Akindele Olufunke Ayotunde – born 24 August 1977 – popularly known, as Funke Akindele or Jenifa is a Nigerian film actress and producer. Akindele starred in the sitcom I Need to Know from 1998 to 2002, and in 2009, she won the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. She rose to fame for her role in the movie titled Jenifa which earned her the nickname Jenifa. The Omo Ghetto trilogy contributed to her fame. Funke Akindele played the lead role in the show Jenifa’s Diary, for which she was named the Best Actress in a Comedy at the 2016 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards.
Early life and education
Akindele was born on August 24, 1977, 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 attended Grace Children School Gbagada, Lagos State. She obtained an Ordinary National Diploma (OND) in Mass Communication from the former Ogun State Polytechnic, now known as Moshood Abiola Polytechnic. She earned a Law degree from the University of Lagos.
Akindele came into the limelight after starring in the popular United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)-sponsored sitcom I Need to Know, which ran from 1998 to 2002. Funke Akindele played Bisi, a curious but highly intelligent secondary school student. Funke Akindele’s big break came in 2008 when she appeared in the movie Jenifa.
In January 2018, there was a controversy when it was reported that Funke Akindele would get her Hollywood debut in Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War as she was listed as a member of the cast on IMDb. Mainstream Nigerian press reported that Jenifa was set to star in Infinity War as the guard Dora Milaje, citing IMDb. Some weeks later her name was replaced with that of fellow Nigerian actress Genevieve Nnaji, with Funke Akindele’s upload shown to have been a hack. In February 2018, it was reported that Senate President and chair of the National Assembly, Dr. Bukola Saraki has advised Marvel Studios to feature Akindele in Infinity War.
In a July 2016 interview, Funke Akindele stated she was acting less in the Yoruba film industry at that time because of piracy. Akindele plays the lead character in the ongoing hit TV show Jenifa’s Diary, alongside Fisayo Ajisola, Falz, Juliana Olayode, and Aderounmu Adejumoke. The show is a spin-off from the movie Jenifa. The 2018 comedy film Moms at War stars Funke Akindele and Omoni Oboli. In July 2019, Akindele started a new web series, Aiyetoro Town, a spinoff from her popular TV series, Jenifa’s Diary. She is the CEO of Scene One Film Production.
She made her directorial debut in the 2019 political drama film, Your Excellency.
Akindele runs a nongovernmental organization known as the Jenifa Foundation, which aims at providing young people with vocational skills.
Akindele has endorsement deals such as her being signed as an Ambassador to Dettol and Irokotv. In 2018, she was signed as brand ambassador for Keystone Bank. In November 2019, she signed an endorsement deal with WAW Nigeria, a company that manufactures detergent and bar soap.
On May 26, 2012, Funke Akindele married Adeola Kehinde Oloyede. The couple divorced in July 2013, citing irreconcilable differences. Funke Akindele married Nigerian rapper JJC Skillz in London in May 2016. Her pregnancy rumours were among the top searched results on Google search engine in August 2017. Funke Akindele gave birth to twin boys in December 2018 and has several step-children.
On June 30, 2022, Abdulrasheed Bello, better known as JJC Skillz, announced that his marriage with Nollywood actress Funke Akindele has ended.
Six years after their marriage and several rumours of separation, Mr Bello finally confirmed their divorce in an early Thursday morning Instagram post.
In April 2020, Akindele was arrested and charged in court for hosting a birthday party in honour of her husband during the period of an imposed lockdown (to tackle coronavirus). She later appeared in a Nigeria Centre for Disease Control video to raise awareness about coronavirus. The actress and her husband were sentenced to a 14-day community service after pleading guilty to violating the lockdown order.
On 12 July, 2022, Funke Akindele, was named the Peoples Democratic Party deputy governorship candidate of Lagos State.
The actress confirmed her deputy governorship candidacy in a video on her verified Instagram page on Tuesday.
With this position, she had become the running mate of the PDP Lagos State governorship candidate, Olajide Adediran, popularly called Jandor.
Her movie Omo Ghetto currently holds the record of becoming the highest-grossing movie of all time in Nigeria, breaking the four-year record of Kemi Adetiba’s movie titled ‘The Wedding Party’.
According to a statement, broadcast by the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN), in January 2021, the movie grossed N468,036,300 after maintaining its number one spot for 3 consecutive weeks.
2009: Africa Movie Academy Award – Best Actress Leading Role
2009: Nigeria Entertainment Awards – Best Actress for Jenifa
2012: Nigeria Entertainment Awards – Best Actress for Troj
2012: Nollywood Movies Awards – Best Actress (Indigenous) for Emi Abata
2012: Zulu African Film Academy Awards – Best Actress for Maami and The Return of Jenifa
2013: Nollywood Movies Awards – Best Actress (Indigenous) for Maami
2014: Nigeria Entertainment Awards – Best Actress (Leading Role) for Agnetta O’Mpa
2014: Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards – Best Actress (Comedy) for The Return of Sheri Koko
2014: ELOY Awards – Brand Ambassador of the Year for Omo
2016: Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards – Best Actress In Comedy Role
2016: Naija FM Awards – Sitcom Of The Year for Jenifa’s Diary
2016: Naija FM Awards – Best Actress in Comedy for Jenifa’s Diary
2016: Africa Entertainment Legend Awards – Best Actress of the Year
2016: Ghana Movies Awards – Best Actress Africa Collaboration for A Trip to Jamaica
2017: Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards – Best TV Series for Jenifa’s Diary
2017: Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards – Best Actress in a Comedy Movie or TV Series for Jenifa’s Diary
2017: Nigeria Entertainment Awards – Best Lead Actress for A Trip to Jamaica
2020: Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards – Best Actress in a comedy for Moms At War
2021: Net Honours – Most Popular Actress
2022: Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards – Best Actress in A Comedy for Omo Ghetto: The Saga
2022: Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards – Best Costume Designer for Omo Ghetto: The Saga