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How Hollywood made me feel like a commodity – Genevieve Nnaji [Video]

Nollywood actress Genevieve Nnaji has shared her experience seeking partnerships in Hollywood after the success of her 2018 film, LionHeart.

Despite her achievements, Nnaji said she realised that she was viewed as a commodity, with Hollywood interested in exploiting her talent and African stories for their benefit.

She noted that they wanted to use her to tell their own stories, rather than authentic African stories.

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“For the first time, I realised I was a commodity. I thought, you know, given what I had done with Lionheart, and all of that, I was going to have an opportunity to do more. Getting there and having the kind of support that obviously CANEX is bringing on board, but I thought I could find it in Hollywood. That was not quite the case.

“They wanted what I had but for their benefit. It was all about their story. It was all about how, even if it was our story, I could make it more authentic to their own understanding of whatever Africa is because they did have a lot of literature in their archives”, she said.

Genevieve Nnaji , who was on a panel at the 2024 AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum/Afreximbank Annual Meetings and has benefited from Creative Africa Nexus (CANEX), an Afreximbank programme through which it provides support, including financial support for trade and investment in Africa’s creative sector, expressed her passion for building a strong Nigerian film industry, Nollywood, that can rival Hollywood.

According to her, she chose to stay in Nigeria and contribute to the industry’s growth rather than pursuing opportunities in Hollywood.

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The actress believes that Africa has the potential to own a thriving industry that tells its own stories, and she is committed to being part of that journey.

“But I am Nollywood. I could have gone to Hollywood a long time if I wanted to. But I had a dream to build an industry in Nigeria that could rival it. That’s because I’ve always believed in that. I have always believed that we were capable of actually owning an industry like that, that told our story for our people. I wanted that. I respect what Hollywood is doing. I respect what Bollywood is doing and I felt like Nollywood had an equal chance at it.

“So when I found it wasn’t quite what they had in mind I was like I’m just going to wait this out and the Covid happened and the worlds switched at that point and Africa sort of became it,” she added

Watch the attached video below:

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Simon Kabutey
Simon Kabutey
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