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Genevieve Nnaji

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Name: Ihunanya Genevieve Nnaji  

Stage or Nickname: Genevieve Nnaji or Genny

Date of Birth: May 3rd, 1979

Relationship Status: Single

Occupation: Actress, Model and Singer

Net Worth: ₦220 Million


Genevieve Nnaji is a Nigerian Actress known for her ease  in interpreting different characters ranging from mother to flirt and to drug addict. She won the Africa Movie Award for Best Actress in a leading role in 2005 and in 2011 she was honoured as a member of the Order of the Federal Republic by the Nigerian Government for her support to the growth of Nollywood.


Genevieve was born on May 3, 1979 in Imo State,Precisely Mbaise to Theophillus and Benedatta Nnaji both from Imo State.

She grew up in Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria. The fifth of eight children, she was brought up in a middle-class environment. Her father worked as an engineer and her mother worked as a teacher but also engaged in petty trading. She attended the Methodist Girls College Yaba before heading to the University of Lagos. While at the university, Genevieve began auditioning for acting jobs among the many Nollywood productions.

Talking about her childhood experiences, She says

“I was a tomboy. I had three brothers right behind me. My sisters were too busy with themselves – you know how elder sisters are. I played football on the street,” .I used to engage in fistfights with the boys who lived in my  compound.  “I got into a fight with a neighbor of mine who was a boy and I beat him up… I was six years old. We were mates and he was fat. He definitely asked for it and he got it,” . My home was a traditional Igbo household where my mother acted as the primary disciplinarian. “My dad was the kind of person you didn’t want to speak to you because you would actually feel the disappointment that you are at that time. In fact he had a way of – its not even pleading to your conscience – I think it’s a silent threat to your conscience.” At the same time her household was very liberal when it came to her studies and artistic pursuits. As a child Genevieve participated in plays at school and church. “I watched a lot of TV as a child, so I think I was pretty much screen trained. Of course there was no Nigerian cinema then, so everything was on TV,” she said. As a primary school student she excelled in the arts, painting and even producing a comic book series that became very popular in her school. “I would have my classmates bombard me to write the next one while they were reading,”.

Genevieve’s comfortable, even idyllic, childhood changed dramatically when she turned 12 and her father lost his job at the construction equipment supplier Caterpillar because of tribal discrimination. He also lost a subsequent job at the Nnamdi Azikiwe founded African Continental Bank when it collapsed in 1991. Forced to curtail expenditures, her family moved from Surulere to Egbeda, closer the Lagos, Ogun State border. Where once Genevieve and her siblings enjoyed their father’s assigned staff car and driver to take them to and from school, they now found themselves “trekking” to school and spending their afternoons helping their mother sell provisions to make up for lost income while her father searched for work. “She traded, she sold stuff, she got her children to sell stuff for her and we had to. We had no choice. We were living in her house. We cried,” Genevieve said. She did things she needed to do at that time. Her friends are not doing it. So she says then "Why should I be the one to be doing it? You’re embarrassed about it, but I’m grateful for that because I think if I wasn’t even given that chance to be humble, I probably wouldn’t appreciate what I have today and understand that it doesn’t make me better than the next person. And just know that everyone is equal and everyone is entitled to love and respect,”.

At the same time, in what could be interpreted as a push to escape the intensity of daily life, She began to pay more attention to the acting she saw on television. When she turned 16, Nollywood was still in its infancy. The Chris Obi Rapu film Living in Bondage,which is widely credited with bringing real attention to the new entertainment phenomenon, was only a few years old. “But then Nollywood was pretty new and I was watching one of the films back then—I can’t remember the title—and this was me watching another actress, and in my mind I was criticizing how she was performing: ‘No that’s not the reaction she’s supposed to be having to that line.’ I was thinking ‘Oh, I would have done it this way’ or ‘No, I can do this!’ and it’s deep in your gut that you actually know, you actually believe you can. There’s no doubt about it, no questions about it. That was when I realized that I had interest. Did I ever think I would do it as a profession? I don’t think so.”

Her original intention to read Law or English at the University of Lagos, morphed into a major in Creative and Performing Arts. Then she landed a small part in the film Most Wanted. “My role was to interview Regina Askia, a former beauty queen turned actress who was a goddess at that time. That was major. I had to pull it off as a pro and I did it, and the producers asked me if I had done it before and I said no. They were amazed at my confidence—probably I had some training in church or something— but I remember I enjoyed doing it,” Genevieve told me. After this performance, she quickly landed other roles. At the end of her first year in university, stressed by the triple load of acting, coursework and modeling, and frustrated by the continuous strikes plaguing the university system, she made the decision to leave school to pursue acting full time. “My dad didn’t find it funny,” she said. “He wasn’t happy about it, but I kind of reassured him that I would go back, that it wasn’t over. He was mostly concerned about the amount of exposure film was going to bring me, coming from a very conservative, almost prudish home of a Catholic Igbo family.”


She started her acting career as a child actress in the then-popular television soap opera "Ripples" at the age of 8. She was also featured in several commercials, some of which included “Pronto beverage” and Omo detergent. In 1998, at age 19, she made her debut in the growing Nigerian film industry with the movie "Most Wanted." As an upcoming actress, trying to create a niche for herself, she went through various minor roles seeking for that opportunity for a breakthrough. Her subsequent movies--"Last Party," "Mark of the Beast," and "Ijele" (which is still considered to be one of her best epic performances to date) brought forth an icon to be loved and adored by many.

Her name became a household name and her image the desire of every young girl. In 2002, she starred in the movie Sharon Stone (2002), and her fame shot beyond the shores of Nigeria to the rest of Africa and several European countries.

One can say that through the buzz, Genevieve reinvented the Nigerian film Industry, introducing Nollywood to the rest of the world.Genevieve appeals just as warmly to Kenyans, Liberians, South Africans, and Ghanaians, who avidly watch Nigerian home videos at home and abroad. Genevieve has led the market into new territories today.


 In 2004, a search for the face of Lux was embarked upon, and out of several celebrities all over Africa, Genevieve emerged with the highest votes. She graced several billboards and television stations with her enduring smile and personality. The same year, she was contracted by a Ghanaian record label to record an album, which got immense attention locally and in several African countries.
In recognition of her immense contribution to the Nigerian film industry, Genevieve was presented with numerous awards, some of which have been in Dublin, London, and the United States. She won best actress of the year in the 2001 City People Awards and in 2005 at the inaugural awarding of the prestigious African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA). She has featured in more than 80 Nollywood movies to date.

With several movies to her credit, and numerous fans around the world, in 2008, in a bid to give back to society, Genevieve launched her clothing line, St. Genevieve, which donates a percentage of its proceeds to charity (orphanages).

In 2009, Genevieve made history by being the first Nigerian actress to be profiled on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on an episode about the most popular people around the world. Genevieve is believed to be one of the highest-paid and most desired actresses in Nollywood.

In 2010 Genny was made the Face of MUD (Make Up Designory) a cosmetic brand in Nigeria.

 In 2011 she graced the June edition of TELL Magazine, Which has not featured any Nigerian Entertainer in its 20 years of publishing.


Year Award Title
2001 City People Awards Best Actress of the year
2005 1st Africa Movie Academy Awards Best Actress of the year
2010 Ghana Movie Awards Best Actress - West Collaboration-Silent Scandals
2010  Nigeria Entertainment Awards Best Actress in TV Series/Reality Show/ Game Show
2011 Monaco Charity Film a Festival Awards Breakthrough Performance ( Actress)-Mirror boy
2011 Zulu African Film Academy Awards London Best Actress-Mirror boy
2012 Best of Nollywood Awards Best Kiss in Nigerian movie-Bursting Out
2012 Nollywood Movies Awards Female Viewers Choice
2013 Nafca-Weekend Getaway Best Actress In A Supporting Role
2014 2014 Nigeria Entertainment Awards 2014 Nigeria Entertainment Awards-Half of a Yellow Sun
2016  Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards
 Best Movie West Africa-Road to Yesterday


She is the ambassador brand Ambassador for Lux, Cintrion Energy drink, Range Rover Evogue, Etisalat, Polo and Amstel Malta


She was rumoured to have had a relationship with popular musician D'banj which she denied and said they were only friends.


At age 17 she got pregnant which she did not discover until she was 4 months gone but her parents being stunch catholics disagreed with abortion. She later gave birth to a baby girl Chimebuka Theodora Nnaji  who owns a Make-Up school in Lagos.


In 2014 she was given a Chieftaincy title in her hometown Mbaise  Eze Ada 1 of Amuzu Nweafor.

She is not married 


Most wanted Camouflage Love boat Sharon Stone in Abuja Super love
The chosen one Women affair  Bumper to bumper Critical decision Tango with me
Lola Bursting out Zara Williams Mirror boy Sacred lines
Isabella ije soul sisters Last flight to Abuja Road to Yesterday
Half of a yellow sun Doctor bello Bursting Out Critical Condition My idol






Article Credit: Kenechukwu Edeh

Updated 3 Years ago

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