The first time Mena Sodje acted, she was just a child without experience or forewarning. It would lead her to discover a passion unlike any other. She would hold this torch for acting for many years, even while studying Accounting and Finance at Delta State University, Abraka.
As soon as she finished school, the actress decided to get some more training, this time in acting. In 2014, she enrolled in the Royal Arts Academy Nigeria and started acting professionally in 2015. She played a minor role, Oby, in Jenifa’s Diary season 1 (Episode 13). She also starred in two Royal Arts Academy projects as ‘Hope James’ in Spotlight and ‘Nurse Ada’ in season 2 of Losing Control.
Determined to better her craft, Mena attended trainings and workshops, one of which was 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 Loop Count (screened at the British Film Institute London), To Love Again, Within Reach, Food, Love, or Both, and To Alice.
Her appearance as Pippa in Tinsel in 2017 opened Mena to a new audience and experience. It was also the start of her TV series career. However, before her big break came in 2020, she continued honing her craft on projects like 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 Africa Magic’s Original Film, Now That We Are Married, and Showmax’s first original animated series, Jay Jay: The Chosen One. Other movies she’s appeared in since 2020 include Juju Stories, A Chain Reaction, and The Hookup. She’s also appeared in several made-for-TV films on Africa Magic channels and Rok TV, all on DStv.
This year, especially in this final quarter, she’s become the TV queen. The fast-rising star is currently a cast member on three TV shows simultaneously airing on Africa Magic Showcase (DStv ch. 151). She is ‘Halima Cole’ on Ripples: The New Generation, Ojoma (Akudiya) on Masquerades of Aniedo and ‘Abies’ on Love and Light. Once again, 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 oil magnate late Leslie Dehinde-Philips. She hates her mom 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 mom hated her. Despite being a little spoiled, she’s 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 ch. 151 or GOtv ch. 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.
Mena Sodje is one of many fast-rising stars that Africa Magic is helping to become more prominent. In a recent interview, her colleague, Tope Olowoniyan, shed light on this better than anyone can. She said, “I am honoured that my growth in Nollywood fundamentally was because of Africa 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.”
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 and resumes quickly thanks to Africa Magic. But this story focuses on Mena Sodje, so it must finish with her.
Mena is on track to becoming one of the mega actresses out of Nollywood. Soon, more streamers will chase after her, and she’ll 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!