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Genevieve Nnaji – Renowned Nollywood Actress and Filmmaker (Biography and Net Worth, 2024)

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Genevieve Nnaji
Written by Robin Okwanma

Nollywood Amazon, Genevieve Nnaji, is a skilled actress, film producer, and director of global reckoning. She is a combination of brains, beauty and determination indeed. Presently the richest Nigerian actress, she has surmounted many odds and challenges to become what she is today.

 

We will be taking a brief look into the lifelong journey of Genevieve Nnaji, one of Nigeria’s most iconic actress, to stardom. One might call her a child of destiny, 

About Genevieve Nnaji: Her Background

Born in May 1979, Genevieve NNaji is a native of Mbaise, Imo state in southeast Nigeria. She is the fourth child of eight children. Her father was an engineer; while her mother was an elementary school teacher. 

Genevieve grew up within Surulere area of Lagos. She completed her primary school education at Kemstar school in Surulere. It was in Surulere where she was first exposed to acting at the age of eight. Her first-ever acting role was as a child actor in the Nigerian soap opera Ripples (by Zeb Ejiro). 

She proceeded to the Methodist Girls College, Yaba for her secondary education. These were difficult times for her. Her father lost his job twice. The entire family was forced to move from Surulere to Egbeda area of Lagos, due to financial difficulties. Genevieve and her siblings had to assist their mother in her trade. Again, during that period, she discovered she was pregnant, and already at a dangerous stage – past three months already. Thus ruling out any chances of safe abortion, she was forced to drop out of secondary school. She gave birth to her daughter, Chimebuka Theodora at 17 years old. 

She later secured admission to study Creative Arts (part-time) at the University of Lagos. However, she struggled at that time to secure acting roles, going from one audition to another. That was sometime in the late 1990s. Unable to balance schooling with her quest to secure acting roles, she unfortunately dropped out of the university (again). 

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How Genevieve Made a (Second) Breakthrough into Nigeria’s Movie Industry

With her needy family around her and a daughter to take care of, Genevieve Nnaji searched harder to audition for Nollywood movies. And it was difficult for her to secure roles at the early stages of her career.

But in 1998 (at the age of 19), Genevieve finally featured in her debut Nollywood role as a news reporter in the film Most Wanted. By 2004, she had started in at least 12 Nollywood films and acquired fame. To the point that Genevieve by then  had the confidence to demand for up to 3 million Naira for any acting role. In fact, she was named the Best Actress of 2001 by City People magazine. It was the first-ever (and rare) honour bestowed on any Nollywood celebrity in the history of the magazine. 

Unfortunately in 2004, Genevieve Nnaji was banned from being recruited by major film studios in Lagos and Onitsha. She was banned alongside four other actresses included amongst ‘The Big 5 Girls’ of Nollywood, due to their expensive acting fees. The other actresses affected included Stephanie Okereke, Stella Damasus, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, and Rita Dominic. 

That event led Genevieve into a musical career that was short-lived, as it was not very successful. She signed a record deal with Ghanaian record label EKB records, under which she launched her album, ‘One Logologo Line’. In spite of the album ending up a commercial failure, the hit single ‘No More’ on the album still enjoyed some popularity. 

Nevertheless, she found her way back into the big screen as an actress, producer, and director. She has featured in well over 80 movies up to date. She is also the highest-paid Nollywood actress of all time. She reportedly charged nothing less than between 3 million and 4 million Naira per role at the peak of her acting career.  

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She also directed the movie Lionheart, which was the first Nollywood movie to be streamed (and bought over) by Netflix. For that, she earned a whopping 3.8 million US Dollars, propelling her to the billionaire status. Today, Genevieve Nnaji is the wealthiest Nollywood actress and executive of all time. 

Some of the well-known Nollywood films she has featured in, include the following:

 

  • Letters to a Stranger
  • Jemima Lawal
  • Keep My Will
  • Warrior’s Heart
  • Unfinished Business
  • Winds of Glory
  • Juliana
  • Beautiful Soul
  • Broken Tears
  • Critical Condition
  • River of Tears
  • Yvonne
  • My Idol
  • Love My Way
  • Kayla
  • Silent Scandals
  • Jessie
  • Felicima
  • Ijé: The Journey
  • Chioma Opara
  • Tango with me
  • Lola
  • Bursting Out
  • Zara Williams
  • Mirror Boy
  • Teema
  • Sacred Lies
  • Isabella
  • Weekend Getaway
  • Half of a Yellow Sun
  • Ms. Adebayo
  • Doctor Bello
  • The Truth with Olisa
  • Guest
  • Road to Yesterday
  • Victoria
  • Lionheart
  • Adaeze

Genevieve Nnaji as a Successful Commercial and Fashion Model

In 2004, Genevieve emerged the finalist (out of several candidates across Africa) to become the Face of Lux. She was the first Nigerian and African to ever model for the international Lux brand. That endorsement deal earned her 20 million Naira at that time. It brought her into the league of international celebrities such as Patti Boulaye, Marilyn Monroe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Demi Moore (who had modeled for the Lux beauty soap). 

Genevieve also signed other endorsement deals with big brands which included Omo, Pronto, Etisalat, Range Rover Evoque, MUD Cosmetics, and Amstel Malta. This had started right from her childhood acting days. She also bagged an ambassadorial role in 2020 to represent the Toronto International Film Festival

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Genevieve was also a fashion model; and she modeled for various renowned global clothing brands. And in 2008, she created her own clothing line namely St. Genevieve. She donates a percentage of her earnings from the clothing line to charity. 

Genevieve Nnaji: Net Worth (2024)

Genevieve is estimated that have a net worth of about 12 million US Dollars (as of 2024). 

Genevieve Nnaji: Awards

Genevieve has won a number of prestigious national and international awards, which include the following:

  • 2001 City People Awards: Best Actress of the Year 
  • 2001 Best of Nollywood Awards: Best Actress
  • 2005 African Movie Academy Awards: Best Actress in a Leading Role 
  • 2010 Golden Icons Academy Movie Awards: Best Actress-Africa Collaboration

Genevieve Nnaji’s Personal Life

The famous actress had been involved in a number of romantic relationships, but they did not last. At present, Genevieve is single. However, she is an accomplished mother and grandmother.

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About the author

Robin Okwanma

Hi, I'm Robin Okwanma. Software Engineer || Django, Python || React, React Native || Blogger. Technical Writer.