- How She Took NOLLYWOOD To HOLLYWOOD
- And Gathered All The Veterans For Her Movie, LIONHEART
Star actress, Genevieve Nnaji has etched Nollywood on the world map with her latest movie, Lion Heart. The actress’ new movie becomes the first ever Nigerian movie to be acquired by Netflix, a US-based world’s leading subscription service for watching TV episodes and movies on your favorite device.
Netflix acquired the exclusive. rights to the Nigerian actress and producer Genevieve Nnaji‘s movie Lionheart, prior to its Toronto premiere and the deal is estimated to be worth over $2 million. Lionheart, which premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The movie stars Nkem Owoh, Pete Edochie, Onyeka Onwenu, st O. Kanayo, Kalu Ikeagwu, Peter “Mr. P” Okoye and more, and this would be Genevieve’s directorial debut.
The movie tells the story of Genevieve who plays Adaeze, a level-headed executive in her father’s bus company, Lionheart Transport. Time and again, Adaeze has proven her keen ability to make a profit and to manage the most heated situations. But when her father falls ill, both her and her rival are passed over in favor of Adaeze’s less-than-suave uncle, Godswill. “Lionheart” marks the first Netflix original film from Nigeria. The film, which aside from being her directorial debut, has a stellar cast of seasoned stars like Genevieve Nnaji, Chika Okpala, Steve Eboh, Ngozi Ezeonu, Pete Edochie, Kanayo O Kanayo, Onyeka Onwenu, Nkem Owoh, Kalu Ikeagwu, Jemima Osunde, Yakubu Mohammed and Sani Muazu.
The movie also stars music acts singer, Phyno and Peter Okoye who made their acting debut in the movie. Genevieve who ruled the movie scene for over a decade went hiatus few years ago but she returned with a bang in 2015 when she produced her first movie titled Road to Yesterday, a movie that clinched several local and international awards. Since the success of her debut as a producer, she hasn’t relented. She is arguably the biggest movie export in Nigeria.
The success of Genevieve Nnaji’s career didn’t just start. It has always been a back to back success, prior to the efforts she put into doing what she knows how to do best.
Genevieve Nnaji was born in Mbaise in the late 70s but had her education in Lagos. She made her acting debut as a child actress in the 90s soap opera “Ripples” when she was just 8 years. During that period, she also featured in Omo detergent as well as Pronto Beverage advertisements.
She, however, made her Nollywood debut in the film “Most Wanted”.
She was only 19. But her breakthrough came in 2002 when she acted in Sharon Stone in 2002. Nnaji would go to act the epic film, Ijele and Mark of the Beast. In 2003, Nnaji opened the first website by a Nigerian actor, she also became the first actress to be awarded Best Actress by the Censors Board of Nigeria.
In 2004, she became the popular face of Lux soap. That same year, she was awarded a singing contract by a Ghanaian record label for an album titled One Logologo Line.
In 2005, she became the first actress to win the Africa Movie Academy Award (AMAA) for the Best Actress in a leading role.
In 2008, she launched her clothing line St. Genevieve. In May 2010, she was chosen as the official face of MUD in Nigeria.
The following year, the Goodluck Jonathan administration honoured her as a member of the order of the Federal Republic.
In 2009, she featured in Oprah Winfrey’s special episode: Meet the famous people in the world. Oprah Winfrey described her as the “Julia Roberts of Africa”. She also added several ambassadorial appointments
to her feathers.
Now, this year 2018 September, her directional debut “Lion Heart” became the first Nollywood film to be bought by the online streaming service, Netflix, an American over-the-top media services provider, headquartered in Los Gatos, California founded in 1997 by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph in Scotts Valley, California, the company’s primary business is its subscription-based streaming service, which offers online streaming of a library of films and television programs including those produced in-house.
Without any iota of doubt, this season has indeed been a good time for the sexiest, award-winning screen diva, Genevieve Nnaji and the entire movie industry as the recognition has catapulted the glory of the industry, Nollywood into another level, which is a global recognition of Nigeria movie.
According to Genevieve Nnaji, the recent acquisition of her directorial debut “Lion Heart” by American film sharing site, Netflix is a vindication for the local movie industry. Nollywood. She also shared her excitement on BBC’s Newsday Programme, following the successful premiere of Lion Heart at the recent Tiff Festival and its purchase by Netflix, making it the first original film from Nigeria to be on the platform.
In her words, “to be honest, I was happy for the country, I was happy for the industry, I forgot about me because I really didn’t set out to do a movie about Genevieve. It wasn’t a selfish endeavour, I really wanted something good and positive to come out of the industry finally, that was fulfilling and vindicating at the same time.
On the message she is trying to pass across in the movie, she explains. “Lion Heart is just an inspiring story about family values, succession, wanted to touch on women and the role they play in the society, especially in the workplace, especially in an industry dominated by men and their challenges. But most importantly, we wanted to put across the values that we actually share as Africans and as Nollywood and everything that we embody as an industry in just one story and I think Lion Heart provided us with that environment”.
She says it was so important to get the message across, “today, in the world that we live in, we seem to be losing our identity as Africans and as filmmakers and I just wanted to kind of go back and revamp and put forward what I know I have been able to learn in my 20 years of being in the industry as an actor. Just things that I thought, with probable places that I felt we haven’t put our messages across, and so I just went with my gut feelings and tried to be as trust and authentic to myself as possible”.
Genevieve also speaks on drawing on personal experience, “yes, just being a woman trying to do business in Nigeria, especially even with “Lion Heart”, we tried to partner with a few people, that didn’t work out, we pretty much just channeled all our frustration into the film, it is easier to draw inspiration from experience, she concludes.
Set in South East Nigeria, Lion Heart tells the story of a young woman, Adaeze Obiagu (Genevieve), who becomes saddled with the responsibility of running her sick father’s business under the suffocating supervision of an intensely crude and eccentric Uncle. Her competing business instincts and family obligations become a catalyst for drastic change not everyone is ready to embrace.
A story about hard-nosed rivalry and often contrarian efforts to rescue an ailing business, LionHeart is “equal parts family drama, female empowerment and a humorous charmer, assembled a cast of Nigeria’s most respected and revered screen icons including Pete Edochie, Nkem Owoh, Onyeka Onwenu, Kanayo O. Kanayo, Chika Okpala, Kalu Ikeagwu, Sanni Mu’azu, Yakubu Mohammed, Ngozi Ezeonu, Peter Okoye (P-Square) and Chibuzor Azubuike among others.
The film debuted at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and has also been nominated for the Grolsch people’s choice award.