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Genoveva Umeh Shares Acting Journey, Most Memorable On-Set Experience & Skin Care Routine in This Edition of “Doing Life With”

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Doing Life With… is a BellaNaija Features series that aims to showcase how people are living, working, travelling, journalling, taking care of their families and… everything in between. We aim to document the lives of all people and ensure everyone is well-represented at BN through storytelling. 

Last week, we had a conversation with Ezinne Odukomaiya, a young mother of four. Did you miss it? Read it here.

This week, we are doing life with Genoveva Umeh, the talented British–Nigerian Actress. She was nominated for Best Actress in a Drama at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Award 2022 for her role in ‘A Tune Away’. Genoveva is popular with her roles in Blood Sisters, the first Nigerian Netflix Original series and Far From Home, the first Nigerian Netflix young adult TV series.

Hey Genoveva, how are you feeling today?

I’m feeling good. I’m currently watching ‘Dreaming Whilst Black’ and just had one of my favourite meals: Amala with Ewedu and Gbegiri with boiled titus fish and assorted (roundabout and liver). A delicious meal I fell in love with living in Lagos.

This sounds yummy! You came back to Nigeria to focus on acting

Yeah, I did.

What influenced this decision?

Growing up in Anambra and Enugu states, my parents instilled in me a love for family and culture. Engaging in activities like contemporary dance and watching renowned actors like Genevieve Nnaji, Patience Ozokwor, and Nkem Owoh shaped my passion for authentic African storytelling.

Relocating to London for high school, I found solace in drama classes at the Identity School of Acting. I fell in love with acting, from preparation to performance. I enjoyed British Nigerian shows like ‘Little Miss Jocelyn’, ‘Meet the Adebanjos’ and ‘Chewing Gum’ by Michaela Coel because it was about British Africans and their interactions with British culture. An experience I knew all too well. When I was 15, I heard that a show was being filmed on our street and to my surprise, it was ‘Little Miss Jocelyn.’ With so much excitement, I left our one-bedroom apartment and ran down the stairs to sit and watch Jocelyn Jee Esien film her scenes. She was filming from one of the many butchers from across the street, wearing an apron with pieces of chicken glued on. That day felt like a dream, one I wanted to experience for myself someday.

Uncle Boss DJ Abass, a UK media consultant said to me, ‘Nigeria gives you some access’. I had worked briefly for him as an assistant for Nollywood events hosted in the UK. I also worked as an usher for films like Kunle Afolayan’s The CEO, Omoni Oboli’s First Lady and Funke Akindele’s Jenifa’s Diary, just to mention a few. Uncle Boss said ‘Film is bridging the gap between Nigeria and the world’ and I thought this to be true having experienced British Nigerian actors like Adesua Etomi, Beverly Naya and Diana Yekinni, who I spoke to before I travelled to Nigeria for my first on-screen film experience.

These experiences led me to my first on-screen film opportunity in Nigeria, connecting me to the very stories that had shaped my passion from childhood.

Let’s talk about your acting career and being in Nollywood. How has the journey been for you?

I have come a long way. I was curious when I got my first on-screen opportunity in 2016. I knew I had to live and work in Lagos just after the on-set experience. After graduating in 2018 and visiting Nigeria, my intention was to take headshots, write a play and put my showreel together. I did the first two and I’m currently putting my showreel together. My first two years in Lagos were challenging. I got to experience the backbreaking and sometimes never-ending hustle of living in Nigeria. I was miles away from my nuclear family and did feel lonely. However, I got to enjoy my favourite foods and culture. A win!

I involved myself and offered myself to script reads, personal assistant opportunities and attending live plays and premieres. I was committed to learning about the industry and our people. I loved that I was working at home, with people telling authentic African stories. I’m a free spirit, and my passions and focus brought like-minds my way. 

I am still on a journey of self-actualisation. I constantly want to become better than yesterday. My goal has always been ‘Nigeria to the world.’ Today, I like to think I’m on my way to becoming a Nigerian export for the world. A goal and a responsibility I’m working on gracefully. God gets the glory above all else.

You’re doing amazingly well, Genoveva. What is that on-set experience you cannot forget?

Haha, I can never forget the day I turned 21 and was acting a lead role on my first-ever set alongside Chimezie Imo and Stan Nze. We were filming in what I would describe as being ‘in the middle of nowhere’, a forest somewhere in Enugu state. It was 5 p.m. and I had spent the day filming. I felt disappointed that I didn’t get the day off. I thought I would hang out with some old friends since my plans to be shaking what my mama gave me on a yacht somewhere in Europe had changed, haha.

We shot an emotional scene where I was one of three friends, lost and in the middle of nowhere. I remember feeling the truth of the scene so much that I wailed like a toddler, even after the director had yelled cut. I was lost, 21 and definitely not celebrating.   

I learned that in my career, I may have to miss some important milestones and perhaps if I had just been a little more patient, I could have caught the massive surprise birthday party the producer and crew organised for me. I can’t help but smile every time I think about my 21st birthday.

Awwn, what’s a typical day like for you? 

Every day is different. On non-set days, I wake up around 5 a.m. but I do not hop right out of bed though, I lie around. I’ll look through my text, emails, DM or check my calendar to see what I’m doing that day because, to be honest, I usually don’t know what I’m doing. Then I would rush off to make my 5:25 a.m. morning run. When I’m back, I’d jump in the shower, and do my skin care routine which pretty much consists of me using a good cleanser, toner, hyperpigmentation serum, benzoyl peroxide face cream and sunscreen. Then I get dressed in a baggy shirt, comfy leggings or joggers and a hair scarf.  This much comfort makes me feel good. 

By 8 a.m., I’d read my daily devotional while having my morning tea, and pray. By 9 a.m., I would call my mum via Facetime; she is a senior nurse who lives and works in London. If she is on duty, we will catch up briefly but not before she asks me whether I caught Pastor Jerry Eze’s morning prayers (you can imagine how this conversation goes, haha). I also chat with my teen brother; he is on summer holiday so we chat about the books we are currently reading, wish each other well and start our day. At this point, I will journal. If not, I’d either check my preexisting to-do list or create one and work on it. 

By noon, my assistant would remind me to eat something, I’ve never been a breakfast person. I love breakfast food, just not at breakfast time. Between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., my schedule could range from prepping a self-tape, slowly getting my showreel together with an editor (God help me because I never finish) or planning or shooting a campaign for a brand I’m representing, all thanks to Isioma Osaje, social media team at NOIA Media for keeping me up. Anytime after 6 p.m., I’m ready for dinner.

By 9 p.m., my ritual before bed is washing my face and brushing my teeth. I’d take another shower because I don’t like to get into bed with the day on me. Although, sometimes, I fall asleep in my clothes. Some nights I stay up late and check the highlights of Big Brother Naija or watch a funny sitcom like ‘The Big Bang Theory’. 

We know Genoveva the actress, karate fighter, and fashion/style model, tell us who Genoveva is beyond our screens

My family and friends call me, K.K. or Kene.


K.K. is a princess.

Oh, cool

So, beyond the screens, I love to enjoy myself. I enjoy local foods like Okpa (Bambara nut), akara and pap, and any type of swallow and draw soups like ogbono and okro. I love to travel and spend time with friends and family. I love to watch films and a lot of shows. I love a good biography. I live inspired and to inspire. I’m always on the lookout for the next adventure.

An adventurous Gen? We love that! What are the little things in your everyday life that bring you joy, get you excited or make you feel alive?

I love a day off. I’m secretly a homebody! I love to hang out with myself and watch lots of YouTube. I watch self-development videos, a sermon or Actor on Actor interviews by Variety. I love a cold bottle of water or tiger nut on a hot day in Lagos. I love to watch my favourite films. They are musicals. From Sound of Music to Dream Girls to Hair Spray to High School Musical. I love ice cream. I’m your favourite passenger, lol. I love being pampered and taken care of. You can guess act of service is another of my love languages. I love texting or sending voice notes to my friends and family in the middle of the day. I love to deep-belly laugh when I get memes or shows my friends send to me. I love love. I love to hang out with people that I love and feel safe around. My comfort is my priority outside of work. Did I mention how much I love food? Haha, I’m sure I did.

We love this energy. One person you cannot wait to work with?

I would absolutely love to work with Viola Davis. I just finished her book ‘Finding Me’ and I think it’s one of the most profound, painfully truthful books I’ve ever read. I shed a tear or two on the plane reading a chapter because I saw my life reflected in her words. What a woman. I have a few others if you could allow me?

Go on, Genoveva. Mention them

Genevieve Nnaji, Jodie Comer (Killing Eve), Lashana Lynch, Michaela Cole, Thuso Mbedu, Lupita Nyong’0, Wunmi Mosaku and Sophie Okonedo. All incomparable actresses, I’d be honoured to work with them.

Your most awkward social interaction since you came into the limelight?

It’s maybe when an Uber driver said, “It’s great to meet you in person.” I’m not much of a talker on a ride so forgive me if I pretended to not have heard you, sir.

Describe your favourite movie character in 3 words and let us guess the answer 

A nun, a governess, Jovial?

Uhmmm? Okay, just tell us the character, haha

Maria from The Sound Of Music.

One word that describes Genoveva best?


Thank you for being on Doing Life With…, Genoveva

Thank you for having me.

Thank you to Genoveva Umeh for having this conversation with us and answering all our questions – and swiftly too, we must add.

Do you love this content, have any feedback for us or want to be a BellaNaija Features contributor? We’d love to read from you. Shoot us an email: [email protected]

Join us on Saturday for the next episode!

Star Features