Genevieve Nnaji is a Nigerian actress, singer, and model who is very well known in Nigeria across all states. She was born on the 3rd day of May in the year 1979. Genevieve Nnaji was born in Mbaise, Imo State, in South Eastern Nigeria. She is also a film producer, movie director, and a very active model.
She is known by Nigerians for her beautiful, top-notch acting skills and her good looks. Genevieve Nnaji is well known to every Nigerian both young and old and she is well respected in the acting industry especially in Nigeria’s Nollywood.
She is an alumni of the prestigious University of Lagos and she attended the Methodist Girl’s College at Yaba in Lagos state for her secondary school education. She has a Bachelor’s degree in creative arts from the University of Lagos. She started acting at a very young age in the year 1987, at the age of 8. We will still go in-depth into this. Genevieve Nnaji is definitely a household name to be reckoned with in Nigeria’s filmmaking industry.
Genevieve Nnaji’s Biography and Early Life
Genevieve Nnaji grew up in Lagos State although she was born in Mbaise in Imo State. She is the fourth child of eight children and her family was not a very rich one.
Her family belongs to that of the middle class. Genevieve’s father worked as an engineer while her mother worked as a nursery school teacher. Genevieve Nnaji as we have stated earlier, schooled in Lagos State for both her secondary and tertiary education. It was while she was in the University of Lagos studying Creative Arts that she started auditioning for acting in Nollywood.
While she was still very young at the tender age of 17, Genevieve got pregnant. She told sources that she did not even know that she was pregnant until her mum noticed that her body physiology had changed. She had a baby girl and the baby was named Chimebuka. Chimebuka lived with her grandmother who is Genevieve’s mother so that Genevieve could continue to concentrate on her schooling.
She started acting at the tender age of 8 when she appeared in a TV show called “Ripples” and she also did lots of advertisement acting for different brands starting at a young age. Despite the early pregnancy and the stigma she suffered from it, Genevieve Nnaji still managed to pull through her early years very well and this is very commendable.
Genevieve Nnaji’s Acting Career
Besides acting in commercials, she started acting fully at the age of 19. She got her first big major acting role in 1998 for the movie titled “Most Wanted”.
Like we have stated earlier, this was at the age of 19. After that, she also subsequently starred in “Sharon Stone” a movie released in 2002. This movie was what shot her to prominent glory as she became very popular after acting the movie. Her fame spread through all of Nigeria and indeed Africa.
People all over Africa and even in some European countries came to know her and acknowledge her as a true gift to the Nollywood acting industry. After that, she also acted in other movies like Mark of the Beast, Ijele, Last Party and so on.
In 2010, she acted in the movie “Ije”, meaning The Journey, which is an award winning movie which helped her to gain even more fame. Ije is a movie released in 2010 that Genevieve Nnaji also starred in. This movie was directed by Chinese Anyaene and produced by Paula Moreno and Chineze Anyaene.
Omotola Jalade Ekeinde also stars in this movie. It was released both in the US and in Nigeria and the movie really hit. The plot of the movie is about a lady named Chioma who travels over to the United States to help her sister Anya who has been charged with the murder of three men. Genevieve Nnaji plays Chioma in this movie while Anya is played by Omotola Jalade Ekeinde.
Since then, Genevieve Nnaji has starred in over 80 Nollywood movies and is still counting. She is thought to be one of the best paid actresses in Nollywood and is truly one of the most popular actresses in Africa due to her immense contributions to the growth and popularity of the Nollywood movie industry. She was the first ever actress to be awarded Best Actress at the 2001 City People’s Awards, which normally before that time never acknowledged actors and actresses. She is indeed a blessing to Nollywood obviously and a record breaker.
It is also worth mentioning that she is the first Nigerian Actress to be profiled on the popular American TV show, The Oprah Winfrey TV show. In a particular episode of it in 2009, she was referred to as the Julia Roberts of Africa. This goes very well in history books because prior to that, no Nigerian actor had ever been profiled on the show. This shows that she was indeed a force to reckon with. She has also appeared in various International magazines about great women in the world in which she has been featured.
Genevieve Nnaji is believed to be one of the richest and the most influential actors in Nigeria and she rightly deserves this. Recently in October 2018, Genevieve Nnaji signed a film deal with a United States Agency called United Talent Agency. This agency represents one of the biggest and world’s most celebrated people. UTA represents some of Hollywood’s biggest stars like Liv Tyler, Angelina Jolie and so on. This is indeed another remarkable feat for Genevieve Nnaji.
About Lion Heart by Genevieve Nnaji.
Also in 2018, her movie Lion Heart broke Nigerian records by being acquired by Netflix which is the world’s largest online movie streaming service. Very few movies that are not American make it to Netflix since Netflix is an American service. But Lion Heart being a work and product of the Nigerian Nollywood industry made it to Netflix! This is indeed a giant stride for Genevieve.
She shared the good news on her social media platforms encouraging her fans to go watch the new movie. Netflix has a huge audience in the online community of over 117.6 million subscribers of movie contents. The movie was bought by Netflix to stream on the network. Although, Lion Heart is not the first Nigerian movie to be streamed on the American streaming platform. There are other movies streaming on Netflix that are of Nollywood like The Wedding Party, Road To Yesterday (a film which Genevieve Nnaji herself produced), Fifty and so on.
When Netflix wants to own a movie and have exclusive rights to it, a lot of money is paid by Netflix to the movie producers. Since Lion Heart has been acquired and bought by Netflix, it could have been bought for over 3 million dollars to own exclusive rights to the movie! Lion Heart has not only brought more fame to Genevieve Nnaji, but it has also brought her more wealth. Lion Heart has notable Nollywood actors that starred in it such as Pete Edochie, Nkem Owoh, Onyeka Onwenu, Peter Okoye, Dika Ofoma, and so on.
Genevieve Nnaji said that they had to fund the movie by themselves because sourcing for funds for a movie production in Nigeria was an Herculean task. The movie Lion Heart is currently rated a whooping 9.2 out of 10 Stars on IMDb, a top movie review website.
Lionheart as we stated earlier, is already a Netflix Original. It is the first Netflix Original film from Nigeria although there are several films that are Nigerian on Netflix, Lionheart is an ORIGINAL.
This movie is Genevieve’s directorial debut and is also the first film that Peter Okoye of the Psquare band would act in. This movie is one of the Comedy genre and is intended to make the audience laugh. Lionheart tells the story of Adaeze Obiagu (who is played by Genevieve Nnaji), who is the daughter of Ernest Obiagu (played by Pete Edochie) as she battles to save her father’s company along with the help of a man called Chief Godswill (played by Nkem Owoh) from its large amount of debt and also to save the company from being lost to Igwe Pascal (played by Kanayo O. Kanayo).
Genevieve Nnaji also acted in Half of a Yellow Sun
She has also starred in Half of a Yellow Sun, a movie based on the book written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on the fictional story of the Biafra or Nigerian Civil War that lasted for three years between the years 1967 to 1970.
This movie is based on the fictional story and historical story written by renowned writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This movie was directed by Biyi Bandele and it was released in 2013 in Canada and in 2014 in the UK, Lagos and Nigeria. It stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Genevieve Nnaji, John Boyega and so on.
The plot of movie centers around Nigerian history from October 1960 of the Independence day to 1970 the year the Nigerian Civil War ended. It is about two sisters Olanna and Kainene and how their life gets tumultous when they return to Nigeria from the UK.
She starred in Road To Yesterday
Apart from that, she has also starred in Road To Yesterday, a movie released in 2015 which is the first movie she produced. Road To Yesterday is a movie directed by Ishaya Bako and was a top and high-quality movie that Genevieve Nnaji both starred in, and produced. The movie starred actors like Majid Michel, Oris Erhuero, Chioma omeruah and so on.
Road To Yesterday won award for the Best Movie Overall West Africa at Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards in 2016. This movie directed by Ishaya Bako stars Genevieve Nnaji and Oris Erhuero in major roles. Genevieve Nnaji co-produced this movie with Chi-Chi Nwoko and Chinny Onwuegbu. It was released in 2015.
The plot of the film is about a couple who are looking to mend their falling apart marriage through a road trip to a relative’s funeral. It was also rumoured once that Genevieve Nnaji would be taking up a role in the Marvel’s Avengers Infinity War.
But this was later confirmed to be false news as Genevieve Nnaji did not appear in the movie. It is worth noting that the movie Lion Heart premiered at the TIFF that is, Toronto International Film Festival in Canada in 2018 and has had such high rating by viewers. Genevieve Nnaji has indeed left a mark in Nollywood.
Movies by Genevieve Nnaji
Other movies that Genevieve Nnaji has acted in and is known for include; Blood Sister (which she acted in alongside movie star Omotola Jalade Ekeinde), Mirror Boy, Games Women Play, Bursting Out, Doctor Bello, Letters To A Stranger, Ije, Above Death, Weekend Getaway, Broken Tears, Silent Scandals, Farming, 30 days, My Idol, Beautiful Soul, Tango With Me, Caught In The Act, Love My Way, To Love and Cherish, Emerald, One Love, A Piece of Flesh, The Chosen One, Lion Heart, Butterfly, Dangerous Sisters and so on. Genevieve Nnaji has acted in so many other movies apart from the ones listed above. Some movies like Blood Sister dates back to 2003. Some of the movies she has starred in are very old but they are all worth the watch.
Genevieve Nnaji’s Modeling
Genevieve Nnaji has also ventured into modelling as a career. She has been featured in several adverts and commercials for companies like that of Omo Detergent. She also featured in an advertisement for Pronto Beverages in which she was the model used that year.
She has also been used as the “Face of Lux Soap” and this was in 2004 shortly after she had reached stardom. She reportedly earned N20 million naira from the deal. In 2010, she was the official face of MUD Nigeria, a Nigerian make-up school and make-up line in which she was the model used.
Her modelling career is one that is lucrative but not as lucrative as her acting career, we must say. Also, part of modelling career, Genevieve Nnaji featured in Dbanj’s hit song video, “Fall in Love”, where she acted as the model who Dbanj was in love with. Although, a lot of rumours went around that they were dating due to this video.
Genevieve Nnaji has also been the brand ambassador and face of the global motor company, Rang Rovers SUV, this was in the year 2012. She was the face of Range Rovers SUV for that year and got a huge pay from it. This was indeed a big hit for her modelling career as it took her global.
She was said to earn over N40 million naira from the contract with the motor Company. Being the face of several companies has indeed been part of the reason why Genevieve Nnaji is a multi-millionaire today. It is evident that modelling has definitely paid her very well. To be the face of top companies is not an easy feat. But Genevieve has shown as that succeeding in both acting as well as modelling is an achievable goal.
Awards and Nominations
Genevieve Nnaji has been nominated and has won several awards for her works and contributions to Nollywood. Many of them are Nigerian awards and some are international. All of these go to show that Iron Lady, Genevieve Nnaji is one to be emulated. We will be lifting some of her awards and Nominations below;
1. She has been nominated for the Grolsch People’s Choice Award in 2018 for the movie Lion Heart which she just released in September 2018. We still await the results to know if she will win the award or not. We really hope she does.
2. Genevieve Nnaji won the Best Actress of the Year Award at the 2001 City People’s Awards at a time when actor and actresses had never been awarded before at the event. She was the first actor or actress to buy the award.
3. Genevieve Nnaji also won the Best Actress in a leading Role award at the Africa Movie Academy Awards in 2005.
4. For the movie, Road To Yesterday, she won the Best Movie in West Africa in 2016 in which she produced the movie.
5. In 2005, she won the Best Actress in leading role for “30 days” a movie which she starred in as the lead role.
6. Also, she was nominated for the Best Actress in leading Role in the year 2011 for the movie, Tango with Me at the Africa Movie Academy Awards.
7. At the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards, she was nominated for the Best Actress Drama/TV series for her work in the Mirror Boy in 2013 but she was unable to take it home.
8. At the Nigeria Entertainment Awards, she won the Best Actress in TV series for the work she put into “Guinness Ultimate Survivor” in 2010.
9. Genevieve Nnaji also won the Best Actress in a Supporting role for the movie, Half of A Yellow Sun in the year 2014 at the Nigeria Entertainment Awards as well.
10. In 2010, Genevieve Nnaji was nominated and subsequently won the award for the Best Actress Africa collaboration for the movie Silent Scandals at the Ghana Movie Awards.
We will only be listing ten of her awards and nominations here. To find out more about the full list of awards and nominations she has, visit her Wikipedia page.
She has won so many awards for her great works and we have to say that, she rightly deserves these awards, nominations and recognitions. Genevieve Nnaji has indeed added a lot of value to the acting world in Nigeria. Nollywood has the great privilege of having such a huge talent in the industry.
Other things To note About Genevieve Nnaji
1. It was once rumoured that Genevieve Nnaji and famous Nigerian hip hop musician Dbanj were dating and were going to get married. This has long proven to be untrue of course, as Dbanj is currently married to someone else.
2. In a video where she acted in with Dbanj, they exchanged kisses, all these contributed to the big rumours that they were in a serious relationship. He also stated in an interview in 2013 when he was still married, that he really wanted to marry Genevieve Nnaji because he thought she was a big treasure. But destiny had it planned differently for them.
3. In 2018, Genevieve Nnaji affirmed her support for the Feminism movement and was known to say she is a “Proud Feminist”. She said she believes Women should own their stories and stand up for themselves.
This is in contrast to some popular female Nigerian celebrities like Tiwa Savage who said she was not in support of Feminism movement. It is not surprising since Genevieve Nnaji has been the embodiment of a strong woman.
4. Genevieve’s daughter, Chimebuka has recently gotten married to the love of her life in 2016. She completed her NYSC in 2013 and is a make-up artist that deals in makeup for many Nigerian celebrities. It was gathered that in 2016, she had her introduction ceremony in Mbaise, Imo state. A lot is not known about Genevieve’s daughter as she likes to keep her private life secret.
Genevieve Nnaji has inspired so many other young people especially females in Nigeria to reach for the stars. We look at where she’s come from, what she’s been through and where she is today. She has had tremendous amount of effect and influence on the Nigerian populace and on Nollywood.
So many other women in the Nigerian Nollywood industry were inspired into acting because of Genevieve Nnaji. She is a mentor to a whole lot of people in the Nigerian acting industry and a lot of people respect her.
Genevieve Nnaji is a woman that shows the definition of strength and determination. She teaches us to aim at our goals and go get them. Whether girl or boy, Genevieve Nnaji’s strory touches every heart. She deserves our respect.