The prayer of every parent is to have a child that would carry on with their legacy when they depart this world. This must have been atop the prayer list of popular Nollywood actress Funmi Martins before her untimely death, and it is safe to say her solemn prayer was granted.
Funmi Martins was one of the few Nollywood actresses who fans loved to see in movies. Their pictures on the poster of a new or yet-to-be-released movie is enough to sell out a movie and producers chase after them to feature in their movies.
Born in Ilesha, Osun State in Southwest Nigeria in September 1963, she had two children – Nollywood actress Mide Funmi-Martins and Ayo Martins for her first husband before their marriage crashed and in 2002, she gave birth to her third and last child Akanbi Ayomipo Peters for popular Afrojuju singer Sir Shina Peters.
She spent her early life in Lagos, Ibadan in Oyo State and attended Oke-Ona Primary and Grammar School in Abeokuta, Ogun State. After her secondary education, she was admitted at Beepo Secretarial Institute in Ibadan where she bagged a diploma in secretarial studies. Thereafter, she went into modeling before finally settling for a career in the make believe industry.
She landed her first movie role in 1993 when she starred in ‘Nemesis’ a movie directed by Fidelis Duker, one of Nigeria’s foremost filmmakers. She would later feature in several movies that made her a household name and one of the most sought after in the industry in the 1990s.
Some of the popular movies she starred in included – Eto Mi, Pelumi, Ija Omode, Eru Eleru among many others.
Her first Yoruba movie role came from veteran actor, Adebayo Salami popularly known as Oga Bello and she was one of the few actresses during her time who could act in both Yoruba and English movies.
The beautiful actress died four months to her 39th birthday, in May 2002, the same year Nollywood lost another talented star actress Adebimpe Adekola aka Ireti. 2002 wasn’t a good year for the Yoruba movie industry, it was the year they lost some of their best to the cold hands of death.
Her death came barely two months after giving birth to her last child. After complaining of dizziness, Funmi Martins was rushed to a hospital around Iju area of Agege in Lagos on Sunday May 5th, 2002, she died of cardiac arrest the next day.
Though she left the stage early at 39, and may not have left a lot of wealth and riches but she left a heritage that her daughter Mide Funmi-Martins built on and has continued to open doors for her.
As soon as she left the stage, the industry quickly rallied round her successor and replica. Fans didn’t find it difficult transferring the love they had for Funmi Martins to Mide who looks and speaks just like her mom.
Mide who was just 23 when her mom died never had any interest in acting. The death of her mother forced her into the industry.
“This job is something I never thought I could do until my mum died and I felt I should take it up so that the name, Martins, will continue to be on fan’s lips. Ever since then, God has been awesome,” Mide said in an interview.
She would later get married to Nollywood actor Afeez Abiodun who was her mother’s manager when she was alive. She has starred in several movies as she carries on with her mother’s legacy.
Though her career was cut short very early, Funmi Martins left a legacy and lasting impression in the industry that has stamped her name in the consciousness of fans and colleagues.