Nigerian actress, producer, and director Genevieve Nnaji has become the most successful actress in Nollywood, the African equivalent of Hollywood based in Nigeria.
Nnaji was born May 3, 1979, won the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role in 2005, making her the first actress to win the award. In 2011, she was honored as a Member of the Order of the Federal Republic by the Nigerian government for her contribution to Nollywood.
Nnaji was born in Mbaise, Imo State, Nigeria but grew up in Lagos, the fourth of eight children and was brought up in a middle class environment. Her father worked as an engineer and her mother as a nursery school teacher. She attended Methodist Girls College (Yaba, Lagos), before transferring into 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.
Nnaji started her acting career as a child actress in the then popular television soap opera Ripples at the age of 8. In 1998 at the age of 19 she was introduced into the growing Nigerian film industry with the movie “Most Wanted”. Her subsequent movies include Last Party, Mark of the Beast and Ijele. In 2010 she starred in the award-winning film Ijé: The Journey. She has starred in over 80 Nollywood movies.
As of 2009 Nnaji was one of the best paid actresses in Nollywood. Due to her contributions to the Nigeria movie industry, she became the first actress 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 actress to be awarded as Best Actress by the Censors Board of Nigeria in 2003. In 2009, she was referred to as the Julia Roberts of Africa by Oprah Winfrey.
In 2004 Nnaji signed a recording contract with EKB Records, a Ghanaian record label, and released her debut album One Logologo Line, a mix of R&B, Hip-Hop and Urban music.
In November 2015 Nnaji produced her first movie called Road to Yesterday 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. This was later debunked as an internet prank and the actress did not appear in the movie.[
On September 7, 2018 her directorial debut “Lionheart” was acquired by online streaming service Netflix marking it the first Netflix original film from Nigeria. The Movie has its world premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.
Nnaji has featured in several commercials some of which include those of Pronto beverage and Omo detergent. In 2004 she became the “Face of Lux“ in Nigeria. in a highly lucrative sponsorship deal. In 2008 Nnaji launched the clothing line, “St. Genevieve”, which donates its proceeds to charity. In May 2010 Nnaji was appointed to be the official “Face of MUD” in Nigeria.
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 edition Africa Movie Academy Awards.