Genevieve Nnaji

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Genevieve Nnaji

Genevieve Nnaji in Weekend Getaway.png
Genevieve Nnaji in Weekend Getaway
Born (1979-05-03) 3 May 1979 (age 43)
Mbaise, Imo, Nigeria
Alma materUniversity of Lagos
OccupationActor, director
Years active1987–present

Genevieve Nnaji// (listen) (/ˈnɑːi/;[1] born on 3 May 1979)[2] is a Nigerian actress, producer, and director.[3][4][5] She won the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role in 2005, making her the first actor to win the award.[6][7][8] In 2011, she was honoured as a Member of the Order of the Federal Republic by the Nigerian government for her contributions to Nollywood.[9] Her directorial debut movie, Lionheart, is the first Netflix film from Nigeria and the first Nigerian submission for the Oscars. The movie was disqualified for having most of its dialogue in English.[10][11] After having spent decades in the movie industry, she was profiled alongside some celebrities and business executives in 2020 in two new books by publisher and Editor in Chief of Yes International! magazine, Azuh Arinze.[12]

Early life[edit]

Genevieve was born in Mbaise, Imo State, Nigeria, and grew up in Lagos. The fourth of eight children, she was raised in a middle-class family; her father worked as an engineer and her mother was a nursery school teacher.[13]


She attended Methodist Girls College (Yaba, Lagos), before proceeding to the University of Lagos, where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in creative arts. While at the university, she began auditioning for acting jobs in Nollywood.[8]


Nnaji started her acting career as a child actor in the then-popular television soap opera Ripples at the age of 8.[14] In 1998, at the age of 19, she was introduced into the growing Nigerian film industry with the movie Most Wanted.[15] Her subsequent movies include Last Party, Mark of the Beast, and Ijele.[14] In 2010, she starred in the award-winning film Ijé: The Journey. She has starred in over 200 Nollywood movies.[16]

In 2004, Nnaji signed a recording contract with EKB Records; a Ghanaian record label, and released her debut album One Logologo Line.[17] It is a mix of R&B, Hip-Hop, and Urban music.[18] In 2004, Genevieve Nnaji was with the most votes after contending with other celebrities for the search for the face of Lux in 2004.[19]

In 2005, she won the Africa Movie Academy Award (AMAA) for Best Actress in a Leading Role, becoming the first actor to win the award.[20]

Genevieve at an event in 2009

As of 2009, Nnaji was one of the best-paid female actors in Nollywood.[21][22] Due to her contributions to the Nigerian movie industry, she became the first actor to be awarded Best Actress at the 2001 City Peoples Awards, the award ceremony that previously had only recognized politicians and business conglomerates. She was also the first actor to be awarded as Best Actress by the Censors Board of Nigeria in 2003.[23] In 2009, she was referred to as the Julia Roberts of Africa by Oprah Winfrey.[24][25]

In November 2015, Nnaji produced her first movie called Road to Yesterday,[26] later winning Best Movie Overall-West Africa at the 2016 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards.

In January 2018, it was reported that Genevieve would be replacing Funke Akindele as a member of the Dora Milaje in Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War.[27] This was later debunked as an internet prank and the actor did not appear in the movie.[28]

On 7 September 2018, her directorial debut Lionheart was acquired by online streaming service Netflix, making it the first Netflix original film from Nigeria.[29] The movie had its world premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, alongside Farming, the Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's autobiographical directorial debut where she starred in alongside Kate Beckinsale, Damson Idris, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

On May 6, 2021, Genevieve Nnaji was featured in a skit by Ofego titled "Say It And Quench" on his YouTube channel.

Genevieve Nnaji is also a women's activist. She advocates for Nigerian girls to be able to have a say in who they choose to marry. She is against early marriages for the girl child. She is strongly against the abuse of women in society.[30][31] Genevieve says she is a strong advocate for social justice.[32] Further, Genevieve Nnaji is a strong feminist. She states her type of feminism is the woman who has the right to make her own choices and do whatever she feels like.[33]


Genevieve as a Model
Genevieve in a Model's pose

Nnaji has featured in several commercials, including for Pronto (beverage) and Omo detergent. In 2004, she became the "Face of Lux" in Nigeria[34] in a highly lucrative sponsorship deal.[8] In 2008, Nnaji launched the clothing line "St. Genevieve", which donates its proceeds to charity.[7][35] In May 2010, she was appointed to be the official "Face of MUD" in Nigeria.[36][37][38][39][40]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Nnaji has received several awards and nominations for her work, including the Best Actress of the Year Award at the 2001 City People Awards and the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award at the 2005 Africa Movie Academy Awards.[6][8]

In 2019, her movie, Lionheart, was selected by the Nigerian Oscars Selection Committee (NOSC), as Nigeria's submission to the Best International Feature Film Category of the 2020 Oscars. It was the first film ever submitted to the Oscars by Nigeria.[41]

Subsequently, the oscar submission was cancelled for not meeting the language criteria. The film's dialogue track is predominantly in the English language. However, the Oscar rules since 2006 dictate that eligible movies must have a "Predominantly non-English dialogue track." This move was an attempt to open up more opportunities for films from diverse cultures.

In a viral tweet on 4 November 2019, the Award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay, had questioned the Academy's decision on nixing Lionheart Oscar race for using its official language — English. Nnaji, in response to Ava DuVernay's Tweet, took to Twitter to explain that the country Nigeria as presently constituted, does boast of over 500 languages, making it so ethnically diverse than English, as the official language, can only be the language utilized to make the movie widely acceptable to the eclectic audience across the country, and even beyond the continent of Africa.

In an article published by Culture writer and multiculturalism scholar- Kovie Biakolo titled Nigeria's Lion Heart Disqualification is Bigger than the Oscars on the CNN opinion website; Kovie opined that "one cannot help but feel that Nigeria is ultimately being penalized for being a former British colony in using the very language that was imposed on its people, to communicate between them, and especially for art. Former French, Spanish and Portuguese colonies certainly don't have this problem. And in truth, the Academy may be demonstrating a short-sighted or surface-level understanding of its purported inclusivity in this category".[42]

She went further to criticize the Oscar board for allowing the nominations of British movies that were not done in English, which invariably is the Country's main language but did so in the case of Nigeria whose cultural diversity could be confounding yet true.

92nd Academy Awards (Oscars)[edit]


Year Nominee / work Award Result
2020 Genevieve Nnaji / LionHeart Best International Feature Film Disqualified

The 19th Black Reel Awards (FAAAF)][edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2019 Lionheart Outstanding Foreign Film / World Cinema Motion Picture[43] Won

Toronto International Film Festival[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2018 Lionheart Grolsch People's Choice Award Nominated

Africa Movie Academy Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2005 Best Actress in Leading Role Won
2008 30 Days/Keep My Will Nominated
2011 Tango with Me Nominated

Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2013 The Mirror Boy Best Actress Drama/TV Series Nominated
2016 Road to Yesterday Nominated
Best Movie West Africa Won

Nigeria Entertainment Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2009 Best Actress Nominated
2010 Silent Scandals Best Actress Film/Short Story Nominated
Guinness Ultimate Survivor Best Actress TV Series Won
2011 Tango with Me Best Actress Film/Short Story Nominated
2013 Doctor Bello Best Actress in Leading Role Nominated
2014 Half of a Yellow Sun Best Actress in Supporting Role Won
2016 Road to Yesterday Lead Actress in Film Nominated
Best Picture Nominated

Nollywood Movies Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2012 Tango with Me Best Actress Leading Role Nominated
Herself Viewers Choice- Female Won

Ghana Movie Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2010 Silent Scandals Best Actress-Africa Collaboration Won

Golden Icons Academy Movie Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2012 Herself Best Actress- Viewers Choice Nominated

Nollywood and African Film Critics Awards (NAFCA)[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2013 Weekend Getaway Best Actress Leading Role Won

Zulu African Film Academy Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2011 The Mirror Boy Best Actress Won

City People Entertainment Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2001 Herself Best Actress Won

Best of Nollywood Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2010 Silent Scandals Best Actress-Leading Role Nominated
2011 The Mirror Boy Nominated
Bursting Out Best Kiss with Majid Michel Won


Year Film Role Notes
1987 Ripples
1998 Most Wanted with Williams Cajethan
1999 Camouflage with Ramsey Nouah
2001 Love Boat with Ramsey Nouah
Death Warrant Anita with Emeka Ike & Eucharia-Anunobi Ekwu
2002 Valentino with Ramsey Nouah
Fire Dancer Nene
Sharon Stone Sharon Stone
Runs! Adesua with Gorgina Onuoha
Power of Love Juliet with Ramsey Nouah, Grace Amah
Formidable Force with Gorgina Onuoha & Hanks Anuku
Battle Line with Ramsey Nouah & Pete Edochie
2003 Above Death: In God We Trust with Pete Edochie, Kate Henshaw-Nuttal, Ramsey Nouah, & Zack Orji
Blood Sister with Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde & Tony Umez
Break Up with Ramsey Nouah
Butterfly with Ramsey Nouah
By His Grace with Tony Umez
Church Business with Ramsey Nouah & Segun Arinze
Deadly Mistake
Emergency Wedding with Tony Umez
Emotional Tears Helen
For Better for Worse
Honey with Ramsey Nouah & Pete Edochie
Jealous Lovers Chioma
Keeping Faith: Is That Love? with Richard Mofe-Damijo
Last Weekend with Ramsey Nouah
Late Marriage
Love Anita with Richard Mofe-Damijo & Segun Arinze
My Only Love Angela with Ramsey Nouah
Not Man Enough
Passion & Pain with Ramsey Nouah & Desmond Elliot
Passions with Stella Damasus-Aboderin & Richard Mofe-Damijo
Player: Mr. Lover Man
Private Sin Faith with Stephanie Okereke, Richard Mofe-Damijo, & Patience Ozokwor
Sharon Stone in Abuja Sharon Stone
Super Love with Ramsey Nouah & Pete Edochie
The Chosen One
Women Affair
2004 Bumper to Bumper with Georgina Onuoha
Critical Decision with Richard Mofe-Damijo, Stephanie Okereke, & Mike Ezuruonye
Dangerous Sister with Tony Umez & Dakore Egbuson
Goodbye New York with Rita Dominic
He Lives in Me
Into Temptation with Ramsey Nouah
My First Love with Tony Umez
Never Die for Love
Promise Me Forever with Stephanie Okereke
Stand by Me
Unbreakable with Ramsey Nouah
We Are One with Stella Damasus-Aboderin
2005 Darkest Night with Richard Mofe-Damijo & Segun Arinze
Games Women Play with Stella Damasus-Aboderin, Desmond Elliot, & Zack Orji
Rip-Off with Ramsey Nouah
2006 Girls Cot with Rita Dominic & Ini Edo
30 Days Chinora Onu with Segun Arinze – this film received 10 nominations at the African Movie Academy Awards in 2008,
including Best Picture, Best Art Direction, Best Screenplay, Best Edit, Best Costumes, and Best Sound[44]
2007 Letters to a Stranger Jemima Lawal with Yemi Blaq, Joke Silva, and Segun Arinze
Keep My Will
Warrior's Heart
Unfinished Business Nkem
Winds of Glory Juliana
2008 Beautiful Soul Olivia this film received 3 African Movie Academy Award nominations for Best Screenplay,
Best Soundtrack, and Heart of Africa[45]
Broken Tears with Van Vicker, Kate Henshaw-Nuttal and Grace Amah
Critical Condition Ify
River of Tears Yvonne with Kate Henshaw-Nuttal, Van Vicker, and Grace Amah
My Idol
Love My Way Kayla
2009 Silent Scandals Jessie with Majid Michel & Uche Jombo[46]
Felicima Felicima with Alex Lopez[47]
2010 Ijé: The Journey Chioma Opara with Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, Odalys García, & Clem Ohameze[48]
Tango with me Lola with Joke Silva & Joseph Benjamin
Bursting Out Zara Williams with Majid Michel, Nse Ikpe-Etim, Omoni Oboli, & Desmond Elliot[49][50]
Mirror Boy Teema with Osita Iheme[51]
2011 Sacred Lies Isabella with Olu Jacobs, Desmond Elliot, & Nadia Buari[52]
2012 Weekend Getaway with Ramsey Noah, Ini Edo, Monalisa Chinda
2013 Half of a Yellow Sun Ms. Adebayo with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Onyeka Onwenu, and OC Ukeje
Doctor Bello with Isaiah Washington, Vivica A. Fox, Justus Esiri, and Stephanie Okereke
2014 The Truth with Olisa Guest TV Series
2015 Road to Yesterday Victoria with Oris Erhuero and Majid Michel
2018 Lionheart Adaeze Also the Director and Writer
Farming Tolu Supporting Actress


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pedro Pinto from CNN's 'African Voices' pronouncing Nnaji's name at 00:31 into the video". CNN. 29 March 2011. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  2. ^ "Nollywood's finest". New Vision. Kampala, Uganda: New Vision Printing & Publishing Company Limited. 1 May 2005. Archived from the original on 1 October 2011. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
  3. ^ Orjinmo, Nduka (17 November 2019). "From Nollywood to Netflix: Genevieve Nnaji's rise". BBC News.
  4. ^ "Star Actress Genevieve Nnaji Reveals Success Secrets". Leadership. Abuja, Nigeria. 8 December 2011. Archived from the original on 21 January 2012. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
  5. ^ "Nigeria actress Genevieve ready to visit Zambia". Zambian Watchdog. 21 November 2011. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
  6. ^ a b Clayton, Jonathan (3 April 2010). "Nollywood success puts Nigeria's film industry in regional spotlight". The Times Online. London, UK: Times Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  7. ^ a b Ezenna, Uchenna. "Elan Personality: Genevieve Nnaji". Lagos, Nigeria: Timbuktu Media. Archived from the original on 7 June 2013. Retrieved 6 August 2010.
  8. ^ a b c d "Africa's Most Famous Movie Star?". Kent, UK: Newstime Africa. 21 August 2009. Archived from the original on 2 May 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
  9. ^ "6 Nollywood Stars Receive Nigerian National Honours". Archived from the original on 7 October 2014. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  10. ^ "Genevieve Nnaji's Lionheart disqualified from Oscars". Graphic Online. 5 November 2019. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  11. ^ "Nigeria Oscar choice ruled out for English script". BBC News. 5 November 2019.
  12. ^ "Omotola, Genevieve profiled in new books on leadership, success". Vanguard News. 4 July 2020. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  13. ^ "Genevieve Nnaji – Bio, Daughter, Age, Married, Husband, Net Worth". BuzzNigeria - Famous People, Celebrity Bios, Updates and Trendy News. 5 October 2015. Retrieved 23 March 2021.
  14. ^ a b "MIMI Lifestyle Magazine, February 2006: Interview with Genevieve Nnaji". Archived from the original on 13 November 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
  15. ^ "Future Connector: Genevieve Nnaji". CNN International. Atlanta, GA, USA: Turner Broadcasting System. 27 October 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
  16. ^ Elliot, Desmond (29 October 2013), Weekend Getaway, Royal Arts Academy, retrieved 19 May 2021
  17. ^ "Genevieve at Blue Pie Productions". Archived from the original on 24 May 2012. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
  18. ^ "Genevieve: One Logologo Line". Archived from the original on 3 December 2008. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
  19. ^ Daramola, Darw (2005). "Face of Lux -Genevieve earns N20m". Online Nigeria.
  20. ^ Polycarp, Nwafor (2 January 2019). "Genevieve Nnaji marks 20 years in Nollywood". Vanguard News Nigeria. Vanguard Media Limited, Nigeria. Vanguard Media Limited, Nigeria. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  21. ^ Mignot, Elisa (25 December 2009). "Lagos, capitale de Nollywood". Le Monde (in French). Paris, France: Éric Fottorino. p. 16. Retrieved 29 August 2010. L'actrice la mieux payée du Nigeria, Genevieve Nnaji, est la vedette de Tango with me.
  22. ^ "Best Paid Nollywood Actresses Revealed". Retrieved 19 October 2009.
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Genevieve Nnaji: Is She The 'Julia Roberts' of Africa?". 14 February 2013. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  25. ^ "Genevieve Nnaji featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show". 29 September 2009. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  26. ^ "Genevieve Nnaji is Back! Get the Exclusive Scoop on her New Movie 'Road to Yesterday' & Watch the Teaser Trailer". 29 September 2015. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  27. ^ ""Avengers: Infinity War" Role! Funke Akindele's Name Removed, Replaced With Genevieve Nnaji -". Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  28. ^ Avengers: Infinity War (2018), retrieved 22 November 2018
  29. ^ "Netflix Acquires Worldwide Rights To Genevieve Nnaji's 'Lionheart' • Channels Television". Channels Television. 8 September 2018. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  30. ^ UNICEF Innocenti (2014). "Nollywood star Genevieve Nnaji advocates for girls rights". YouTube.
  31. ^ "Nollywood Star Genevieve Nnaji Advocates for Girls Rights". UNICEF.
  32. ^ "I am a strong advocate of social justice - Genevieve Nnaji". MyJoyOnline. 2015. Archived from the original on 5 December 2015. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  33. ^ "Genevieve Nnaji explains her kind of feminism". MyJoyOnline. 2019.
  34. ^ "Genevieve Nnaji & Lux advertisement". London, UK: Unilever PLC. Archived from the original on 25 June 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2010.
  35. ^ Wehwe, Vivien. "Charity Runway; celebrities rise up for orphans". The Vanguard. Lagos, Nigeria: Vanguard Media. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
  36. ^ "MUD, Bellezza Cosmetics and Spa, and Genevieve Nnaji=One beautiful collaboration!". Burbank, CA, USA: Make-up Designory. 22 July 2010. Archived from the original on 7 May 2011. Retrieved 29 August 2010.
  37. ^ "Genevieve Nnaji is Face of New Make Up Line". AllAfrica Global Media. 21 May 2010. Retrieved 29 August 2010.
  38. ^ Onyebukwa, Vivian (29 May 2010). "MUD Cosmetics berths in Nigeria". Daily Sun. Lagos, Nigeria: The Sun Publishing Limited. Retrieved 29 August 2010.[1]
  39. ^ Falode, Kehinde (13 June 2010). "Make-Up Designory (MUD) debuts in Nigeria". The Nation. Lagos, Nigeria: Vintage Press Limited. Archived from the original on 16 June 2010. Retrieved 29 August 2010.
  40. ^ Onyema, Ada (5 June 2010). "Genevive becomes face of MUD". The Punch. Lagos, Nigeria. Archived from the original on 2 October 2011. Retrieved 29 August 2010.
  41. ^ a b Dalton, Ben; Kiely, Emma; Epton, Nancy (9 October 2019). "In profile: the 92 international feature Oscar 2020 contenders". Screen. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  42. ^ Biakolo, Opinion by Kovie (6 November 2019). "Nigeria's Lionheart disqualification is bigger than the Oscars". CNN. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  43. ^ "BRAs Winners". Black Reel Awards. 21 February 2016. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  44. ^ "List of Nominees for AMAA 2008". Archived from the original on 8 February 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2009.
  45. ^ "AMAA Nominees and Winners 2009". African Movie Academy Award. Archived from the original on 5 April 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
  46. ^ "Silent Scandals hits movie shelves soon". Vintage Press Limited. Archived from the original on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 21 January 2010.
  47. ^ "Felicima: The cripple who loves Genevieve". Archived from the original on 10 June 2015. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  48. ^ "Odalys García's first feature film: Ijé -The Journey". Retrieved 19 November 2009.
  49. ^ Olukole, Tope (7 August 2010). "Nadia Bouari Visits Nigeria". Nigerian Tribune. Ibadan, Nigeria. Archived from the original on 14 March 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2011.
  50. ^ "Genevieve, Majid Michale sparkle in Bursting Out". Vanguard. Lagos, Nigeria: Vanguard Media. 23 April 2010. Retrieved 23 July 2011.
  51. ^ "Richest Nollywood Actresses". AllAfrica Global Media. 26 September 2010. Retrieved 10 January 2011.
  52. ^ Adedayo, Odulaja (11 March 2011). "Nigeria: Plate of Sacred Lies Dotted Only by Star Factor". AllAfrica Global Media. Retrieved 23 July 2011.

External links[edit]