Joke Silva, MFR (born 29 September 1961) is a Nigerian actress, director, and businesswoman.
A graduate of the University of Lagos and the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London, Joke Silva began her career in film in the early 1990s. In 1998 she had a major role, starring opposite Colin Firth and Nia Long in the British-Canadian film The Secret Laughter of Women. In 2006, she won “Best Actress in a Leading Role” at the 2nd Africa Movie Academy Awards for her performance in Women’s Cot, and “Best Actress in a Supporting Role” at the 4th Africa Movie Academy Awards in 2008 for her performance as a grandmother in White Waters.
Joke Silva is married to actor Olu Jacobs. The couple founded and operate the Lufodo Group, a media corporation that consists of film production, distribution assets and the Lufodo Academy of Performing Arts. Joke Silva is Director of Studies at the latter. Joke Silva is also the pioneer managing director of Malete Film Village, in association with the Kwara State University.
On 29 September 2014, Joke Silva received recognition as a Member of the Order of the Federal Republic, one of Nigeria’s National Honours, at the International Conference Centre in Abuja.
Joke Silva was born in Lagos into an Amaro family of four children. Her mother, Adebimbola Silva, a pioneering doctor, died in July 2015. Her father, Emmanuel Afolabi Silva was a lawyer. Joke Silva attended Holy Child College in Lagos. At university she was part of a cultural group that included the playwright Bode Osanyin and the singer Stella Monye. Joke Silva took a year off from her studies, during which time she began working as an actress. Silva then relocated to England, studying drama at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Initially, her parents were opposed to Silva’s decision to go into the theatre but they soon began to support her, happy at the success she made of her career. During a slow period of her career, she returned to school, studying English at the University of Lagos.
Earlier roles (1990–2004)
Joke Silva has starred in numerous films and television series in both the English and Yoruba languages. One of her earliest roles was in the 1990 English film Mind Bending. In 1993 she appeared in Owulorojo, followed by Violated in 1995. In 1998 she starred opposite Colin Firth and Nia Long in the British-Canadian film The Secret Laughter of Women, in which she portrayed Nene. Author Finola Kerrigan noted than Silva stood out as an exceptional actress in the Nigerian film industry after mentioning her role.
In 2002, Joke Silva starred opposite Bimbo Akintola in Keeping Faith. Akintola later cited Silva, whom she refers to as “Aunty Joke”, as a major career influence, adding, “Silva has done a lot, but it’s not even about the things that she did, it’s about the things she didn’t realize that she did”. Also in 2002, Silva co-produced and starred in The Kingmaker with Olu Jacobs. This was followed by roles in pictures such as A Husband’s Wife (2003), Shylock (2004), and A Past Came Calling (2004).
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