Hollywood tried to use me for their benefit after Lionheart’s success – Genevieve Nnaji

Award-winning Nigerian actress, Genevieve Nnaji has opened up on facing a harsh reality about Hollywood which went contrary to what she expected.

She said the American-domiciled movie industry made her realise that she was just a commodity following the success of her 2018 movie, Lionheart which was purchased by Netflix for a reported $3.8 million.

The 45-year-old movie star said she was hoping to get massive support from Hollywood given what she has achieved but what she met was a controlling and overbearing platform that wanted to use her for their benefit.

Hollywood wanted to use me for their benefit after Lionheart's success - Genevieve Nnaji

Genevieve said they tried to make her tell the African story in a western way and that is not what she wanted as her vision entailed owning an industry that told ‘our’ story for our people.

She spoke on a panel at the 2024 Afro-Caribbean Trade and Investment Forum/Afreximbank Annual Meetings while highlighting the benefits o Creative Africa Nexus (CANEX), an Afreximbank program that provides support, including financial support for trade and investment in Africa’s creative sector.

She said; “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.

“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”.

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