A total of 94 individuals have entered the Big Brother Naija house as housemates for the past six editions. Asides from the staggering monetary reward, BBNaija, more importantly, also provides a gigantic publicity platform for the housemates to showcase themselves. It acts as a springboard for the housemates in their careers and introduces them into the corporate limelight.
A good number of former housemates have utilised the exposure from appearing on the show to bag endorsements and/or represents various brands or rise further through the echelon of their careers.
With another season set to premiere in a few months’ time, this piece looks at 10 of the former contestants who have made an impact in their chosen field of endeavour or on society after their sojourn in the house and can be deemed as the ‘most successful BBNaija housemates so far’.
Cynthia Nwadiora, popularly known as Cee-C, contested in the third edition of the show, tagged: ‘Double Wahala’. The trained lawyer was deemed a firebrand by fans throughout her stay in the house but excelled in the various tasks given to the housemates. She emerged the first runner-up at the end of the show and immediately became a toast for various brands. She was either signed as a brand ambassador or contracted to do influencing jobs for different products and services. Cee-C also utilised her acting talents unearthed during the show and has subsequently delved into Nollywood.
Tobi Bakre was also a housemate in the ‘Double Wahala’ edition in 2018. He entered the house as an investment banker but was very glaring that he had a flair for photography, painting and modelling. As time went by in the house, his dexterity as an actor, a compere and TV host shone through. After his third-place finish on the show, Tobi dropped his suit and tie of the banking world and dived full-time into the entertainment industry. The multifaceted, Mr ‘Jack of all trades’ subsequently got acting gigs and featured in a number of feature films, prominent of them being ‘Sugar Rush’. He has also hosted TV shows, reality talent shows, while also continuing to pursue his passion of photography and painting. He has also bagged a number of endorsement deals over the years.
Erica Nlewedim had already featured in some movies and television series before entering the Big Brother Naija ‘Lockdown’ house. The actress immediately distinguished herself in the acting tasks assigned to the housemates and lived up to her nickname ‘Star girl’. Unfortunately for her, she got disqualified on day 49 despite being the Head of House due to disciplinary issues. Regardless of the controversy, Erica came out of the house to massive fan love, as well as the attention of brands that signed her up almost immediately. Some of her endorsements include that with a popular alcohol brand, a bank and a foreign hair maker. She has also gone on to star in prominent films expected to be screened at the cinemas later in the year.
No one has ever had a better run in the history of BBNaija than Olamilekan Agbeleshe. The singer, rapper and songwriter, whose stage name is Laycon, had everyone talking about him right from the stage. He topped the public vote every week he was nominated and went on to win the Big Brother Naija ‘Lockdown’. As expected, brands were eager to get him in their corner and he bagged endorsement deals with an alcoholic beverage, a candy brand and GOtv, which is owned by MultiChoice, organisers of the show. He continues to ride on the fame he got from the house as he recently released his debut album entitled: “Shall We Begin.”
Rebecca Nengi Hampson was also one of the BBNaija ‘Lockdown’ housemates. Although she was the last housemate to enter the house, she was always in front in terms of activities and tasks in the house. She made history as the first individual and woman to win both the first and last Head of House challenges. Nengi held on her own with elegance and poise in the challenging house and it was no surprise that brands literally queued up to get her signature. She represents various brands either as an ambassador or as an award-winning influencer, some of them include an alcoholic brewing company, a telecommunications equipment company and an online shopping company. She also recently re-launched her shoe line, ‘Shoes by Flora’, with initial sales reported to have gone off the roof. Nengi has also starred in a couple of movies and appeared in a series that will be aired later in the year.
The Nigerian-British Mike Edwards entered the ‘Pepper Dem’ house determined to have a more intimate experience of Nigeria. Although he represented the country as a high jump athlete, the Manchester-born entrepreneur wanted to have a proper feel of his fatherland, as well as expand the scope of his business enterprise in the country. Mike got not only the experience of the country but was able to bring his Aireyys Cigar, the first black-owned cigar line in the United Kingdom, into the Nigerian market. He has also become an ambassador for various brands, including a car company, an alcoholic drink and a lemonade beverage, while also actively pursuing his athletic career.
Natacha Akide, popularly known as Tacha, already had a degree of popularity prior to her BBNaija ‘Pepper Dem’ adventure. Right from the first day in the house, Tacha was stern and blunt with her fellow housemates, which consequently portrayed her as being fiery. Despite being nominated frequently, she survived by being top of the public voting poll. Her journey to the finale was, however, cut short after she was disqualified due to infringement of the rules. She has, however, enjoyed a renaissance since she exited the house as she has been a darling of brands. She also recently launched her logistics company, with her loyal fans equipping her business with a van.
Mercy Eke entered into the BBNaija ‘Pepper Dem’ house not knowing what fate had in store for her. The video vixen just wanted the huge exposure that the show would give her, but little did she know that she will get much more than that. After a gruelling 99 days filled with tension, fights and romance for her, Mercy was announced the winner of the season, becoming the first female winner of the show. The post-show has even been more glamorous for her: bagging a number of endorsements or acting as an influencer for various brands, including as a tea company, a cryptocurrency company and an automobile dealer. She also owns her own real estate company.
It is really difficult for anyone not to notice the strides gained by Bisola Aiyeola after her appearance on the ‘See Gobe’ edition in 2017. Bisola had already experienced fame from a reality singing competition, as well as featuring in movies before entering the house. She showed her versatility in the various tasks in the house whether in dramas, mental or physical tasks. She ended up as the first runner-up of the show and went on to feature in a host of television series and popular blockbuster movies, with a rave rating of her performances. She has also gone on to become a notable face for brands, appearing on TV commercials, shows and billboards.
If there is any ex-housemate whose impact can never ever be questioned, it has to be Ebuka Obi-Uchendu. The lawyer entered the first season of Big Brother Nigeria in 2006 and became one of the most popular housemates amongst his colleagues and fans. To the surprise of many, he was evicted on day 57. But that did not deter the evident star from setting himself apart and shining brightly. In what seemed like a carefully orchestrated move, Ebuka maintained a weekly column for a national newspaper for over two years and writing for blogs. He also positioned himself as a media personality, becoming one of the most sought-after comperes and TV host in Nigeria. It was no surprise that brands began chasing after him and he signed endorsement deals with a major telecommunications brand, as well as a popular brewing company. After returning from the United States for his Master’s degree, Ebuka returned to the media space and is the current host of some shows such as Rubbin Minds, Judging Matters and the show which birthed him to fame, BBNaija. He is also an ambassador for various brands, including an alcoholic drink and a major telecommunications equipment company. He is, indeed, the star, so far, of all the former BBNaija housemates.