Kanayo O. Kanayo: Biography, movies, net worth, family

Kanayo O. Kanayo: Biography, movies, net worth, family

Kanayo O. Kanayo is a Nigerian actor and lawyer. His real name is Anayo Modestus Onyekwere MFR. For his portrayal in the film Family Battle, he earned the African Movie Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in 2006.

The actor is well known for his portrayal as a ritualist in films such as Blood Money, Rituals, and Billionaire’s Club.


Kanayo O. Kanayo was born on March 1, 1962, to Donatus and Isabella Onyekwere, his parents. He hails from the village of Nru Umueze Oboama Ezinihitte in Imo State’s Mbaise Local Government Area. 

Kanayo grew up in the family of his older brother, John Onyekwere. Because John’s parents were deeply devout, they raised their son and nephew as Christian men. Their upbringing was under strict discipline, but also they were trained to be modest, honest, and respectful. 

He attended St. Joseph Primary School in Aba, Abia State, where he was raised. He attended Aba Secondary Technical School for his secondary studies. He graduated from the University of Lagos with a diploma in mass communication, law, and a master’s degree in philosophy. He has a master’s degree in political science as well. He also graduated from the University of Abuja with a law degree in 2018 and was admitted to the Nigerian Bar in 2020.

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Kanayo used to buy and sew shirts and suit materials, which he sold to the bank and office workers before becoming an actor.

Kanayo O. Kanayo noted that he decided to enter this sector because he was concerned that modern television in the 1980s was lacking, with few TV shows even though all characters were highly regarded. Kanayo intended to shower them with smiles and happiness because they were all regarded as “role models.”

He began his acting career in 1982, appearing in Nigerian Television Authority films. In the year 1992, he appeared as a guest star in the popular Nigerian TV show New Masquerade after graduating from the University of Lagos.

Ovuleria, Prince Jegede Shokoya, Chief Zebrudaya, and Giringory were among the cast members. He began attending many film auditions after his appearance in this TV series. He made his film debut in the picture Living in Bondage. 

The veteran actor has appeared in over 100 films and was nominated for an African Movie Academy Award for Best Actor in the film Across the Niger in 2008. Up North and Living in Bondage: Breaking Free are two of his most recent films.

 The actor is also very much interested in politics. He ran for a seat in the Imo State House of Representatives in 2011 but lost. He also aspired to be a representative of Ahiazu/Ezinihitte Mbaise in the Federal House of Representatives in 2018 but was defeated. He ran under the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) political party.

He has been in several Nollywood productions, including Lion Heart and the comic Professor Johnbull, but is best recognised for playing the villain in these films, particularly those involving occult rituals.

He holds the status of Member of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (MFR) and is currently a United Nations ambassador. 

Kanayo O. Kanayo was one of many Nigerians honoured by the government in 2014 as part of the country’s centennial celebrations.

Outside of his acting career, Kanayo established the Kanayo O. Kanayo Mentoring Academy, which is still in operation today (KOKMA). It is necessary, in his opinion, to provide feedback to society. As a result of this need, the KOKMA project was born, which is currently a youth guidance program. This initiative, Kanayo explained, allows him to mentor youngsters out of control.

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Kanayo O. Kanayo has acted in several hit movies. He is one of the best Nollywood actors of his time. Below is a list of his movies.

  • Living in Bondage (1992)
  • Circle of Doom (1993)
  • Nneka the Pretty Serpent (1994)
  • Blood Money: The Vulture Men (1997)
  • Festival of Fire (1999)
  • Battle of Love (1999)
  • 419 Connection: Deadly Rose (2000)
  • Billionaire’s Club (2003)
  • Across the Niger (2004)
  • Apaye (2014)
  • October 1(2014)
  • Up North (2018)
  • Lion Heart (2018)
  • Living in Bondage: Breaking Free (2019)

TV shows

  • Village Headmaster 
  • Checkmate 
  • Ripples
  • New Masquerade 
  • Professor Johnbull

Kanayo O. Kanayo family

Kanayo O. Kanayo is married to Nneka Onyekwere, a gorgeous woman. The marriage has four children: Uloaku Valerie, the older daughter; Einstein, Clinton “Onye Eze Mbaise,” and Kosisochukwu Montell; the three sons. Kanayo O. Kanayo values time spent with his family despite his hectic schedule at work and on many projects.

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Net worth

Kanayo’s net worth is estimated at N1.87 billion ($4.5m). Aside from being an actor, he is also a businessman who has landed many endorsement deals over his career.


Kanayo O. Kanayo has received many awards for his outstanding achievements in the Nigerian film industry. Below are a few of his awards.

  • African Movie Academy Awards, Best Actor in a Leading Role, 2006.
  • African Movie Academy Awards, Special Recognition Awards, 2012.
  • Golden Icon Academy Movie Awards, Best Actor, 2014.

In addition to his many awards are the Afro Hollywood Award in London in 2000, African Actor of the Year in 2006, Ambassador Award in New York in 2009, and the Nollywood Award of Excellence.


Kanayo O. Kanayo is well-known for his innovative roles and outstanding performances in films. He has undoubtedly paid his dues in the Nigerian entertainment industry as one of the industry’s greats.

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Esther is versatile writer who thrives in writing top-notch long-form articles. She enjoys research and has an eye for details. She's currently a writer at BlackDot Media.
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