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Genevieve Nnaji says Hollywood made her feel like a 'commodity' after 'Lionheart'

The actress says that despite the success of Lionheart, she didn't find the type of support she needed in Hollywood to do more at the time.

The actress Genevieve Nnaji [Afreximbank]

The actress, 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 program through which it provides support, including financial support for trade and investment in Africa's creative sector, spoke on how she first realised she was a commodity in Hollywood.

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,” she said.

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.”

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She also said during the secession that she could have gone to Hollywood years ago but decided to stay back to contribute to the development of Nollywood.

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,” she said.

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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 full panel session below (It starts at 1:26:50):

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