Leading Man: How KOK’s Career Thrives In Nollywood After Two And A Half Decades


In its history of nearly 30 years, Nollywood has seen hundreds of actors try their luck on screen. However, only a handful of them have been successful enough to leave a long-lasting impression on the minds of the audience.

Kanayo.O. Kanayo (KOK) is one of these actors who is not only popular among an older audience but is also admired by the younger generation. Over the years, Kanayo has remained focused on bringing pure, undiluted African entertainment to his audience via his acting.


Born March 1,1962 in Mbaise, Imo State, Nigeria, Kanayo shot to prominence as an actor after he made his movie debut in the film Living in Bondage in 1992. At that time, many Nollywood movies had their themes wrapped around rituals and occults; therefore, it was common to see actors playing similar roles in almost 20 different movies.

Often stereotyped as an occultic man, Kanayo became quite popular for playing these roles in films such as Blood Billionaire, Hot Money, Desperate Billionaires, Nothing for Nothing, Across the bridge and so many others. Fed up with the stereotype, in 2005, Kanayo spoke out and was quoted thus:

“ I am tired of the ritual films and I want us to reposition ourselves. That is why we need more corporate bodies to come into movies. So that, we can have variet; while some are doing ritual others will be doing love movies.  In as much as it puts food on my table, we still need to reposition movie to the next level. It’s not all about ritual movies, but stories that impact on people’s lives, stories that impact on the society. Lets us be the agents of social change that’s all.”

As one of the pioneer members of the Nollywood industry, KOK continues to advocate for change in the movie industry and Nollywood is gradually taking baby steps to get better.


KOK has appeared in over 300 movies from 1992 till date and has now played various roles. In 2006, he won the African Movie Academy Award (AMAA) for ‘Best Actor in a Leading Role’ in the movie ‘Family Battle’ which was produced by Izuchukwu Okeke and directed by Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen the movie also features – Eucharia Anunobi Ekwu, Emeka Enyiocha, Ebere Okaro.

Kanayo is a celebrated actor both at home and abroad and over the years he has garnered over well over 30 awards.


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