Screen diva Genevieve Nnaji reveals why she is still single among other interesting issues.
Tell us who Genevieve is?
She is just sitting right here (laughs) she doesn’t like trouble.
Tell us how and when you started professionally as an actress
Professionally I started in 1998 and I was 19.My first experience in acting I was 8 and that was in Ripples.
What made you choose this line of profession?
It wasn’t a decision I had to make, I was just trying to do my own bit in terms of helping provide for my family because it was a very tough time for us at that time and the easiest way I know to make money at that time for me and not feel the pressure is doing something you are passionate about, so I figured out and said let me try my hand in acting. I had seen a few people act and then it wasn’t called Nollywood and after IO had seen a few Nigerian movies, I thought I can do this and do it well and be happy doing it. So that was it, I wanted to do something I enjoyed doing and at the same time, see if I could bring some money home.
Did you ever think you would become this successful at what you do?
Firstly I didn’t think I was still going to be here at this time, like I said I was just burning time, I actually though I was going to go back and study Law. I initially wanted to read Law but at that point in my life, I knew I would probably read English but that didn’t work out so, I went to Unilag because I wanted to work and school at the same time. I enrolled in a part time course in Creative Arts, that’s what it was called then. I started juggling between school and work and because of the pressure, I had to stop. School was demanding money and work was demanding pressure so am like one has to just wait and that was it.
Do you plan on going back to school?
Not to school you don’t go back to school but I definitely plan on studying something that is of interest to me, something but will be of good use to my next stage of life.
What’s the next stage of your life?
Well am going to be or rather am already working on behind the scenes so I will just go back and study a bit of Directing.
Tell us about your life as an actress, what’s your daily routine like?
I don’t have a life as an actress; I have a job as an actress and a life as a regular human being.
But when you are not working, what do you do?
I am always working, am not always in movies but I have a whole lot of other things I do for myself.
You made a statement sometime ago that you have outgrown Nollywood or something like that?
So what did you say?
I don’t know people can just come up with that. I heard about it but I didn’t say that.
I think its somewhere outside the country that you did so?
No, it some kind of research, you see something like that on the internet and you take it as my quote, that’s not true. I would never say a thing like that. You know me, I don’t respond to rumours but for me at that point, it was important for me to react. Saying I had outgrown Nollywood is not just a slap on my face but also an insult for my industry. I am part of Nollywood, it just felt like what is Nollywood; it’s given us so much so the least you can do is respect it.
Tell us about your first love, who is your first boyfriend?
He was a very handsome Youngman, a long time ago. Very handsome trust me.
Let’s talk about relationships, are you currently in one or looking at settling down at some point?
Sighs, I think everybody is prioritizing and so I am, really it’s not like I don’t want to settle down or anything but I don’t want to ‘settle down’ that’s not it ,I want somebody and until I find that person,theres no thought about settling down.
But why can’t you find, is it that you are still looking…..
Am not looking, am a woman, we are not allowed to look.
So when was the last time you had a boyfriend or do you have one now?
No I don’t have a boyfriend now.
What is it you looking out for in a man?
Well am that kind of girl who eats with her eyes, so at least I have to be attracted to you, and there has to be a physical attraction to draw me to you but at the end of the day it’s your mind am going to fall in love with .There is something that draws me to you but there is also something that keeps me. I just think am probably looking for a friend, somebody who shares a like mind and someone who is confident.
What does he have to look like?
I like tall guys, am short and you have to think of the kids.
What do you think about a guy saying she is famous, intelligent, and beautiful and I can’t handle that kind of wife?
Then he is a baby, am not looking for a boy, am looking for a man.
Would you consider a guy who is not as rich as you?
Laughs, how much money do I even, have, am wondering if am rich.
How much money did you make last year, because you got endorsement from Etisalat, Amstel, Range Rover?
I pay tax, I pay rent somewhere, I run an office and I pay staff. SO don’t talk about just the money I made but the money I spend.
But did you make a 100 million naira from Etisalat?
Amen, why not, am I not worth more (laughs) but you have to ask Etisalat that not me.
What about Amstel?
I drank a lot of Amstel.
Tell us about your national award you got not too long ago, do you think you deserved it?
It was 3 years ago, and I don’t know because it wasn’t even a contest. I didn’t know about it till the very last minute and it took me a while to understand what it meant. Forgive my ignorance.
So you are Genevieve Nnnaji MFR?
Yes. Member Federal Republic but then I know I have always been a Nigerian.
Do you always use the title?
It’s on my twitter and I forget to use but when I go to twitter it’s always there.
Do you think you got it because you are the number one actress in Nigeria or because you have friends in …Cuts in
You said it (laughs)
Or because you have friends in government?
I don’t have friends in government.
But people said you are very close to presidency, is it true?
No, who are these people because I would really want to know.
Let’s talk about movies for now, what’s your next step?
You relaunched your fashion label St Genevieve, what happened the first time?
It’s a re launch but the difference is when it was first launched, I pretty much launched the desire to go into fashion and a way to launch myself to the public as designer, it’s something I have been doing since I was 7, in primary school but nobody knows that side of me, so it was a mild introduction of what I had planned. Imagine if that didn’t happen and I just came out with this, I think we would be asking a lot more questions by now.
Do you think you are good enough as the designer or you would be banking on your name and popularity to sell the designs?
Am banking on everything.
Are you wearing your design?
Yes, it’s very versatile.
Let’s talk about music; you went into it at some point in time, what happened?
I didn’t decide to go into music, it was decided for me because I was being managed by somebody who felt it would be a good idea since I have a good voice, it was a business strategy but I have always said if you are not ready for something and you go into it, it may not go well. It was a success though don’t get me wrong.
How do you think it was a success, how many albums did you sell?
It sold everywhere they wanted to sell it and Nigeria was not their target because at that time don’t forget we weren’t listening to Nigerian music .that was 2004/5.There was no pride in that but there was in every other part of Africa, especially in Ghana.
So how many copies did it sell?
I don’t know, it wasn’t my album, it was an album I did for some record company and I got paid up front .would you want to do it again?
Of course, why not but not that kind of song, am going to my kind of song, am a soul singer.
You had a daughter when you were much younger, did you have a lot of pressure from family back then?
As much as I don’t want to answer that question, why because that is a part of me that existed way before anybody knew about Genevieve so that’s why I keep that part of me and any discussions about my daughter to myself. Its precious to me because that’s the only part of me life that is private to me, after that I didn’t own my life anymore .But the truth of the matter is, this is just an advice for anybody who is going through that, everybody falls and that makes us human. What makes us super human are the people who rise.
But are you in contact with the father?
You don’t even know anything about him so you can’t ask me questions like that ,That’s me introducing things you don’t know, why would I do that.
How do you cope with male attention?
Like you already said, men are intimidated, they are not going to come up so contrary to what you may think, no men don’t come up to me .First of all am not necessarily out there for people to approach but that’s not the point when I am, people already have a preconceived notion about who you are and they are going to see you and judge for themselves based on what they have seen or read. Nobody knows you and the truth of the matter is, people are going to approach you already being judgemental and sometimes they don’t even approach you they are just judgmental so I don’t have those complications, I don’t have those disturbances but am grateful for that.
How do you get on with the other actresses, the likes of Stephanie, Omotola and co?
The thing is am whole lot of a loner, what we share in common sometimes is probably just that set, we all have our different lives and friends we want to hold on to whether its from the past or present .we share things in common like work doesn’t mean we share things in common like play but when you click with someone, it doesn’t matter if they are celebrities or not, you just strike a friendship.
Do you get on with Omotola?
I don’t see her that much but when we see, we are cool.
Are you planning on having more kids?
Yes, sure, am going to get married.
In 5 years time I see myself closing another, and another and another.
Have you thought of seeing yourself in Hollywood?
I have never envisioned that, funny enough regardless of what people may think, am passionate about building a Hollywood here, developing our own and creating that magic right here.