The road to stardom is rarely easy. Many high-flying personalities today have incredible stories about where they came from. The incredible lives of Nigerian celebrities before they became famous can inspire fans to fulfill their dreams.

Nigerian celebrities before fame
Photo: @realomosexy, @psquareworld on Instagram (modified by author)
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While some celebrities came from middle-class homes, some came from abject poverty. The important thing is that they never gave up and they are now known far beyond national borders.

Nigerian celebrities before fame

Many Nigerian celebrities used to live simple lives before stepping into the limelight. Here are some stars and who they were before fame.

Omotola Jalade Ekeinde

Nigerian celebrities before fame
Photo: @realomosexy on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Omotola is one of the most famous Nollywood actresses in the world. In 2003, she was named one of the most influential people in the world by Times Magazine.

But Omotola’s life has not always been rosy. The death of his father plunged his family into misery and poverty. At one point, his mother went to beg food from an unnamed prominent Nigerian personality.

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Ramsey Nouah

Nigerian celebrities before fame
Photo: @ramseynouah on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Ramsey is a household name in Nollywood. It has been featured in hundreds of Nollywood movies. Nouah describes her life before fame as both bitter and sweet. Initially, he and his mother lived a great life until things turned around.

At one point they had no house and had to seek shelter in a small store that could only fit one mat, and several times they had to beg for food. Once, he even remembers sleeping under the bridge in Lagos.

Mercy Johnson Okojie

Mercy Johnson is one of the most sought after Nigerian actresses. In 2011, she was the most searched Nigerian celebrity on Google and retained the title the following year. She has been the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Kogi State for Entertainment, Arts and Culture since April 2017.

But before all those doors opened, Mercy’s life was tough. She once revealed that she and her family live in an incomplete building and often seek shelter whenever it rains as the building has no roof. She also had to work as a housekeeper to support her family while her brother worked multiple multiple jobs. When she started gambling, she used the profits to improve their living conditions.

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Paul and Peter Okoye have been dominating the airwaves for several years as solo and group artists. However, they too recounted having lived in difficult conditions. At the time, their mother sold porridge, while their father owned a small bakery. After school they all went to the bakery to help out. The family of eight children and two parents lived in a one-room house.

To survive, Paul made electrical repairs while Peter worked as a supermarket attendant. After graduation, the two approached their parents and expressed their wish to stop pursuing their studies and move to Lagos, and assured them that music would change their lives. They started selling small things and some of their father’s things to raise money to travel to Lagos. They even confessed to stealing around 100,000 naira and finally made it to Lagos in 2004.


Nigerian celebrities before fame
Photo: @timayatimaya on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Timaya is one of the saddest stories of Nigerian celebrities before fame. He says he was abused by a woman he lived with after his landlord kicked him out. He started singing and writing music while still jostling between studios. The woman he lived with made several rules and regulations for him and slept with him whenever she wanted, whether he consented or not.

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When he finally told her that he would no longer participate, she threatened him and accused him of giving his services elsewhere. Timaya also talked about selling plantain on the streets before becoming a star.

Banky W.

Nigerian celebrities before fame
Photo: @bankywellington on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Olubankole Wellington better known by his stage name Banky W is a Nigerian singer, rapper, producer, entrepreneur and more recently a politician. He started dreaming of becoming a musician at an early age and worked three jobs to raise money to fulfill his dream while continuing his education in college.

He worked in a clothing store, a fast food restaurant, and as a door-to-door knife salesman to raise money for studio recording time. At the time, he was recording with a friend of his. They would then print several CDs despite not having fans. He then printed black and white posters that he stuck on the sides of a car he owned.

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They sold the CDs to salons, where they often got fired. Sometimes they would sing and impress the customers who bought the CDs. Fortunately, this company ended up paying.

Joseph Benjamin

Nigerian celebrities before fame
Photo: @iamjosephbenjamin on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Although he became a successful actor, it was his role as a television personality that thrust him into the limelight. He was a co-presenter on MTN West Africa Fame Project.

In an earlier interview, Benjamin said he went from working as a security guard, bus driver and waiter to selling shoes to putting food on his table. He often advises amateurs to nurture their art and always have a good knowledge of the market for those getting into business.

Don Jazzy

While Don Jazzy may have first ventured into music, his skills as a record producer and founder/CEO of Mavin Records eventually earned him the celebrity status and success he enjoys today. . Before founding his record label in 2012, Don Jazzy was the CEO of Mo’ Hits Records, a Nigerian record company founded in 2004.

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His fame has gone beyond African borders. Jazzy collaborated with Kanye West and Jay Z on the album Look at the throne released in 2011 and starring Beyonce. Moreover, Forbes named him the 36th most powerful celebrity in Africa.

When Jazzy finished school, he was called to London by an uncle, where he worked as a security guard at McDonalds. He also played drums for a local church that his uncle invited him to. All the while, he pursued his interest in music, which clearly paid off.


Nigerian celebrities before fame
Photo: @patorankingfire on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Patoranking quickly rose to fame in the Nigerian music industry with their reggae/dancehall style. He has since served as a brand ambassador for various organizations across the country, won several music awards, and recently served as a judge at The Voice Nigeriaa musical reality show.

However, he had to work hard to get where he is today. He previously worked as a bricklayer and said he carried ‘kponkpon’ – the pan used to transport sand to a construction site. Apart from that, he was also quoted saying that he was selling rat poison on the streets to make money.

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John Okafor

Known to many as Mr. Ibu, John Okafor rose to fame for his roles in comedy films. His family was among the poorest in Enugu State. After her father died, a breeze knocked down their house.

They then started renting a house in their village, which was almost unheard of. They were only given one room in their maternal home, where the whole family was to live. To supplement the family income, Mr. Ibu sold firewood and worked as a barber and butcher.

These stories of the amazing lives of Nigerian celebrities before they rose to fame prove that perseverance and hard work are the surest way to success. What the celebrities on this list have in common is that even though they’ve done weird things to survive, they haven’t given up on their dreams.

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All About Sharina Hudson, The Woman Who Took Wendy Williams’s Marriage Apart recently published an article about little celebrities. Popular culture has emphasized the importance of being tall, naming many plus-size celebrities among the most attractive in the world.

However, this physicality hasn’t stopped these little celebrities from achieving greatness. They prove that what matters in life is not your looks but your talents and how hard you are willing to work.


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