Genevieve side of the story

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According to the rumour in town, Nollywood actress Genevieve Nnaji was reportedly fired from a movie set, Tulip, after being paid over a hundred thousand dollars to star in it ( $110,000). The rumour alleged that the actress made herself unavailable to the producers and then was rude when she was eventually contacted, thus leading to her being 'fired' from the set. This is the story being peddled all over internet. We contacted Genevieve to hear her own side of the story and this is her response to our questions.

What is this Tulip story being circulated and what actually happened? We heard you made demands to take your P.A with you amongst other demands.

A Ghanaian lady called Leila Djansi, living in America set up a company and decided to shoot a movie. She approached me and I told her to send the script. She did and I like the role. I told her I would be interested based on contract negotiations and rest of cast. She got back to me and I was informed that I would be acting alongside Kimberly Elise and some up and coming Ghanaian actors. I made no demands whatsoever. I was told that a Ghanaian would be my P.A while shooting in some villages in Ghana and I said no, I already had one and I would even be willing to pay her ticket to Ghana, but I will not use a stranger.

There was no trip to America mentioned until October. So, I could never have demanded to take my P.A along, although I want to state that if I felt like it, I would have requested it. After all, when we bring foreign acts over here, we allow them with nutritionist, P.A and whoever else they choose to bring. So, this is the first lie. 'Demands' were not the problem. I was asked to forward recent pictures for their promo campaign, measurement details and address to send contract to in Nigeria so I could read and give final approval. I did all those things.

What did I get in return? Leila Djansi who is the so called producer of this movie began stalking me with phone calls about how

Ghanaians are angry she hired a Nigeria actress. How people were telling her I am a snob and so on. Discussion were held and we concluded this is normal, that there will always be haters and I am used to it. But I am a professional, so I was not interested in idle gossip. I wanted to see the contract and the final script because she said they were changing it around to enlarge a role for Van Vicker whom she said had her to beg for a role in the movie even though she didn't think he could act. She said Ghanaians were piling pressure on her to have a Ghanaian star in the movie

Were you fired from this movie?

I lost interest because she now seemed like the regular African in the Diaspora who wanted to shoot a movie and some of them even approach without a script and think just because they are based in the States, Nigerian acts should jump up and kiss their ass. Leila started hounding me with calls. I was working on set one day and when I came off, I had 22 missed calls from her within an hour. I was tired of talking to someone who wanted to trade gossip and be my 'friend' rather than talk about the movie or the contract which she still hadn't sent via post.

I had been through this many times and even shot a movie with one of such unprofessional people who was unable to distinguish between business and pleasure and lack any atom of professionalism. I do not work like that and I didn't want that to repeat itself.

So, what did you do?

I stopped taking her calls and insisted that we communicate via e-mail until she had sent the final script. She also sent me an SMS stating she was changing dates because she was finishing another production. I replied that they should inform me with enough time and forward all other information to my e-mail box and the contract through the address I had given her. This was not good enough for her. She insisted on speaking with me on the phone and when I refused, she lost it and things degenerated to where they are now. She then sent an e-mail claiming she needed convincing so she could convince her committee. I told that she had sent me an e-mail stating categorically that I was being fired because and I quote, “Unlike other African actors, you are natural.” So, if she is not convinced because I had stopped taking her calls, she should find another actress. By this time, I had sensed that this was not a credible path for me to follow.

What happened next? What about the money you were paid?

This led to Leila insulting me, Nollywood, Nigeria, Ghanawood and everyone and anyone. She told me how she is going to own 40 per cent of Nollywood having been financed by a Nigeria bank. How she has witnesses she will roll out to show that Genevieve has a bad reputation, how she is severing the contract and all that, but there was no contract. How can you terminate a contract that did not exist in the first place? She never paid me one kobo let alone one dollar, so where is the consideration that makes a contract?

She said derogatory things and I quote: “A bit of advice, nobody in Hollywood gives a damn about Nigerian or Ghanaian film industry, you are the only people who glory in your inferior work. You really think someone here will sit through an hour and half of pure torture of the same freaky music playing over the movie and the screaming and tantrums? You really think I want anyone here to think Africans are crazy?” That's what she told me.

There are so many other derogatory things she said that led me to believe I was not dealing with a professional. Look, If Hollywood ever wants to acknowledge Nigerian actors, they know where to find us just like they found the Bollywood stars. In the mean time, as I have said for years, I am not desperate for Hollywood. I am an actress, I want to act in the best stories and in the best produced movies with thorough professionals.

If a true Hollywood studio offers me a movie, they will approach as the true professionals they are and I will respond as I always have, like a professional. But if fans based in America choose to shoot a movie and think because they are based in America I should abandon all my work ethics and policies that have kept me where I am for over 10 years and will continue to keep me at the top of my profession, then they must be deluded and I told Ms Djansi that, along with informing her that Nollywood is African made and we are proud and if we had half the resources or time that Hollywood actors have, we would be just as good, if not better. That is my opinion. ( I have no problem working with independents. In fact I love it, but they must be genuine).

But aren't they threatening to sue you?

I have been waiting for this court case she threatened because I made sure she was aware she had no case but she clearly needs my attention and I told her to move on with her life, but if she wants to go to court , I am ready. Now, she is involving herself in internet propaganda. Which I find laughable. No official of the AGN has contacted me and why would they because of rumor on the internet? Genevieve has been in this business too long to be worried about such things. Like I told Leila, many have come and tried and they have failed. My career, in the name of God, will continue to soar and there is nothing she and her fellow idle minds can do about it.

I am an actress, if you want me in your movie, you approach me. If I like your script and other things fall into place such as fee, my fellow cast etc, we have a deal. I am an actress. The story drives me.

My character drives me. I don't care if we are shooting in Enugu or Switzerland. I don't know if other Nigeria acts allow these people abroad to get away with disrespectful and shoddy approaches but I have worked too hard not to be afforded the same respect they would afford the Hollywood actresses.

I did not beg for a role in her movie. She approached me, so I don't know why she expected me to treat her like someone coming to save Nollywood from mediocrity. Many like her have come and said the same, now they do nothing but reside here begging for actresses to manage and spreading rumours about actresses and actors that they can not afford and are way above anything they can ever do.

There is always one rumour or the other attached to the name Genevieve Nnaji. Why is this?

This will not be the first or last rumour about me. It is a hazard of the occupation. Those who want to eat and sleep with it for however long are welcome to it. I on the other hand, I am busy doing what I love best, acting, being creative and living my life and that's what no one can take away from me!