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Genevieve Nnaji Reflects on Hollywood Experience: ‘I Realised I Was a Commodity’

Veteran Nollywood actress Genevieve Nnaji recently shared insights into her challenging experiences in Hollywood following the success of her 2018 film, “LionHeart,” which Netflix acquired for a reported $3.8 million. Speaking at the 2024 AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum/Afreximbank Annual Meeting, Nnaji revealed that her attempts to forge partnerships in Hollywood were met with unexpected challenges, leading her to feel like a commodity.

Nnaji expressed her disappointment in not finding the support she had anticipated in Hollywood. She explained that although Hollywood showed interest in her work, it was primarily for their own gain. “For the first time, I realised I was a commodity,” she said. “I thought, given what I had done with ‘LionHeart’ and all of that, I was going to have an opportunity to do more. But getting there, I realised the kind of support that obviously CANEX is bringing on board was not something I could find in Hollywood.”

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She further elaborated that Hollywood’s interest was largely self-serving, aiming to reshape her narratives to fit their perspectives of Africa. “They wanted what I had but for their benefit. It was all about their story. Even if it was our story, it had to be more authentic to their understanding of whatever Africa is because they had a lot of literature in their archives,” Nnaji explained.

Despite the allure of Hollywood, Nnaji revealed that she had the opportunity to move there years ago but chose to remain in Nigeria to help develop Nollywood. This decision highlights her commitment to the growth and recognition of African cinema on the global stage.