Francis Okechukwu Agu popularly known as Francis Agu is a veteran Nollywood actor and a television personality. He was best known for his role on the long-running Nigerian television series “Checkmate”. He was born on 18th February 1965 in Lagos, Nigeria and died on 20th March 2007 in Lagos, Nigeria at the age of 42 years old.
Francis Agu was born to the Catholic family of Fidelis and Virginia Agu. He is originally from Enugu-Ngwo, Enugu State in the south eastern part of Nigeria. He was the seventh child in a family of eight children. His name, Okechukwu, means “God´s portion”.
Francis Agu was a quiet and intelligent youth. He was at one time a member of the Altar Boys and a Lector at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church in Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria. Francis Agu started his formal education at Ladi-Lak Institute Alagomeji, Ebute-Metta in Lagos State, Nigeria.
He later completed his secondary school education at St. Finbarr’s College in Lagos, Nigeria and obtained his West African Senior School Certificate. While still in Finbarr’s College in Lagos, he was groomed by the missionary founder of the school, Rev. Fr. Dennis Joseph Slattery.
After completing his secondary school education, Francis Agu proceeded to University of Lagos and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication. Francis Agu’s theatrical career began at the Yodrac Playhouse at St. Dominic’s Church in Yaba, Lagos State, Nigeria, at which time he was already working for the Nigeria Arab Bank in Lagos.
Francis Agu’s talent was immediately spotted by the then director of Yodrac, Isaac John. His first appearance was in the play ‘This is Our Chance’ by James Ene Henshaw, and directed by Isaac John. He played the lead role of King Damba. Others stage plays he has acted include The Gods Are Not to Blame by Ola Rotimi, and Trials of Brother Jero by Wole Soyinka.
After that he acted in an ironical play “The Man Who Never Died” which was directed by Segun Ojewuyi and performed at the National Theater in Lagos. This was followed by several productions with different theater gurus such as Chuck Mike. He also had a stint in singing with the Steve Rhodes Voices, directed by Elder Steve Rhodes himself.
In 1990, Francis Agu featured in Checkmate, a 1990s TV soap opera in which he played the character of Benny. He also starred as Ichie Million in the first Nigerian Home Video “Living in Bondage” a movie that gave him international fame and recognitions.
In 1994, he produced his first film titled “Jezebel” and went on to produce and direct many others mind blowing movies which include In the Name of the Father, A Divine Call, The Boy is Mine, Body and Soul, Love and Pride, A Dance in the Forest, and Take Me to Jesus, amongst others.
Francis Agu is one of the pioneers of the Nigerian movie industry (Nollywood) and contributed immensely to the growth of Nollywood in Nigeria and rest of the world. He has acted in more than 90 Nollywood movies before his death which include Living in Bondage, Blood Brothers, A Minute to Midnite, Untouchable, Circle of Doom, Jesus, Blood Money, etc. Francis Agu is currently married with children.
Unfortunately, Francis Agu became ill in October 2006, and died on 20th March 2007 in Lagos, Nigeria. He was one of the richest and most influential actor in Nigeria before his death with an estimated net worth of $300,000.