Iya Gbonkan, whose real name is Bandele Olayinka Margaret, is a 65–year-old Nigerian actress making waves in the Yoruba film industry. She boasts of an estimated net worth of over $50,000 made up from her movies. Born on 14 September 1958, Iya is most popular for her role in Koto Orun (1989), which birthed her stage name.
Few actors in the Nollywood industry have been able to remain relevant as long as Iya Gbonkan has. She is an actress who has shared the stage with probably the best dramatist in Nigeria, such as Duro Ladipo, Kola Ogunmola, and Pa Oyin Adejobi. The actress, who has walked the path of fame and limelight for over 20 years, is probably known best for the mean and revolting character she accepts in movies.
How Old is Iya Gbonkan?
Iya Gbonkan is a 65-year-old indigene of Otu from Itesiwaju Local Government of Oyo State. Although Iya does not know her real age, she believes she was born on 14 September 1958 into a polygamous home. Her mother was a local of the Iseyin community, while her father was mainly a trader in Ibadan.
Iya Gbonkan was raised as an only child by her mother in the course of the marriage between her parents. The Yoruba actress had a difficult childhood while growing up. At the time she was still living in her hometown, she was badly maltreated by her relatives, thereby leading her to flee the place she called home to Ibadan.
While at Ibadan, the 65-year-old had to take up menial jobs to get by without her parent’s knowledge or consent. She was at one point employed as a housemaid before she got into the Nollywood industry.
What is Iya Gbonkan’s Real Name?
Iya Gbonkan’s real name is Margaret Olayinka Mojoyoniola Bandele. Many are not conversant with her birth name, as she is popularly known as Iya Gbonkan, a name derived from the movie Koto Orun which she appeared in 1989.
In the movie, she was dubbed Iya Gbonkan, which signifies a “wicked witch,” by the late Yoruba actor Tajudeen Akanmu, popularly known as Koledowo. The name has since become a household name, especially as it fits along with her small stature and the roles she plays in the Yoruba movie industry in Nigeria.
Iya Gbonkan’s Career Highlights and How She Became Famous
In the period since Iya Gbokan started acting, she has become a name to be reckoned with among Yoruba actors. The popularity she gained was further enhanced by the unique roles she chooses to act as well as her natural stature and facial disposition in movies which makes her appearance quite abnormal.
Her journey to the screens was merely by a stroke of chance. At the time, Iya Gbokan was merely working as a housemaid in Ibadan. While there, an arranged marriage was decided on her behalf and scheduled to take place at Sallah without her consent. The veteran actress at the time was locked up for about nine days with only food and water but managed to escape soon after and ran through to the border of Kudeti without the knowledge of her captors.
It was during her flight from an impending arranged marriage that she met Duro Ladipo, a Nigerian-Yoruba writer, playwright, actor, producer, and dramatist. Duro took her in and showed her the ropes of stage acting. Iya Gbonkan was with him for about four years.
Iya Gbonkan Worked as a Stage Performer For Many Years Before the Screens
From Kudeti, Iya Gbonkan moved to Osogbo, where she worked for six years for Kola Ogunmola before his death. Other big names and dramatists she worked with in her youthful days were Akin Ogungbe, another actor she worked with for 3 years.
Pa Oyin Adejobi was part of the dramatists she shared her talent with, nevertheless, they had a fallout that took several years to settle after her return to Osogbo. Since then, she began gaining popularity with films like the TV series Ifa Olokun by Yemi Elebubuon. Her most popular movie was produced by Yekini Ajileye, known as Koto Orun and Koto Aiye.
So far, Iya has worked with a variety of actors, such as Gabriel Afolayan, Kemi Afolabi Adesipe, Lateef Adedimeji, Eniola Ajao, Odunlade Adekola, Yinka Qadri, Bimbo Ademoye, Aisha Lawal, Bimbo Oshin, Adegoke Ademuyiwa, Segun Oni, Bode Olayode, and many others.
List of Iya Gbonkan’s Movies
- Awon Eleye Oba (2023)
- Iseju Meta Aiye (2022)
- Tanpepe (2022)
- Entipede (2022)
- Omo Iya Gbonkan (2022)
- Sinzu Money (2022)
- Ayilara (2022)
- Kodoro (2022)
- Ajekunrin (2021)
- Igi Aladi (2019)
- Omi Aro (2019)
- Olukoya (2019)
- Baba Oni Bread (2019)
- Game of Death (2019)
- Abuke Oshin (2018)
- Ayekooto (2018)
- Koto Orun (1989)
Iya Gbonkan’s Net Worth
Iya Gbonkan’s net worth is estimated to be about $50,000 (23 million Naira). There are sources that suggest that the actress’ net worth may be as low as $10,000 and running as high as over $100,000.
The seasoned actress with over two decades of experience gained her wealth majorly from her acting career. It is unclear if she owns other businesses or rather waits for roles to get paid for.
At about the time she became an actress, the salary of actors in Nigeria was meager. However, as time progressed and as the movie industry evolved, many actors started earning nothing less than ₦100,000. Since she has appeared in no fewer than 20 movies, she may as well have recorded millions.
Iya Gbonkan’s House
Iya Gbonkan does not own a house, and neither does she have a car. As of 2020, when the covid 19 pandemic was ravaging through streets, and people’s lives, Iya Gbonkan expressed her grief over not having a personal home or being able to afford a house or her own car. She was enthusiastic about seeking help from fans who were willing to help her build the house of her dream so she could be fulfilled.
Iya Gbonkan’s Husband
According to Iya Gbonkan, she got married to Duro Ladopo’s younger brother, whom she had met at one of their numerous shows. Before his death, Iya Gbonkan’s husband was a teacher and the father of her two children. During the period of their marriage, they lived in Osogbo.
Who are Iya Gbonkan’s Children?
Although Iya Gbonkan is a popular actress, her children are hardly known to the public. According to the actress, she has two children, a male and a female.
In a 2021 Twitter post that went viral, a man who goes by the name Asiwaju Lerry, a digital content creator, claimed to be her grandson. However, Asiwaju Lerry, in March 2023, came out publicly on his Facebook page to emphasize that the whole debacle began after his picture was photoshopped alongside that of Iya Gbonkan. He claims that he had never met the feared actress, and neither are they related.