The evolution of Nollywood, in pictures

By Nosmot Gbadamosi, CNN

Updated 7:48 AM ET, Thu August 6, 2020
Nollywood Portraits Eku EdeworNollywood Portraits Eku Edewor
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Nigerian born, New York based Iké Udé has been described as a master of portraiture, having created portraits of the world's most internationally recognized celebrities including actress and filmmaker Isabella Rossellini, shoe designer Manolo Blahnik and singer Rihanna.

His documentary "Nollywood in Focus" and an accompanying Coffee table book, sees him lend his visual eye to Nigeria's movie industry -- Nollywood.
Pictured, Eku Edewor.
Courtesy Iké Udé
Udé interviewed 64 of Nollywood's biggest stars including actress Genevieve Nnaji, actress turned director Stephanie Okereke Linus and filmmaker Kunle Afolayan.
"Nollywood is the new face of Africa," said Udé, "it is modern, postmodern, bold, sexy, wicked and shrewd, with a contagious attitude worth catching." Its appeal has spread far beyond Nigeria with movies sold and produced almost globally.
Pictured: Sadiq Daba
Courtesy Iké Udé
The industry has come leaps and bounds from the low tech productions it was once associated with, to producing big budget high quality features tackling a plethora of subjects from sexuality to government politics and identity.
It's thought to contribute around $600 million annually to the Nigerian economy.
Pictured: Beverly Naya
Courtesy Iké Udé
This grand portrait of all 64 celebrities titled "The School of Nollywood" is inspired by Raphael's 1509 painting 'The School of Athens', which adorns the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.

"It was a daunting undertaking," Udé told CNN, "but worth every effort and breath that I spent on it."
Courtesy Iké Udé
Stephanie Okereke Linus "has an imposing physicality," explained Udé, "yet sweet and a positively sunny personality." He added; "since she has this incredibly powerful persona, I wanted to explore the possibility of a dramatic tension" hence the "unexpected stretch of a leg." Courtesy Iké Udé
Born in Nigeria in 1964, the photographer's previous works have been exhibited in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, as well as the Smithsonian Museum of Art.
Pictured: Joke Silva
Courtesy Iké Udé
Pictured, Enyinna Nwigwe. "I recall that after our photo session, he sat for a long while, engaged with Nollywood elders who were almost double his age trading ideas and civilized arguments with them and confessing how much he enjoyed doing so, how important it was to listen to experienced folks and learn wisely from them," Udé recapped on Nwigwe's photo shoot. Courtesy Iké Udé
In composing Genevieve Nnaji's portrait, "I was drawing from the grand, iconic African antique cultures of the Nile Valley civilization" says the photographer. "There is a Janus-like moment whereby she motions forward while looking back, as it were, engaging both the past and the future." Courtesy Iké Udé
"Nollywood talents have this artistic, creative and imaginative autonomy and independence very rare, even impossible for Africans in the diaspora to own," said Udé.
Pictured, Alexx Ekubo.
Courtesy Iké Udé
Born in the ancient city of Benin, Omoni Oboli trained as a digital filmmaker at New York's Film Academy. 'The Rivals,' a film she co-produced won Best International Drama at the New York International Independent Film & Video Festival in 2007. Courtesy Iké Udé
Born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Chioma Ude is the founder of the Africa International Film Festival. Courtesy Iké Udé
Born in the Bronx, New York, Osas Ighodaro Ajibade moved to Nigeria in 2012 and has starred in over 20 movies since relocating. Courtesy Iké Udé
Gabon-born actor Jim Iyke Esomugha has starred in over 100 movies. Courtesy Iké Udé
Lagos-born Kiki Omeili has been in 32 Nollywood movie productions. Courtesy Iké Udé
Born in Lagos, Kunle Afolayan has produced and directed five Nollywood movies to date. Courtesy Iké Udé
Lagos-born actress Kehinde Bankole. Courtesy Iké Udé
Born in Lagos, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett is a fellow of the Society of Nigerian Theatre Artists. Courtesy Iké Udé
Actor Uti Nwachukwu. Courtesy Iké Udé
Port-Harcourt born Monalisa Chinda has starred in over 150 movies since her first major film in 1996. Courtesy Iké Udé
Actor Linda Ihuoma Ejiofor. Courtesy Iké Udé
Lagos -born actor Desmond Elliot has been in more than 200 movies. Courtesy Iké Udé