If you are a lover of television series, there is one fast-rising actress to look out for. Starring in over 20 TV series in less than eight years of career in Nollywood (the Nigerian movie industry), Mena Sodje is the actress to beat.
The Delta State University, Abraka trained Accounting and Finance graduate, is on track to becoming one of the mega actresses out of Nollywood.
The prospective TV queen started out as a child actor without experience, just to delight herself and unknowingly develop a passion that will stand her out in the future.
Moreover, her childhood passion grew further, allowing her to hold the torch for acting for many years, even while as an undergraduate, and today as a professional actor.
Her passion for acting was boosted in 2014 when she graduated from the university and decided to get proper training in acting. She enrolled in the Royal Arts Academy Nigeria, after which started acting professionally in 2015.
Her days at little beginning saw her play a minor role as ‘Oby’ in Jenifa’s Diary season 1 (Episode 13), as ‘Hope James in Spotlight and ‘As Nurse Ada’ in season 2 of Losing Control; two projects of Royal Arts Academy.
With eyes on stardom, and determination to better her craft, Mena attended training at the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) 2016, where she qualified for a scholarship to study Acting for Film at the La Cinéfabrique University Lyon, France. Between 2016 and 2020, she appeared in many TV series including; Loop Count (screened at the British Film Institute London), To Love Again, Within Reach, Food, Love, or Both, and To Alice.
However, in 2017, Mena was opened to a new audience and experience with her appearance as Pippa in Tinsel; a big feat that also started her TV series career. Though her big break came in 2020, she continued honing her craft on projects such as Diary of The Damned, Within Reach, The Man Who Cuts Tattoos, and Akachi.
In 2020, she took on the role of ‘Queen Misan’ on the James Omokwe-produced 260-episode TV series Riona. In the series, she took on one of the lead roles, winning viewers’ hearts nationwide with her natural acting as the kind queen of the wicked ‘King Ofotokun’. As Misan, she went from being a soldier’s wife, pregnant woman, grieving mom, and widow, to a newly married queen in a tumultuous polygamous family, the Ejoji (King’s sweetheart), head queen, and mother of the show’s protagonist (Tsema). She played every role to a tee, showing incredible range.
That role led her to more movies and TV series, including; Now That We Are Married, Africa Magic’s original film and Jay Jay: The Chosen One, Showmax’s first original animated series. But since her 2020 break, she has appeared in many movies including; Juju Stories, A Chain Reaction, and The Hookup. Also, she has appeared in several made-for-TV films on Africa Magic channels and Rok TV, all on DStv.
Of course, she is just starting. This year alone, especially in the last quarter, Mena has featured in many movies enough to be described as the TV queen. The fast-rising star is currently a cast member on three TV shows simultaneously airing on Africa Magic Showcase (DStv channel 151). She is ‘Halima Cole’ on Ripples: The New Generation, Ojoma (Akudiya) on Masquerades of Aniedo and ‘Abies’ on Love and Light. These roles help her display incredible range as she takes on different character profiles in each of them and delivers a natural performance across the board.
As Halima Cole, she is the somewhat spoiled daughter of Daphne Wellington-Cole and granddaughter of Leslie Dehinde-Philips, a late oil magnate. She hates her mother and step-sister but loves the maid and her younger brother she grew up with. Her angst is understandable as she grew up without her father and thought her mother hated her. Despite being a little spoiled, she is a go-getter, and it comes across in everything she does. Ripples: The New Generation airs every Wednesday at 9 pm on Africa Magic Showcase (DStv channel 151 or GOtv channel 12).
As Ojoma (aka Akudiya), she plays the role of a beautiful village wife and mother embroiled in a secret affair with her husband’s nephew. On one hand, she loves her husband and wants only him, but he doesn’t satisfy her in every way. On the other, she wants to keep her nephew quiet by giving him more sex, as she has since he was a young man. Catch Masquerades of Aniedo on weekdays at 8 pm on Africa Magic Showcase.
She plays a minor role in Love and Light as Abies, the mother to a young adult deliberating failing his JAMB exams, and the Love and Light hotel manager. Her role is the ‘concerned mother’ and ‘dedicated staff’. Despite how simple it sounds, Mena adds layers. She balances being smiley with her guests and keeping her son in line. It comes across as naturally as possible. Love and Light airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8:30 pm on Africa Magic Showcase.
It is also of note that Mena is one of many fast-rising stars that Africa Magic is helping to become more prominent. In a recent interview with her colleague, Tope Olowoniyan, she shed light on this better than anyone can. “I am honoured that my growth in Nollywood fundamentally was because of African magic. I cannot talk about my career without mentioning them. As Africa Magic celebrates 20 years, you can imagine how many of me have come out of their studios and are still growing. The beautiful thing is that when you start your journey with a platform, and as you grow progressively, the platform recognises your growth, it stays with you,” she said.
Mena and Tope share a similar history with Africa Magic. They started on Tinsel and appeared on similar shows. They were co-wives in Riona, friends on Now That We Are Married, and warring sisters on Ripples: The New Generation. As Mena Sodje continues to take over Nollywood one TV series at a time, it raises the question of how many more actors are building their careers quickly.
While credit goes to the Africa Magic platform, Mena is on track to becoming one of the mega actresses out of Nollywood. Soon, more streamers will chase after her, and she will be everywhere.
However, fans will never forget that they first fell in love with her on TV even as they root for her to do much more and break new records.
Watch out for the TV queen in the making!