M-A-R-R-I-A-G-E? NOT ON MY AGENDA NOW — GENEVIEVE
If star actress Genevieve Nnaji's life were to be a movie script we would have titled it 'Come Back Kid 1—3'. This is due to the fact that she has a way of rising over adversity. She emerged to be a star actress after the delivery of a baby girl at age 17 and came back strongly after a ban that many predicted would end her career. Here is the story of the Mbaise, Imo State ex-UNILAG student as she told SAMUEL OLATUNJI.
You've been credited with a lot of things in the movie industry; one of which is paving the way for dark-skinned actresses. How does it feel to have that singular honour?
I'm glad I'm able to bring some sanity into the creative world. Creativity is internal, not external, although when it comes to movie, it is required externally. I think to judge a person by the colour of his or her skin is a problem. Well, I will say I'm honoured. It's a compliment, and I think some other actresses did it before me. We had Ann Njemaze and Uche Osotule, and so I'm not probably the only one.
It is amazing that you are giving credit to those before you. I spoke with a marketer sometime ago who specifically mentioned that a younger actress was not giving you and Omotola your due respect.
I think it is a personal issue really. You don't know why people do or don't do what they do. I think those are personal really. It is not my problem and it does not affect me in anyway. it's their issue. I have no problems giving honour to whom it is due.
I once sent you an SMS that you are my Comeback Kid Three because you are like Hilary Clinton, who has a way of coming back again and again. How do you always reemerge when people seem to have written you off?
(Hearty laughter) I don't know; that's a weird question. I just think there is a time for everything. When it is your time you will know. It is not that I put my name to anything. You want to know how I keep coming back again and again? I really don't know. But I think I don't do anything because I feel like or because it is time to do it. It's not a planned thing neither is it a comeback gimmick. It happens that way and it's to my advantage. I give God the glory; that was not my plan really.
You've been into everything from movie to music and now to fashion, so what else?
Movie, music and fashion kind of go hand in hand. It has to do with entertainment. Movie making is entertainment, music is entertainment, fashion is glamour and TV is a glamorous thing, I think they all go hand in hand as it is, but you'll just have to wait and see because it is all a surprise to me, as well. It is not like I expect it to come, it just comes to me and when they come, like I say, I am one person who does not plan. I just go with the flow. I go with the wind; wherever God directs me. And as it unveils itself to me that is how it unveils itself to everybody. You will just have to wait because I am eagerly waiting to see what next will come.
When will you start designing for men so that I can buy one?
I will still do for men, don't worry.
I learned it will cost an arm and a leg to buy your designs from Lamide?
It will not cost an arm and a leg, those are rumours. It is very affordable.
When are you going to open the boutique?
Its going to be towards September or October. That is when we will finish the production of the brand so that when we open, it will come out well and people will not be taken by surprise.
And will it still be called St. Genevieve?
Yes it's going to be called St. Genevieve.
Will you have branches in other parts of Nigeria?
Yes I am spreading it wide, even the fashion show will still go from state to state because there is a non-governmental organization (NGO) attached to the label.
Tell me about the NGO?
Well, I'm doing a little contribution with Link a child. Link a child is an NGO that we all know about. I'm doing it in a way that I get to clothe the children. What I'm doing is to give a percentage of everything bought to the NGO to clothe the children. This is an opportunity for me to give back to the society that has given to me. It also gives the children the opportunity to wear new clothes rather than tattered ones.
What is the partnership between you and Lamide like?
I draw the designs and Lamide brings it to life.
You've been busy hopping from one location to the other. Are you going to ever stop making movies?
No, that I can say right now, but then never say never. I'm sure some day, I will probably decide that I have had enough or this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. Like I used to say, I go with the flow.
I learned you are becoming choosier by the day and that is the reason you did not take part in Yankee Girls.
Don't you think I should be choosier? Would you rather I do every film that came my way? I intend to give value for money. Those who believe in me and still go out to buy my movies should be adequately compensated. The little I can do right now is make sure it is worth their while. So, I have to be selective in what I'm doing. I don't want to get bored or get depressed. For me, I have to enjoy what I'm doing. If a script does not make any sense to me or if I'm not enjoying what I'm doing, then there is no way I will play the role conveniently for the viewers.
Is it true you regretted not taking part in Yankee Girls?
I did not like the story line.
You've been linked to almost everybody romantically except me. When will you be linked to me?
(Prolonged laughter) I would rather not either.
Why are people always dropping your name when it comes to romance?
I should be the one asking you that question. You know the people in the dropping business; I think you should direct the question to them.
I read somewhere that you are now 31..
(Cuts in), do you mean 31? Are you people chasing me to my grave?
How does it feel to be 29 years old then?
It feels like I'm hitting 30, that is exactly how it feels. I feel good. It depends on how you feel inside; I'm young, I'm 25. Right now I'm 20 (laughter)
In Sleep Walker, you delivered your lines as someone meant to act.
May be I am meant to act.
When is Genevieve getting married?
Genevieve has not found a reason to be married yet.
That is surprising; you mean you need a reason?
Yes, if I find a reason to get married I will. Marriage is a lifetime commitment and I haven't found that commitment. I haven't seen that thing I want to live with for the rest of my life. I haven't seen that reason I would want to be tied down with a person for the rest of my life. I just haven't seen the encouragement.
Do you mean the men that come around you are not committed?
What makes you think men come around?
Ah, even I that is married feel like coming around.
If you think like that, it means the good ones are taken? Aren't they? The good ones are running out.
Seriously, I know men would be falling over themselves for your hand in marriage. You have everything a man is looking for, it is just that I met my wife earlier.
(Another round of laughter) Obviously, they are looking but have not looked my way. I'm sitting around.
Don't you feel lonely?
No. I'm too busy to be lonely.
You know business cannot fill some void.
You know, emotional void.
I think those kind of void come around only when you are idle. I think if you keep your mind busy, you are emotionally busy.
What kind of man are you looking for?
I'm sure if I see the kind of man I want I would recognize him.
How will you recognize something you don't know you are looking for?
Well, if you are not looking for something and it comes to you, then it is yours.
You had a child at the age of 17. How come you did not end up like some other people who had babies and lost it all?
It is because, to have a child is not a curse, it is a blessing. It depends on how you decide to take it or how you programme yourself to see the world. I believe it is a grace God has given me; I see it as a blessing not a curse. The way you see things determines the way they work for you.
You must have felt traumatized.
Traumatized or not, I move ahead. Right now I can only thank God and move on and she is one of them.
How old is your daughter now?
She is now 12.