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Genevieve Nnaji has a Game-Changing Plan for the Future of Nollywood! Read her New Interview with Ventures Africa

BellaNaija.com

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In this amazing feature for Ventures Africa (written by author Uzodinma Iweala), we get a look into Genevieve Nnaji‘s life like never before.

The Nollywood superstar talks about her childhood and how that helped shape the woman she is today. She also talks about her journey in Nollywood in the past almost twenty years and how her new movie ‘Road To Yesterday‘ was her way of re-branding and making a comeback into the industry as an actress, a producer and a media entrepreneur.

Her company, The Entertainment Network (TEN) founded with BFF and business partner Chinny, is her way of giving back to the economy and helping the Nigerian movie industry grow beyond all measures.

Genevieve Nnaji has a game plan, and we love it!

See excerpts from the feature below.

On her childhood: I was a tomboy. I had three brothers right behind me. My sisters were too busy with themselves – you know how elder sisters are. I played football on the street. I got into a fight with a neighbor of mine who was a boy and I beat him up… I was six years old. We were mates and he was fat. He definitely asked for it and he got it.

On her dad: My dad was the kind of person you didn’t want to speak to you because you would actually feel the disappointment that you are at that time. In fact he had a way of – its not even pleading to your conscience – I think it’s a silent threat to your conscience.

On how helping her mother sell things shaped her: She traded, she sold stuff, she got her children to sell stuff for her and we had to. We had no choice. We were living in her house. We cried. She did things you needed to do at that time. Your friends are not doing it. Why should you be the one to be doing it? You’re embarrassed about it, but I’m grateful for that because I think if I wasn’t even given that chance to be humble, I probably wouldn’t appreciate what I have today and understand that it doesn’t make me better than the next person. And [I] just know that everyone is equal and everyone is entitled to love and respect.

On always being artistic: I watched a lot of TV as a child, so I think I was pretty much screen trained. Of course there was no Nigerian cinema then, so everything was on TV. As a primary school student she excelled in the arts, painting and even producing a comic book series that became very popular in her school. I would have my classmates bombard me to write the next one while they were reading.

On her first role in ‘Wanted’: My role was to interview Regina Askia, a former beauty queen turned actress who was a goddess at that time. That was major. I had to pull it off as a pro and I did it, and the producers asked me if I had done it before and I said no. They were amazed at my confidence—probably I had some training in church or something— but I remember I enjoyed doing it.

On leaving school to pursue acting: My dad didn’t find it funny. He wasn’t happy about it, but I kind of reassured him that I would go back, that it wasn’t over. He was mostly concerned about the amount of exposure film was going to bring me, coming from a very conservative, almost prudish home of a Catholic Igbo family.

On her first salary: Even the kind of car I drive right now cannot give me that kind of joy that my first ride gave me. I must have a minimum of my first salary in my wallet — two thousand Naira. I can have more, but that’s the minimum. It was my first salary. It’s dear to my heart. That was my welcome fee into the world of entrepreneurship. It’s just there. I love it. I spent more than that to get the two thousand though on transport faire, cause by the time they tell you to go and come back so many times, you’ve spent way more than that, but that was who I was. I worked for it. I have to get paid for it. I’d probably squander every money that is dashed to me, but the one I would sweat for, I don’t play with. I don’t talk money because I want people to focus on work. Money is not good for creative people. I don’t value myself materially. Take everything.

On how the storyline ‘Road to Yesterday’ came to be: I’m someone who’s dark a lot of the time. I just wonder a lot. My mind really travels a lot and I think during one of these mind journeys of mine, I was wondering about the thin line between life and death and I was thinking about something my mom had told me, stories in the family and stories from random people about how their loved ones who have passed, have appeared to them, right before they passed or the time they’re passing.

On deciding to make the movie: I made this film because I realize people grow and move on. Things change in their life, but they don’t expect things to change in yours. People don’t expect that you are human because you are a superstar. In other words, you can’t grow, learn, and make mistakes. They don’t expect those normal things from you. You are expected to know it all because you are famous.

On her celebrity status: I didn’t set out trying to be the next somebody, to be like this person. I just set out to do something that I didn’t understand, but something my heart wanted, something that comes out from within, and I just wanted to be given the chance to let it out and express myself. I am me, but I am also conscious of the fact that am being watched. I have a responsibility not just to myself but to young people.  I didn’t set out to be anybody’s role model but you grow up, you grow into yourself and become aware of how much impact you can have on the lives of other people. I don’t take it for granted and I believe in setting an example. That’s all I’m trying to do. I’m not saying I’m a saint or I’m going to be perfect. But I’ve learned that acknowledging my imperfections and my mistakes has enabled me to become wiser and smarter in the choices I make in my life. For me it’s all about being true to yourself.  When you do that you will never be a ‘wanna be’, you will be who you want to be.

For more, head over to venturesafrica.com

32 Comments

  1. @yorubadboi1

    May 13, 2016 at 7:39 am

    I love love the part she said ‘ I don’t talk about money because I want people to focus on work’ That is classic! People are quick this days to let you know your creativity is worthless (money wise). Shoutout to Remi! You didn’t stop your comic book thing and now you are on Nickelodeon and CN’s team.

    • Sweets

      May 13, 2016 at 4:39 pm

      yes that was classic …Genny wld always stand out one way or another

  2. Sweets

    May 13, 2016 at 8:22 am

    Interesting Read..I am a huge fan of Genevieve and the one thing I’ve noticed most about her over the years is she alway’s put her best foot forward in anything she does which says a lot to the young ones out there that no matter how good or great you become you must never stop trying to do better or be better,,,Nice one Genny The world can’t wait to see what you have up your sleeves next….

  3. Dotun

    May 13, 2016 at 8:23 am

    Well spoken,you are an inspiration to a lot of young ones,from a very humble beginnings,with hard work,we can all excel.A lot of our young artist are being dragged a lot for youthful exuberance,with people failing to realize they are humans with flaws,and will need time to grow wiser and learn from their imperfections.Good luck Genevieve.

  4. Ij

    May 13, 2016 at 9:14 am

    Jenny baby.. alwasy a class act… awesome!

  5. nene

    May 13, 2016 at 9:30 am

    did she really have to say the boy she beat up was fat? smh. genevieve still need to learn to grant interviews. anyway, this is literally the most open interview i’ve seen of her.

    • Gen Gen

      May 13, 2016 at 10:35 am

      “nene
      And if she did? Na that one you see for all the story wey author Uzodinma Iweala write???? SMH…

    • Niyola

      May 13, 2016 at 3:23 pm

      ” Gen Gen
      e be like say na only “nene waka come…..Lol

    • Nene

      May 13, 2016 at 5:50 pm

      Please where did u come from? All these fake new or ppl always coming here to support their friends. U are not a commenter. Biko si eba puo!

    • Awele Omie

      May 13, 2016 at 7:01 pm

      @Gen Gen @Niyola
      Well done for dealing with cyber bullies LIKE @nene tru tru e be like say na only @nene waka come ….#SMH and #WalkAway

  6. George

    May 13, 2016 at 9:49 am

    She is so professional . nollywoods sweetheart.

  7. man

    May 13, 2016 at 10:02 am

    “I don’t value myself materially. Take everything”. No wonder, endorsements and god scripts with great producers fall on ur laps. GENEVIEVE , you’re very inspiring and very very humble. I love how you have kept ur private life from the public eye. You’re mysterious and that’s your selling point. Keep being you Genevieve. Can’t wait to see more work from you. ROAD TO YESTERDAY was good movie; a simple story in a complex manner. We want more darling

  8. Tosin

    May 13, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Classy all the way.
    Lovely.

  9. man

    May 13, 2016 at 10:06 am

    I’m not saying I’m a saint or I’m going to be perfect. But I’ve learned that acknowledging my imperfections and my mistakes has enabled me to become wiser and smarter in the choices I make in my life. For me it’s all about being true to yourself. When you do that you will never be a ‘wanna be’, you will be who you want to be…………………….

    THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH FOR THESE WORDS. LOVE YOU GENEVIEVE

  10. Gen Gen

    May 13, 2016 at 10:23 am

    Ace Ace Ace Invterview Genny……with a touch of mystery still hovering around the ‘unspoken’ ….and that’s what set you apart from OTHERS. The world is yet to know the REAL GENEVIEVE NNAJI and it’s at your pace! No pressure ….many more thanks to author Uzodinma Iweala for his unbiased portray of our QUEEN! WE NEED MORE LIKE HIM NOT THE EVERYDAY phd Genny has been subjected to over the past couple of years… #JustSaying

  11. Gen Gen

    May 13, 2016 at 10:32 am

    This here is an INTERVIEW And a proper one too! For once … A TRUE REPRESENTATION OF GENEVIEVE NNAJI as she says and intends with her ‘unspoken’ well interpreted by author Uzodinma Iweala appropriately without the usual PHD syndrome that usually trails our NIJA journalists who (in my opinion) are all out for a pound of flesh from the Screen goddess. UNBIASED with readers left to enter her imaginative world by choice….Excellent Interview Genevieve Nnaji, well done!

  12. Timi Rogers

    May 13, 2016 at 10:35 am

    I love you Genny……
    You motivated every fiber of my being again with this words.
    God bless you real good

  13. Eneh Cecilia

    May 13, 2016 at 10:56 am

    DAT part thou…… “being truthful to urself will never make u be a WANNA BE rather will make u be who u want to be” nice inspirational talks. love u Genny.

  14. Gen Gen

    May 13, 2016 at 11:27 am

    BRILLIANT! BRILLIANT!! Interview Genny…..with a lot said but more unspoken still leaving readers with the MYSTERY called …GENEVIEVE NNAJI. Mant thanks author Uzodinma Iweala for your TRUE and UNBIASED rep of our screen goddess. Brilliant package and more of this this journalists….STOP THE phd syndrome when you write about our celebrities….MAKE UNA ‘HeaR WorD’

  15. Miwa

    May 13, 2016 at 11:36 am

    I’m not saying I’m a saint or I’m going to be perfect. But I’ve learned that acknowledging my imperfections and my mistakes has enabled me to become wiser and smarter in the choices I make in my life. For me it’s all about being true to yourself. When you do that you will never be a ‘wanna be’, you will be who you want to be…………………….”

    This hit me right to the bone, Genny ure a star. The Sky will be your starting point.

  16. Odine

    May 13, 2016 at 11:40 am

    Genny did impress me with this one. But not to sound negative, it’s a Q&A, if you can’t be articulate on a Q&A, I wonder what then. I’ve seen her live/TV interviews, not impressive. A lot of celebrities can’t hold engaging interviews anyway. But Genny got on this one. Short, concise and fairly interesting. I like it. Really do actually.

  17. Prince

    May 13, 2016 at 11:55 am

    Nice interview, lots to learn from there.

  18. Jb

    May 13, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    King Genevieve Nnaji! My for-evergreen screen goddess. She smell of class all the time you hear from her.

  19. Aderonke

    May 13, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    Genny dear, my admration of you just increased. You were sincere and truthful. It’s obvious you spoke from your heart! Keep it up babes…
    my favorite lines “I am me, but I am also conscious of the fact that am being watched. I have a responsibility not just to myself but to young people. I didn’t set out to be anybody’s role model but you grow up, you grow into yourself and become aware of how much impact you can have on the lives of other people. I don’t take it for granted and I believe in setting an example” .
    Beautiful words Genny!

  20. Aderonke

    May 13, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    sorry “admiration”

  21. Niyola

    May 13, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    What a woman! one…two…three times A LADY! Don’t need no VALIDATION from nonbody mehn….thats MY GENEVIEVE NNAJI. Consistently KINGING and a beautiful soul…God bless you MORE as this is just the beginning of GREATER feats!

    • Awele Omie

      May 13, 2016 at 7:05 pm

      @Niyola
      One…..two….three times a LADY INDEED. She is indeed a WOMAN! God bless you GENEVIEVE NNAJI

  22. haha

    May 13, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    Miwa and man I assume are the same person, on the same team
    Gen Gen another member of the team

    Looooool. No further comment. PR game on point 🙂

  23. FinchleysFinest

    May 13, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    Am I the only one that noticed that comments on Bella Naija has been very positive nowadays??

    Welldone guys…. reason I left LIB for Bella Naija…..

    • LOL

      May 13, 2016 at 5:33 pm

      Relevance??

  24. hycien

    May 14, 2016 at 3:07 am

    you are really impeccable, magnificent and extremely intelligent, this interview seem quite confuse as i ponder if is you (genny)… but realised the queen i know is full of suprises and wondersss! This was so touching frankly speaking, down to earth, and inspiring. ma role model gist we about your super-“tactiques”

  25. joy okeh

    May 24, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    Thanks so much nollynood goddess u are an inspiration to so many out there and remain my best in nollynood and No one star too. Expecting more good works of u, love u so so much.

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