#Throw Back Thursday: Five Fun Facts About Funke Akindele Bello

Funke Akindele Bello is having a wonderful year. The talented actress just won two AMVCA awards and her signature character ‘Jenifa’ is a still household name in Nigeria and many other countries around the world as a result of her wildly popular Tv Show ‘Jenifa Goes To School’.

And this week, Funke Akindele Bello had more reasons to celebrate because on Tuesday, her husband, JJC Skillz, celebrated his birthday. Funke took to Instagram to share a sweet message for her husband. The first line of the message was: “If I had to do it all over again, baby it would be with you.”

funke and husband
This line was also the first line of the surprise birthday song Funke recorded for her husband. The video to this song featured Funke and JJC Skillz children. Also in this video was another surprise: The new acts under Funke and JJC Skillz record label! Yes, the Power Couple now have a record label, SOP RECORDS, featuring four brand new acts – Gemstones, Mo Eazy, Martin Feelz and Sonorous.

With all this buzz around Funke Akindele Bello, we went into our archives to fish out April 2011 cover where she was our cover girl. As at then, Funke was gearing up for the release of ‘The Return of Jenifa’ – the sequel to the mega hit ‘Jenifa’.


Funke took us into her world and she shared some amazing and interesting details of her early life with us. We have put together these five fun facts and we really do hope you enjoy them.

  1. Funke almost lost the role of Bisi in the hit TV show I Need To Know. The director didn’t think Funke sounded convincing as a 16-year-old teenager – she was 22 at the time. It was her sister, the 13-year-old Mama, who coached Funke in the mysterious ways of the modern teen, arming her with up to date slangs and mannerisms. Funke eventually landed the part of Bisi, which became her break out role.
  1. Funke’s mother always encouraged Funke’s acting career and even financed her first movie, ‘Ojo Ketala’.  She also made sure that Funke obtained a University degree, a decision which has served the actress well in her career and business. But Funke’s mother brooked no nonsense from Funke and her siblings. There was a time when her mother came to her hostel and Funke had gone out clubbing. Her mother slept in her room, and when Funke came back the next day, her mother scraped her head bald! But Funke being notorious (back then) went out and bought a wig immediately her mother left.
  1. Funke Akindele wandered into Yoruba movie Industry by accident. After finding modest fame on ‘I Need To Know’, she expected her career to continue on an upward trajectory but it didn’t. Funke found herself playing small parts and most of all, she never seemed to fit into the typecasting standard and style of the Nigerian movie industry. A friend instigated her detour into the Yoruba Film Industry, and this move was what brought Funke Akindele her big break.
  1. The character, Jenifa, was inspired by a conversation with her sister Mama about the trend of runsin UNILAG. According to Funke, there were a lot of media campaign saying ‘Stop Aristo; Say No to Aristo’, but she wanted to pass on the message without being boring. She decided to create the character Jenifa, and the character in turn made Funke Akindele a house hold name.
  1. We may never have gotten to see Funke as Jenifa because originally, she didn’t want to play the lead role. Funke called for an audition, but she was frustrated because the only person she could find was Ronke Oshodi Okewho was older than what Funke was looking for. So Funke decided to play the role herself, and like they say, the rest is history.

So, now that we have taken you through the details of Funke Akindele Bello’s early life, now it’s your turn to go back in time.

What were your favourite moments from the movies Jenifa and The Return of Jenifa?

Do you find yourself saying ‘Yelz’ or ‘Az In’ even today?

Let us know!

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