Olu Jacobs: Biography, career, filmography, net worth

Olu Jacobs: Biography, career, filmography, net worth

For core lovers of Nollywood, Olu Jacobs is an institution. Even Gen Z folks who may not know him or have watched him in action are regaled with stories of how he is an iconic figure in the Nigerian film industry.

Jacobs is from the “old school” of Nollywood, and he brought smiles, laughter, and happiness to the faces of Nigerian movie watchers with his acting skills and interpretation of roles, which he did with panache, poise, and compactness. So, who is Olu Jacobs, a living legend who has received critical acclaim both in and outside Nigeria for his works?


Olu Jacobs was born Oludotun Baiyewu Jacobs on 11 July 1942 in Abeokuta, in what is now known as the capital of Ogun State in the South-West region of Nigeria. He was born to parents who hailed from the Egba Alake section of Egbaland in Abeokuta. He is the fifth child in a family of eight.

Jacobs spent his early childhood in Kano State, where he attended Holy Trinty School for his primary school. While at Holy Trinty, he was a member of the school’s debating and drama societies. He moved to Lagos State, where he completed his secondary school and obtained his West African Senior School Certificate.

He travelled to the United Kingdom in 1964 to study Law, or so his father thought. The young Jacobs enrolled at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. He earned the required qualifications, thereby becoming a professional actor.

The actor recently celebrated his 80th birthday in July 2022.


Jacobs developed a passion for acting after he attended one of the annual concert parties of the late Herbert Ogunde, the legendary actor, playwright, and theatre manager, at Colonial Hotel in Kano. He was only about seven years old when he witnessed the performance of Ogunde and his troupe.

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After training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, Jacobs got his first break in 1971 after he got an agent vouched for him when he was offered a role in a BBC production. He starred in Murderous Angels, a political tragicomedy stage play written by Conor Cruise O’Brien and performed at the Dublin Theatre Festival. In the same year, he made his debut in the TV drama: The Goodies. He subsequently starred in over a score of British television shows and TV series in the 1970s and 1980s. He worked with various theatres in the UK and became a member of the National Theatre of Great Britain.

Jacob landed his first movie role in the 1979 Hollywood movie Ashanti. Ashanti is an action-adventure film based on the 1974 novel Ébano by Alberto Vázquez-Figueroa and directed by Richard Fleischer. It was, however, his next Hollywood movie, The Dogs of War, which earned him critical acclaim. In the 1980 war film, which was based upon the 1974 novel of the same name written by Frederick Forsyth, Jacobs played the role of a corrupt immigration officer.

Although he might have been a supporting cast in the movie, Jacobs’ appearance was a big deal, particularly when there were not enough opportunities for African American and African actors to exhibit their talent in Hollywood. He appeared in several international films in the 1980s.

After over 20 years of successful studying, working, and residing in the UK and being well received in the British media, Jacobs returned to Nigeria in the 1980s. He delved straight into stageplays, where he showcased his dexterity as an actor. However, his emolument was not appreciable enough, and he voiced his concerns. Yet, he stayed back and played an active role in the burgeoning Nigerian film industry.

His big break in Nigeria occurred in 1988 when he starred in Vigilante, a movie produced by AA production. Jacobs’ reputation and popularity skyrocketed as movie producers and directors subsequently courted him.

He became even more famous after playing Inspector Best Idafa, the lead role in the now-rested Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) series, The Third Eye. Jacobs captivated the nation for three years with his depiction of a police officer, who was a detective trying to resolve crimes and societal issues.


Olu Jacobs as Inspector Best Idafa in The Third Eye

Jacobs has featured in over 130 movies, about 100 stage productions, and 30 television programmes in Nigeria and the UK. Some of the films and TV series have become instant hits and classics, with a few hitting box office records.

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Below is a select list of Jacobs’ filmography.

Stage plays

Name of stage plays Year
Murderous Angels: A Political Tragedy and Comedy in Black and White 1971
Richard’s Cork Leg 1972
Black Mans Country 1974
Bar Beach Prelude and Transistor Radio 1976


A Kind of Marriage
Old Movies 1977


Julius Caesar
Night and Day 1978

TV series

TV series Year
The Goodies 1971
Spyder’s Web 1972
Till Death Do Us Part 1974
Barlow At Large 1975
The Venturers 1975
Angels 1976
Centre Play 1976
The Crezz 1976
The Tomorrow People 1975
Jackanory 1978
1990 1978
The Professionals 1979
Not the Nine O’Clock News 1979
Squadron 1982
The Witches and the Grinnygog 1983
Rumpole of the Bailey 1983
The Mad Death 1983
Play for Today 1984
The Third Eye 1990

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Movies Year
Ashanti 1979
The Dogs of War 1980
Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend 1985
Pirates 1986
Vigilante 1988
Iva 1993
Another Love 1996
Obstacles 1998
Twins of the Rain Forest 1999
Aba Riot 1 & 2
The Last Vote 2001
Keeping Faith: Is That Love? 2002
Private Sin 1& 2 2003


The Kingmaker
Ago Kan Oru
Mission To Africa
Real Love
Unconditional Love
Eyes of the Gods 2004


Turn Table
Arsenal 1 & 2
Dear Sister
House Party 1 & 2
Soul On Fire 1 & 2 2005
To Love A Stranger 1 & 2
Ultimate Crisis
Women In Power 1 & 2
A Time to Die 1 & 2
Omaliko 1 & 2
One God One Nation 1 & 2
Opin Irin Ajo 1 & 2
21 Days With Christ
Before the Sunrise 1 & 2
Eagle’s Bride
Lonely Heart 1 & 2
Only Love 1 & 2
Real Love 2 & 3
Royal Palace
The God To Serve 1 & 2
The Prince and Me 2006
One Bullet 1 & 2
Royal Doom 1 & 2
Dancing Heart 1 & 2
End of Battle 1 & 2
Jealous Heart 1 & 2
Mirror of Beauty 2007


African Soldier 1 & 2
Burning Kingdom 1, 2 & 3
Eewo Orisa 1 & 2
Kingdom Apart 1 & 2
Lost In The Jungle 1 & 2
Mountains of Evil 1 & 2
Odudu Kingdom 1, 2 & 3
Royal Destiny 1 & 2
Show Me Heaven 1, 2 & 3
Slave To Lust 1 & 2
The Prince and Me
Warrior’s Heart 1, 2 & 3
Final Kingdom 1 & 2
Greatness 1 & 2
Old Testament 1 & 2
Secret Pledge 1 & 2
The Cabals 1 & 2
A Can of Worms 1 & 2 2008


Beauty and the Beast 1, 2 & 3
Smoke & Mirrors
The Return of Ogidi 1 & 2
Throne of Tears
Hidden Treasure 1 & 2
Perfect Temptation 1 & 2
Piece of My Soul 1, 2 & 3
Sister’s Love
Smoke and Mirrors
Throne Of Tears
Total Love
Last Mogul of the League 1 & 2 2009
League of Gentlemen 1 & 2
Forest of Tears 1, 2, 3 & 4
A Weeping Soul 1 & 2
Royal Tears 1 & 2
Sound of Pain 1 &2
Tears of Hope 1& 2
Bent Arrow 2010
Bitter Generation 1, 2, 3 & 4
Power Of A Kiss 1 & 2
Palace Slave 1, 2, 3 & 4
Bent Arrows
Sacred Lies 2011
Days of Gloom 1 & 2
Sacred Lies 1, 2, 3 & 4
The Seekers 1 & 2
White Chapel
Adesuwa 2012
A Better Tomorrow
Potomanto 2013
Covert Operation
Royal King 1 & 2
The Antique 2014


Bloody Ring
Oloibiri 2015
The Royal Hibiscus Hotel 2017

Awards and recognition

Olu Jacobs at the AMVCA

Due to his sterling performance, Jacobs won the African Movie Academy Award (AMAA) for Best Actor in a Leading Role in the 2007 movie, Dancing Heart.

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He also won another AMAA award in 2017, this time, for Best Supporting Actor in the movie, Oloibiri.

Also, in recognition of his role in blossoming the Nigerian movie industry, the actor was bestowed with the Industry Merit Award at the 2013 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA). Similarly, he was honoured with the AMAA Lifetime Achievement Awards in 2016 for outstanding achievements and contributions to the African film industry.

Jacobs was conferred with the National Honour of the Member of the Federal Republic (MFR) by a former president, Goodluck Jonathan, in 2011.


Jacobs recounted the bizarre situation in which he met and introduced himself to his future wife, Ajoke Silva, a fellow thespian, while at the National Theatre for a production meeting in 1981, just after he returned to Nigeria.

“I was having a meeting about a production in the National Theatre when the door opened and this beautiful lady walked in,” he recalled. “Immediately, I said: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, this is the lady I am going to marry.’ And we had never met before.

“She just looked at me and left. After that, we became friends.”

Five years later, Jacobs married Silva. In 1987, the couple had their first child, Dayo, a daughter. She, however, died on 18 July 1996, while undergoing corrective surgery. Dayo was aged 10.

The couple currently has two living children: Olusoji and Olugbenga, both boys.

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Net worth

Jacobs is, by media reports, estimated to be worth around $3 million. At the prime of his acting career, Jacobs was one of the highest-paid actors in Nigeria, thanks to his dexterity and reputation as an actor.

In addition, Jacobs and his wife established the Lufodo Group, a media corporation that comprises the Lufodo Academy of Performing Arts (LAPA), Lufodo Productions, Lufodo Distributions and Lufodo Consult.

The Academy trains aspiring and current movie practitioners in acting, directing, producing, scriptwriting, editing, make-up and set designs, photography, and other aspects of filmmaking. Jacobs is the Executive Chairman of the group, while Silva serves as the Executive Director. Lufodo Productions is the arm of the group which produces media content for the platform of theatre, radio, and screen.

Lufodo Distributions handles the distribution of media content, while Lufodo Consult provides bespoke, intensive, elocution and presentation training for executives, professionals, and corporate bodies.


Sometime in 2021, speculations arose over Jacobs’ state of health following pictures that surfaced online, in which he appeared frail. His wife, Silva, addressed the speculations in an interview with Chude Jideonwo, disclosing that her husband has dementia with Lewy Body (DLB).

“This has been going on for a couple of years. My husband is dealing with issues and it is been going on for a couple of years. It is known as dementia with Lewy Body. It is a degenerative disease that affects the brain and it is almost like a Parkinson’s type of disease, it affects the brain and affects the person,” she said.

The illness has, unfortunately, inhibited Jacobs from being active with his first love, acting, as the last known movie he starred in was The Royal Hibiscus Hotel in 2017.

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Gabriel is a trained political scientist, and a qualified and versatile communications professional who has worked as a journalist and Public Relations executive. He has a knack for content creation and development and is a keen digital native interested in all things good.
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