Funke Akindele: It’s by the grace of God. I sleep like seven hours in the night and crash like one hour in the car.
Six, seven hours?
Funke Akindele: I have to because of the stress of my job. We’re always on set acting. The light is really hot. And it won’t be good if you don’t eat and sleep. So I try my best to eat and sleep well. I need that energy to keep pushing on.
Let’s go way back, probably to the time you were born. Give me a brief description of your family. Where you grew up?
Funke Akindele: I grew up in Lagos, I come from Lagos. I have three siblings. Two girls and a boy.
Where in Lagos did you grow up?
Funke Akindele: Somolu, Surulere. My mum is a gynaecologist, my father, an educationist. Growing up was fun, I was more of a tom boy, playful. I had fun.
How much did television at that point in time influenced you, your mum being a gynaecologist and dad educationist, were they strict? Did you have access to TV, comics?
Funke Akindele: Yeah, definitely I was given access to watch TV and read comics. We were given access to it. Just make sure you’re silent. You read your books. You do the right thing at the right time.
So from primary school to secondary school; Which secondary school?
Funke Akindele: Lagos state model college, Igbo-okuta.
Let’s fast forward to when you were featured in the very popular ‘I Need To Know’ series. How did that come about?
Funke Akindele: Well my first experience for the camera was on Opa Williams set, ‘Naked Wire’. I featured in a film.
How did you get the role?
Funke Akindele: I just attended the audition and Opa Williams is such a gentle man. I heard about the audition then, I was given a role. After then, I was on I.T at APCON I just told my boss, ‘oga I want to go for this audition’. He was like, ‘go, go, go’.
How old were you then?
Funke Akindele: I was past teenage years. I went, and I got a role.
So in the series you had to play down your age, the character in the script was quite younger than you were. How did you manage it?
Funke Akindele: At first I found it a bit difficult. My director was always complaining on set. You’re not talking like a teenager. You need to talk like a teenager. I got home a bit sad. And my younger sister said ‘why are you worried?’. ‘They’re going to take the role from me o’, I would answer. Then she would take a look at my script. ‘What are you supposed to say?’ ‘No mummy, yes mummy’. Just say it like that, and I went back and I did it like that, and I got the role. So she taught me how to play like a teenager.
The other people you were working with they were also playing younger roles…
Funke Akindele: Yes, they were young. They were fairly young.
So they were playing their part?
Funke Akindele: Yes, they were young. They were teenagers. Averagely you were above their age.
How long did the series last?
Funke Akindele: Still on air. It lasted for two to five years.
I think the first two, three years was very fantastic. And I don’t know what happened…
Funke Akindele: They brought in new people.
So after ‘I Need To Know’ there were a few years of…
Funke Akindele: Trying to get roles.
Tell us about it…
Funke Akindele: That was a very trying moment. It was really tough.
So you went straight into Nollywood?
Funke Akindele: Yes, I went into Nollywood. I met Kunle Coker. He helped me to get roles. He was supportive. But it was difficult to get roles on television. You’ll talk, talk, read, read, but they wouldn’t give you the role.
Why didn’t you move straight to series that were airing on TV as at that time?
Funke Akindele: I tried. I was on ‘Every Day People’. I was on I think ‘Izozo’, but they weren’t like ‘I Need to Know’.
So you rather went for Nollywood?
Funke Akindele: Yes, when I didn’t get the big break.
What was the first Yoruba movie you featured in?
Funke Akindele: It was Kolade Alabi’s ‘Iroka’. The producer told me about the movie at an event. I was part of the movie in Osogbo. I played a very minor role. It was in Ayo Adesanya’s ‘Heart Breaker’, after then I crossed over to the faculty where you have Yinka Quadri, Ogogo, Abe Lanre, Yemi Alabi. They welcomed me, featured me in their movies, and I started my first major role. My first lead role was in ‘Ojo Ketala’. Coincidentally, that was my first experience as a producer.
So almost immediately you became a producer. Where did you get the experience from?
Funke Akindele: I believe I could do it and I started it. I watched how they did it. I’ve been on different production sets and watched how they do it. They call people from different departments, different professionals. Finally I wrote my script, I invited the director of photography and the director. How are we going to do this, call this make-up artist, call this wardrobe person. And I gathered them together and we did the movie.
Prior to you featuring in Yoruba films, you’ve been reading scripts in English. What was it like speaking Yoruba in a movie?
Funke Akindele: I speak Yoruba very well, I speak Yoruba at home. My mum would say, ‘speak English, English is good, but speak Yoruba, ‘omo Yoruba ni e’, so it wasn’t difficult.
Who invested in your first movie?
Funke Akindele: My mum
So she believed so much in you?
Funke Akindele: She believed in me
How about your dad?
Funke Akindele: My dad wanted me to be a lawyer. So my father would just tell me then, ‘go back, go to school, go and study law’.
How does he feel now?
Funke Akindele: Now he’s cool with it.
Are you going to consider practicing Law?
Funke Akindele: Nope
Funke Akindele: Nope.
Has it ever crossed your mind to make your dad happy?
Funke Akindele: Please I don’t practice Law. But it reflects in my script. It’s good that I studied law. It helped in writing my scripts.
Funke Akindele: Like if you watch my films it’s all about crime rate, arm robbery like when they want to start a case in court and all that. It helped.
So after ‘Ojo Ketala’, what was the next movie?
Funke Akindele: After ‘Ojo Ketala’ I did, I think ‘Etanu’. I met Hakeem Balogun who’s become my best producer since date.
So how many films have you produced?
Funke Akindele: Over ten films.
What Inspired the Jenifa Movie?
Funke Akindele: I just felt like impacting the youths with a solid message. A lot of girls out there do things they really shouldn’t. Some are ‘aristos’ and stand the chance of losing their lives through dangerous ways – including contacting HIV. And other things that should be set straight, I wrote the movie myself.
Why take the comedic route to preach such a serious message?
Funke Akindele: I felt I should talk about sustaining good morals but in a way one would laugh but still walk home with a message. ‘Jenifa’ isn’t boring, so you will watch and equally get the moral of the story at the end.
Did you ever looked for someone to play the role of Jenifa?
Funke Akindele: Yes I did, but couldn’t find anyone. Ronke Oshodi almost fit the role but she was too big in stature for Jenifa’s character. I wanted Jenifa to be smaller in size. I had to play the part when I couldn’t get anyone to fill up the role.
Tell us about the ‘Omo Ghetto’
Funke Akindele: Yes. I did Omo Ghetto to reach out to young people in the ghetto. That they can be responsible, they can use their God-given talent and acquired skill to better their lives, of their family and that of the nation. Because a lot of people from the ghetto – the pick pockets, touts, the young people that came to rob me when I was shooting Omo Ghetto, are so young. So young!! It was sad, but we thank God. I’m alive.
Did you try talking to them?
Funke Akindele: Yeah, yeah, even when one was trying to hit me, but his accomplice started begging like, ‘ema fo wokan yen o’. I felt so bad, so sad for them. I heard they’ve been arrested you know. And I feel bad. I hope they’ll change. I hope they’ll be given another chance. You know these are supposed to be the leaders of tomorrow, why waste away? Those are the people that inspired ‘Omo Ghetto’.
What inspired your passion for Nigerian youth?
Funke Akindele: Urm, I had an experience before Jenifa. I met this young girl. I think she’s living in Ijora. A very pretty girl. She speaks good English. She went to a public school. She knows how to braid hair. And she’s trying to get back to school. I met her. She’s so close to me. And I would give her money. ‘Are you okay?’, ‘how are you?’. So I met this young girl, and I think she’s got a good heart. I can do something for the young people. Why can’t I reach out to them through my movie and my N.G.O, The Jenifa Foundation? That’s how we started.
So which one came first? The deal with GLO or the deal with the Lagos State Government?
Funke Akindele: (Laughs) Everything came together. The only thing I can say is that I’m happy to be a Glo Ambassador. Glo is for the gbo gbo bix girls. And we have a lot to offer our subscribers, check out the…
Don’t, don’t, (Laughs).
Then Lagos state, I’m from Lagos state.
Which part in Lagos?
Funke Akindele: Ikorodu.
A lot of your peers have taken a very long time before they said, ‘I think I can produce too’. Why was your own so sure. Why was your own quite quick?
Funke Akindele: Because I knew what I wanted to do. And everything’s by God grace. Not by might.
Would you still create more characters, more movies for Jenifa? I mean there’s a ‘Return of Jenifa’. Though it kind of shows a sense of ending.
Funke Akindele: For now, but tomorrow. Like Madea, Madea was in ‘I Can Do About Myself’, she’s was in ‘Madea’s Happy Family’, we loved Madea, but she’s crazy. She’s got something for you.
Tyler Perry is the richest entertainer right now in the US. Why is she your role model? Apart from being the richest entertainer.
Funke Akindele: Not because of that. Because of his work.
Because of his work. When did you start following up?
Funke Akindele: I can’t even remember.
Okay. What next?
Funke Akindele: We’re resting now
But what next?
Funke Akindele: We’re resting. Keep your fingers crossed. The energy that we put into the ‘Return of Jenifa’, oh my God, it was crazy, it was challenging, it was tasking. Getting all the cast together. To even get the content. It was a big job. Don’t forget the expectation was also high.
How much do you charge for a movie role?
Funke Akindele: For a movie role? Ah, oma kpo gan. O to 50million.
How much last?
Funke Akindele: Ah, I can’t mention. It depends on the person. I can even do it free of charge. If the script is so strong and it’s something I can handle.
Have you ever thought taking up a role in Hollywood? Something not in Nigeria?
Funke Akindele: We all want to.
Have you gotten any call?
Funke Akindele: I don’t know. Let’s wait.
You haven’t gotten any call?
Funke Akindele: Let’s wait.
Laughs. Okay it was nice speaking with you.
Funke Akindele: God bless you dear, thank you for coming.