For many celebrities, the road to stardom wasn’t an easy one. While they seem to have a glamorous, many have had their fair share of difficulties but chose to forge ahead doggedly with determination.
Listening to some Nigerians share their ‘na who give up fuck up’ or transition from grass to grace story is to serve as an encouragement and inspiration that Rome wasn’t built in a day.
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Read on to catch up on how these 5 Nigerian celebrities were able to move past their poor situation to affluence.
Adedimeji Lateef — I begged for money, food; was paid N1k for a lead role
39 year old Dimeji Lateef barely needs an introduction in the Nigerian movie industry. He has successfully carved a niche for himself by becoming one of the top brands.
While many think he comes from an affluent background, especially because he speaks so well, Lateef who is married to colleague, Bimpe Oyebade has said otherwise. The actor while trying to encourage his fans told his own story in an Instagram post made on Tuesday, January 31, 2023. Dimeji Lateef said:
“A small story of “NA WHO GIVE UP FUCK UP”
The journey and Story of my life was never smooth but this Abeokuta Born and Lagos bred boy never gave up!
Memories of the very beginning, when the journey started . I was just an helpless young boy who does his things and make people laugh unintentionally, to the point that I was picked up in secondary school By a non governmental organization whose main aim is to train young people majorly through acting, dance and music
Memories of when I gained admission into the university and still didn’t give up, I remember the days I skipped classes to follow this dream of mine, to the year I graduated from UNI 2007/2008, this stubborn boy still didn’t give up.
Memories of the days I borrowed money to go on movie set, borrow clothes to wear on set even though I wasn’t getting paid, I remember begging for money and food to survive.
Memories of the multiple times i got rejected, Insulted , Ridiculed and bullied that ACTING is not my career path and that I’II never make it in this field that I choose
I remember the times I almost gave up on myself and the career, I remember crying endlessly and told myself it’s better to die
Memories of the times I walked hours to get on set and rehearsals simply because I had No fare, I remember when I had to be a camera boy ‚Wash Oga’s Cars.
Then the times i finally started getting paid 1k, 2k, 5k for a lead role, remember receiving the payments with so much joy, happiness and gratitude
This journey of mine from being just a little boy with big dreams to becoming the Superstar that I am today has come with a lot of challenges and Stories untold, I’ll tell the whole story someday to inspire one or two.
I am grateful to God for the journey so far, for his grace and mercy.
This little story of mine is to let you know that your dreams are valid.
No matter what it is you are going through right now, as long as you do not give up you will get there. It might take time and I know waiting isn’t easy, but hang in there and Keep doing your best. You will make it, God will come through for you and you will laugh last.”
Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde — My mother and I went begging for money
Omotola is a super star actress who has a fulfilling career and family. She made the Times Magazine list of 100 Most Influential People in the world in 2013 and in 2018, one of the Most Influential 100 People of African Descent.
Omotola, aka Omosexy looks like she has always had it all but little did we know that she had her fair share of troubles.
In Omotola Jalade’s words:
“Before my father died,we had a good standard of living. Immediately my father died,the first thing that came to everybody’s mind is,oh,their standard of living is going to drop. They are going to become very poor. She would probably become a prostitute. So my mum was on edge and under a lot of pressure. She was very uptight,always walking on pins and needles. I am the only girl,first daughter.
So,at a point I was really confused as to how my life was going to go,because there were times when we didn’t have anything to eat. That is the truth.
We are 3-myself and my 2 younger brothers,I went through a lot within the time I lost my father and found my feet.
Once, my mother and I went to beg for money in the house of one prominent Nigerian. We were so totally hopeless that day. I have never told anybody this before.
We cried all day because my younger brothers school fees was due and we didn’t have money to pay.
There was this man on my street,who is very rich. He is into Oil,Crude Oil. We walked to his house because we didn’t know what else to do.
We sat down at his gate from morning till night,when he came my mother and I sat on the pavement on the floor,by the gutter waiting for him to pull by. I remember that when he got to the gate,he wound down and he recognized my mum from their days at Landlords meeting.
He said Madam whats your problem. She told him everything.
He said oh I really feel for you.
Maybe we will talk later I am just coming from work and he drove in. He said I am really tired. The truth is that we never got anything from him.”
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Mercy Johnson-Okojie — we moved into an uncompleted building with no roof
Mercy Johnson has had a successful career in Nollywood and currently runs her cooking show. The actress is a brand influencer with many endorsements under her belt.
Narrating her ‘na who give up fuck up story’ to Tribune, Mercy Johnson said:
“I am the fourth child from a family of seven children. I’m from a very humble background. My dad is an ex-military officer and we basically grew up in a military environment.
There have been the good and bad times; there have been rumours and scandals. Sometimes when I cry in movies, it isn’t the script that makes mecry.
When I recall my humble beginning, I give thanks to God. When I remember how we moved into an uncompleted building and had to take cover whenever it rained because of the condition of the house; how my brother did a menial job as a bricklayer to earn a living and those days when we rolled over a stick to cover the windows up till the point when I started acting and raised money to cover the roof…
I recall those days we were living with lizards because the floor and the walls of the house were not plastered, or when I had scars as a result of my several falls.”
Ramsey Nouah — my ‘grace to grass’ story
Ramsey is a super star now but things were also rough for him while growing up. Talking about his grass to grace story, or grace to grass, Ramsey Nouah said:
“My growing up was like tasting the two sides of a coin. When I said tasting the two sides of a coin; I mean tasting being a rich man and a poor man. I grew up with my mother, and with a silver spoon, I had it all. When I began to realize that I had good things to show off, everything disappeared. We started from grace to grass; that has helped me a lot because it totally balanced the equation of life. It gives me confidence in all spheres. For instance, I can hang out with the enlightened or the rich. I can mingle with them very easily without any complication or complex whatsoever.
Also, if it is the low class or poor people, I can mingle very easily with them. I can eat a fantastic dinner in a huge, expensive restaurant and I can go eat amala at a buka and I would not feel anything. I don’t care being a popular actor or a role model. I am a role model to everybody.
Those times when things got really bad for my mother and I and we had nothing. It was so bad that we didn’t have a home or shelter to live in. We had to stay in a store, a small store that could take only one mat.
My mother and I squeezed ourselves in that mat. We didn’t even have a cup to drink water not to talk of a stove to cook. And my mother had to borrow, beg and stuff like that. These were moments when I was young I didn’t realize the gravity of poverty we were in, I couldn’t tell.
Those terrible moments when we had nothing and we were living off people. People were just helping us out. There were times we didn’t have food to eat three or four days. You haven’t eaten and your stomach is rumbling but you don’t have any place to go. There was a time I lived on the street, in shops. There was a time I slept under the bridge. It was unfortunate that there were no records so that we can have memories we could play back now. To me, I am so extremely grateful that I went through it. At that time I hated everybody around me. In fact, I used to question why God was doing this to me. But I think God knew that I needed this for my future.”
P-Square — we had only one bed, family of 10 in one-room apartment
Nigerian singers, Paul and Peter Okoye are one of the biggest artistes in Nigeria and Africa as a whole but according to an interview granted after their mother’s demise, things were very though growing up. In Peter aka Mr P’s words:
“We have our poverty story, however. Yes, in our own way, we experienced poverty. It was very bad. Our mother used to sell pap and our father was trying to set up his bakery. After school, we all would go to the bakery to see how we could help out. When you have six boys and two girls living in a one-room apartment, that should tell you how bad it was. The kids live in the living room, where there were two beds and my parents had their own room, where they stayed with our sisters. Paul and I are the last boys.
I remembered in a day I cannot spend up to N100, breakfast N30, lunch and supper get the same budget, the remaining N10 for pure water. To survive, I once worked as a supermarket attendant and Paul did some electrical repair for pay.
Before we moved to Lagos after our graduation, we took our CD and DVD to our parents. The DVD contained our video. We told them we are done with schooling and we wanted to move to Lagos. We assured them that music will change our lives. In preparation for our relocation, we started selling little things that we had and also some of our father’s little stuffs. We even stole some of his money,about N100,000 or so, though he wasn’t aware. We were four boys about to embark on that exodus.
Our father brought out N100, 000 and said, “Take, you people, you are on your own, don’t call me to send you bag of Garri or anything, not even anything.” We moved to Lagos in 2004.”