Featured|April 20, 2011 11:22 am

CNN interviews Genevieve Nnaji

CNN interviews Genevieve Nnaji;

As part of our efforts to bring the best news from the Nigerian movie industry directly  to your doorstep, we present to you a recent CNN interview with one of Nigeria's most successful actress Genevieve Nnaji.

About Genevieve Nnaji ;

Genevieve Nnajiwas born on May 3rd 1979. She hails from Mbaise, Imo state, Nigeria. She is an actress, model and a songstress and grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. The fourth of eight children she was brought up in a middle class environment. Her father worked as an engineer and her mother as a teacher.

She attended the Methodist Girls College Yaba before heading onto the University of Lagos. While at the university Genevieve began auditioning for acting jobs amongst the many Nollywood projects.

Nnaji started her acting career as a child actress in the then popular television soap opera Ripples at the age of eight. 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’. Genevieve has been acting since she was eight years till date.

In 2005 she won the African Movie Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. According to CNN Genevieve is referred to as the "Julia Roberts of Africa".

Nnaji has starred in over 80 Nollywood movies.Genevieve Nnaji is considered to be one of the best paid actresses in Nollywood. In 2004 she 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.

Nnaji has featured in several commercials some of which include Pronto beverage and Omo detergent. In 2004 she became the "Face of Lux" in Nigeria[ in a highly lucra­tive spon­sor­ship deal.

2008 saw Nnaji launching a 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.

Awards and nominations

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 African Movie Academy Awards. Nominated in the ‘Best actress In a Leading Role’ category for the movie ‘Tango With Me’

The Nollywood star says Nigeria is "just like another New York" she wouldn't live anywhere but Lagos.

NOTABLE QUOTE: “I don't think I have reached my peak necessarily so I hope for other opportunities, greater opportunities to express myself”.

--Genevieve Nnaji

Every week CNN International's African Voices highlights Africa's most engaging personalities, exploring the lives and passions of people who rarely open themselves up to the camera.

(CNN)-- With her glamorous looks and exceptional talent, Nigerian movie star Genevieve Nnaji is one of Africa's most successful actresses.

The screen diva -- dubbed the Julia Roberts of Africa -- has starred in dozens of films, enchanting millions of movie fans across the continent. The 31-year-old actress is considered to be a poster girl for Nollywood, the booming Nigerian movie industry, which according to UNESCO, is the world's second-largest film producer after India's Bollywood.

Nnaji has been performing in front of the camera from the age of 8. She is now one of Africa's most instantly recognisable faces and has won several accolades, including the 2005 African Academy Movie Award for Best Actress.

CNN's Pedro Pinto caught up with Nnaji before her latest movie premiere in London to discuss fame and her passion for Nigeria. An edited version of the interview follows.

CNN: Do you see yourself as an ambassador for your country?

Genevieve Nnaji: As long as you are a celebrity and in the public eye, you are an ambassador because you are the person they see -- they can't see the whole continent, they can't see the whole country.

CNN: How would you describe Nigeria to people who've never been there?

GN: Nigeria is a unique and a peculiar country, and as the people, we are too.

CNN: Why peculiar?

GN: Because everything, every aspect of human nature is in every Nigerian -- the good, the bad, the ugly, it's just like another New York. Nigeria is fun, to be honest.

But when...all we have people talking about when it comes to Nigeria is crime and fraud and things...that's just a very very minute number of people. Nigerians on the whole are very confident people. I believe we are confident, I believe we are very resourceful and we are very hospitable when it comes to visitors in the country.

CNN: When you look at your country, what are some of the things that you love about it?

GN: I like that as Nigerians we have some sort of neighborly love that we don't understand. We have a way of coming to the rescue of complete strangers. We do have that bond and I think it has to do with our background and how we are raised....I would never live anywhere else to be honest, no.

CNN: Really?

GN:Yes, I grew up in Lagos, I was born and bred there and I don't see myself leaving that town any time soon. I can work anywhere else but in terms of living, I'm used to Lagos.

CNN: How does it make you feel when people are screaming your name constantly?

GN: You never get completely used to it, like the last time I was here for the other premiere -- "Bursting Out" -- it was pretty overwhelming. I just thought, is this my life, all these people actually loving and appreciating me for who I am?

It's very humbling to be honest; I must say I'm blessed.

CNN: When did you realise that maybe this could be your future, this could be your career?

GN: I don't think I ever realised that, for a long time I kept thinking, OK, this is just temporary, definitely I'm going to go back to school and read law, English or something that I wanted to do.

So I never fully accepted acting as my profession. I don't think I saw myself there but somehow...here we are, I am an actor.

CNN: Do you ever get the feeling when you wake up in the morning one day that you wish you weren't famous?

GN: Oh yes, I don't even need to wake up, just sitting down sometimes I'm like, God, sometimes I hate my life. But I can't complain.

CNN: You have been referred to as the African Julia Roberts. When you hear that, what do you feel?

GN: Thanks to Oprah (Winfrey), it's very, very flattering, I mean not just because I'm compared to (Roberts) but because of who compared me to her.

So it's an honor to be honest but I think it's probably the vein we have on the forehead, I think that's what we have in common.

CNN: What do you wish for your future, where do you see yourself?

GN: “I want to be further challenged in my career; I don't think I have reached my peak necessarily, so I hope for other opportunities, greater opportunities to express myself.

Mostly because there is still something inside of me that I just feel I haven't let out and it's really trying to come out and trying to burst loose so I'm hoping for that opportunity...I just want that story, that story that challenges me even further”.

CNN interviews Genevieve Nnaji, how did you see the interview?

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