How Nollywood star actress built her empire

Genevieve Nnaji

Genevieve Nnaji – often referred to as the Julia Roberts of Africa – has successfully captured the hearts of Nigerians and Africans across the world. Even more, she is gradually worming her way into Hollywood.

Genevieve was born on the 3rd of May, 1979 in Mbaise, Imo State, Nigeria. She was the fourth of eight children and was brought up in a middle class environment. Nnaji attended the Methodist Girls College (Yaba, Lagos), before transferring into the University of Lagos. While at the university, she began auditioning for acting jobs amongst the many Nollywood projects.

Genevieve Nnaji started acting from the age of 8 in the then popular television soap opera Ripples. However, she was reintroduced into the growing Nigerian film industry at 19 with the supporting role in the movie “Most Wanted”. She soon became a reoccurring image amongst other Nollywood artistes in movies like Party, Ijele, The Journey, and many more. She has since appeared in over 90 movies and a number of comedy skits.

Genevieve shot to stardom across the globe when she featured in screen buster ‘Sharon Stone’ in 2002. She also appeared in Maria Claire Magazine alongside Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez, Paris Hilton, Jennifer Aniston, and Catherine Zeta-Jones in an article about who is the most beautiful woman in your world, in which she came fourth.

Read Also: Genevieve Nnaji Signs Deal with US Agency for Film, TV Production

In its 20 years of publishing, News/Politics magazine TELL has never put a Nigerian entertainer on its cover until Genevieve Nnaji graced one of its June 2011 editions. Genevieve was ranked number 19 in Forbes “40 Most Powerful Celebrities in Africa” 2011. In 2004, she signed a recording contract with EKB Records – a Ghanaian record label – and released her debut album “One Logologo Line”, which is a blended mix of R&B, Hip-Hop and Urban music.

Aside from this, Genevieve continues to make remarkable strides as a trailblazer in the movie industry. In 2009, media mogul, Oprah Winfrey described Genevieve Nnaji as the Julia Roberts of Africa. In November 2015, she went on to produce her first movie titled “Road to Yesterday” and the movie won Best Movie Overall-West Africa at the 2016 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards.

Making even more commendable progress was when she went on to become Nollywood’s first billionaire after Netflix bought her directorial debut movie – Lionheart – on September 7, 2018 . The acquisition of Lionheart for N1, 385, 100,000($3.8million) by the online streaming service is a historic move as it makes it the first Netflix original movie from Nigeria. The movie had its world premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.

Genevieve is no doubt a trailblazer and Nollywood icon who should be treated as such!