When you think about popular Nigerian actors and actresses, one of the names at the top of the list is Genevieve Nnaji. Her roles range from the then-popular television soap opera Ripples at the age of 8 to top Nigerian and African Movies today.

She is popularly known as the Julia Roberts of Africa. Genevieve Nnaji is an actress, businesswoman, women's rights activist, producer, musician, and director. She has achieved a lot in the Nollywood industry and is also recognised globally as one of the best African actresses today.

She has been regarded as the highest-paid actress in Nigeria at a point in her career and she has been in the industry for over two decades.

In 2009, Genevieve Nnaji made history by being the first Nigerian actress to be profiled on The Oprah Winfrey Show on an episode about the most popular people in the world. This African celebrity has many more accomplishments that you will get to learn about below.

So let us get to know this beautiful and versatile Nigerian actress.

The Julia Roberts of Africa
She was named the Julia Roberts of Africa by Oprah Winfrey. Source: IROKO TV
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Genevive Nnaji: How It All Began

Origin

Genevieve was born May 3rd, 1979 (currently age 42). She was born in Mbaise, Imo State in the south-eastern part of Nigeria. She had a catholic upbringing, grew up in Yaba, Lagos State and was the fourth child out of eight children.

Her father Theophilus Nnaji, worked as an engineer in Lagos state, while her mother, Bernadette Nnaji was a nursery school teacher in Lagos state.

Education

She has a bachelor degree in creative arts from the University of Lagos popularly known as UNILAG. For her secondary school education, she attended Methodist Girls College before she went ahead to study creative arts at the university. It was while she was at the university that she began auditioning for acting jobs in Nollywood.

Early Career

She started auditioning and scouting for roles while she was a student at the university. However, before then, she appeared in a Nigerian Tv soap Opera titled ripples at the early age of 8 years old and the series ran from 1988-1994.

She also appeared in some television commercials as a child before leaving the television industry to focus on her education.

Her first role as an adult actress was at the age of 19 in the film most wanted which she got while scouting for jobs during her university education. She did not get her fame immediately, hence she continued scouting for more jobs and acted in minor roles.

Personal Life

She is currently not married but has a daughter who should be about 25 years old. She gave birth to her daughter Theodora at the age of 17 years old.

The actress didn't know she was pregnant until about 7 months when her mum noticed and she was confirmed to be so. Her daughter is married and has a son which makes the talented actress a grandmother at the age of 42 years old.

Genevive Nnaji Rise To Prominence in Nollywood And The Movie Industry

Genevieve Nnnaji by the year 1999 was now playing major roles and gaining popularity after she put in a stellar performance in the film Ijele. She also appeared and started gaining popularity among Nollywood fans in other movies she acted after Ijele like Mark of the Beast and Last Party.

At the end of 2002, it was clear that Genevieve Nnaji was a force to reckon with within Nollywood. She delivered in roles that cast her as a ‘bad girl’ and also 'a cry baby' with such convincing results that one could assume she was a ‘bad girl and cry baby in real life.

Her role in 2002 for the movie Sharon Stone caught not only the eyes of local viewers but those of the international community as well. One can say that through the buzz of the movie Sharon Stone, the multi-talented actress reinvented the Nigerian film Industry, introducing Nollywood to the rest of the world.

Genevieve was popular and was among the first Nigerian actors to claim some prestigious awards both internationally and locally. One of such was her becoming the first actor to be awarded in the 2001 City Peoples Awards. The award was usually meant for only recognised politicians and business conglomerates.

She is currently the richest Nigerian actress and her net worth is over 8 million dollars which are over 3 billion Naira.

Genevive Nnaji Music, Presenting And Modelling Career

She is considered one of the most beautiful Nigerian actresses to date. She is popularly also called black beauty items of her beauty.

She has made a name for herself in the modelling industry and in 2004 Lux made her the face of their beauty line. In 2010, she was also the face of MUD cosmetics in Nigeria. She was offered millions of Naira just to be the face of these lines.

She also graced other billboards and TV commercials with her alluring smile and personality like Pronto (beverage), Maggi, Etisalat, Amstel Malta, Range Rover Evoque and Omo detergent.

Genevieve music and modeling career
Genevieve Nnaji was featured as a vixen in the 2008 Fall in love award-winning song by the popular musician D-banj. Source: Unsplash

In 2010, the actress was the presenter and host for the guider ultimate search done that year themed “Celebrity Showdown” featuring Nollywood actors

Genevieve Nnaji released her debut album One Logologo Line in 2004 after becoming a household name thanks to her leading roles in several Nollywood movies. She signed a music record label deal with EKB records in Ghana.

The album was also released in Accra, Ghana the single 'No More' became very popular in Africa because it was sung by Genevive.

At the end of the day, her music career did not turn out to be successful like her career in Nollywood and the movie industry at large. She also featured as a vixen in a popular music video sung by the award-winning and popular D-banj.

The album she made with EKB records was an 8 track album with songs:

  • Mo Bre Wo Ft. Obour
  • Missing You
  • Bumo It up
  • No More - This was the project’s lead single
  • Genevive
  • One Logologo Line Ft. V.I.P
  • Native Doctor Ft. Dede
  • Thinking of You Ft. Kojo Antwi
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Genevieve Nnaji Movies

The star celebrity has appeared in over 100 movies in Nollywood and the movie industry at large.  Some of the movies she has acted in over the years are listed below:

  • Ripples
  • Deadly Mistake
  • Fire Dancer
  • Keeping Faith: Is That Love?
  • Death Warrant
  • Fire Dancer
  • Jealous lovers
  • Half Of A Yellow Sun
  • Emotional Tears
  • For Better For Worse
  • Last Weekend
  • Super Love
  • Ijé: The Journey
  • Weekend Getaway
  • The Chosen One
  • Bumper To Bumper
  • Women Affair
  • The Mirror Boy
  • Sharon Stone in Abuja
  • Valentino
  • Lionheart
  • Tango With Me
  • Silent Scandal Parts 1 and 2
  • Beautiful Soul
  • Road To Yesterday
  • Farming
  • Private Sin
  • Love My Way Parts 1 and 2
  • Keep My Will
  • Herself
  • Rivers Of Tears Parts 1 And 2
  • Unfinished Business
  • Games Women Play
  • Critical Decision Dangerous Sisters
  • Goodbye New York
  • 30 Days
  • He Lives in Me
  • Into Temptation
  • My First Love
  • Darkest Night
  • Power Of Love
  • Never Die for Love
  • Promise Me Forever
  • Wind Of Glory
  • Stand by Me
  • Letters To A Stranger
  • My Idol
  • The Truth With Olisa
  • Late Marriage
  • Camouflage

Genevieve Nnaji As A film Producer

The talented actress produced her first film Road to Yesterday in 2015. The movie was a success and won the Best Movie in  West Africa at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards in 2016. She also produced another successful movie in 2017 titled The Royal Hibiscus Hotel.

Lionheart movie written by Genevieve Nnaji
The first movie written and directed by Genevieve Nnaji became the first Netflix original film produced in Nigeria. Source: Unsplash

By 2018, the actress turned producer wrote and directed her first movie called the Lionheart. The movie became the first movie of African descent to appear on Netflix. The movie was sold for over a billion Nigerian Naira.

Awards and Honours

Throughout her acting career, the popular and loved actress Genevieve Nnaji has won several awards:

  • Best Actress at the City People Entertainment Awards in 2001.
  • Best Actress in Leading Role at Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) in 2005.
  • Best Actress TV Series at Nigeria Entertainment Awards 2010 for Guinness Ultimate Survivor.
  • Best Actress-Africa Collaboration at Ghana Movie Awards in 2010 for Silent Scandals.
  • Best Kiss (with Majid Michel) for Bursting Out at Best of Nollywood Awards 2011.
  • Best Actress at Zulu African Film Academy Awards for The Mirror Boy in 2011.
  • Winner of Viewers Choice- Female award at Nollywood Movies Awards 2012.
  • Best Actress Leading Role at Nollywood and African Film Critics Awards (NAFCA)for Weekend Getaway in 2013.
  • Best Actress in Supporting Role at Nigeria Entertainment Awards 2014 for Half of a Yellow Sun.
  • Best Movie West Africa at Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards in 2016 for Road to Yesterday (as a co-producer).
  • Outstanding Foreign Film / World Cinema Motion Picture at The 19th Black Reel Awards (FAAAF) in 2019 for Lionheart (as a director).

In November 2011 Genevieve Nnaji was one of the Nigerians that was honoured and named Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) by the former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan for her contributions to the Nollywood industry.

During the 2015 Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice (AMVCs) Awards, he was awarded the Best Dressed woman at the event.

Charity Work

The actress has a clothing line called St Genevieve which she launched in 2008 which is also available on Jumia.  The clothing line donates a percentage of its proceeds to charity. She is also involved in other philanthropic works.

Do you want to learn to act like Genevieve Nnaji? Search for "drama or acting tutors on Superprof Nigeria" and learn the fundamentals of drama and acting.

You can also read up about some of your other favourite stars below:

Olu Jacobs: Career, Movies And Awards

Omotola Jalade Ekeinde: Career, Movies And Awards

Richard Mofe-Damijo: His Life, Career, Movies And Awards

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oyin

I am a creative freelancer and fashion designer who loves to travel, explore and meet new people.