Some Nigerian celebrities gained recognition using their parents’ financial strength, while many others, who were not so lucky to be born in rich families, attended auditions and finally battled it out with fellow contestants at reality shows before realising their dreams.
Check out the list of TOP-5 celebrities, who made their way to superstar status through reality shows.
The winner of the 2008 MTN Project Fame reality show is currently one of the hottest and most sought after musician in Nigeria. Iyanya bounced to stardom after the failure of his debut album with the release of monster hit ‘Kukere’. He would later release hit singles like, ‘Your waist’ and ‘Flavour’ before dropping a second album, Iyanya vs Desire, which became a success.
Iyanya who is the co-founder of his record label, Made Men Music, alongside his manager and business partner, Ubi Franklin, recently signed Abuja-based budding singer, Teckno.
This graduate of Law from Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, did not win the first edition of West African Idol as she came second, but the mother of one returned to the studio after the show and released her first single ‘In The Music’, which became an instant anthem among Nigerians.
Omawumi became popular and was embraced as a brand ambassador by Globacom, Konga and Mortein. She also won the “Next Rated Act” award of the Headies and released her debut album ‘Wonder Woman’ in 2010. She returned to the scene in 2012 with a hit ‘Bottom Belle’ featuring afro-highlife act, Flavour, before treating her fans to her second studio album ‘The Lasso Of Truth’ in 2013.
3. O.C. Ukeje
O.C. Ukeje was born on July 15, 1981. He is arguably the biggest Nigerian actor to have emerged from a reality TV show. O.C. Ukeje began his career in acting from his first year at the University of Lagos, where he played a lead role in a stage play. He was a stage actor for four years before attempting and winning the reality TV show for actors, Amstel Malta Box Office (AMBO).
He began a full career with a merger of stage and screen performances. His first screen appearance was in White Waters in 2008 alongside star actresses Joke Silva and Rita Dominic.
O.C Ukeje has since become a seasoned actor with appearances in movies like Comrade, Confusion Na Wa, Half of a Yellow Sun, HoodRush, Black November amongst others.
He was also on the repertory team that showcased three stage plays for the Nigeria House at the London Cultural Olympiad (2012).
4. Dare Art-Alade ‘Darey’
Darey is probably the first Nigerian celebrity to rise to fame on the back of a reality TV show after he participated at the 2004 edition of Project Fame Academy, a renowned reality TV show and emerged third in the contest. The award-winning musician and song writer is the son of iconic Nigerian entertainer, Art Alade.
Darey isn’t just a musician; he has over the past decade been a disc jockey, TV presenter, entertainment consultant, voice-over artiste and performing/recording artist and event host.
Darey’s real music journey started in 2006/2007 as his debut album ‘From Me 2 U’ which was laced with several hit singles, including ‘Fuji’ and ‘Escalade’ hit the Nigerian market under Storm Records. He returned to the studio, producing a highly anticipated follow-up album entitled ‘unDAREYted’. The album sold over 150,000 copies across Nigeria in its first two months of release.
The Soul Musik label executive would later cook a third album ‘Double Dare’ in 2010. He currently has female singer Zaina and R&B artiste MoEazy signed to his label while also organizing his own special valentine event, ‘Love Like A Movie’ in 2013 that featured American reality TV star, Kim Kardashian.
5. Uti Nwachukwu
Uni was born on August 3, 1982. He is one celebrity who has participated in multiple reality TV shows.
He first participated at the celebrated Next Movie Star before contesting at the highly watched Big Brother Africa reality TV show in 2008. He was evicted from the house on the 5th October 2008, spending only 42 days. He returned to the house in 2010 as a contestant in Big Brother Africa 5: All-Stars in which he lasted 91 days and ultimately won by defeating Munya with a final vote of 8 to 7.
Uti has since become a celebrity as he co-hosts the popular African Magic program, Jara while becoming a major event host across all sectors in Nigeria.
What do you think about the list? Who else can be added?