Ever wonder why Nollywood queen Genevieve Nnaji isn’t dominating Hollywood after her huge Netflix hit Lionheart? Well, she’s finally opened up, and trust me, the tea is piping hot.

In a candid session at the 2024 AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum, Genevieve, looking every bit the star she is, got real about her Hollywood experience after Lionheart made waves. You’d think, with a Netflix deal rumored at $3.8 million, doors would fly open in Hollywood, right? Not quite.

“For the first time, I realized I was a commodity,” Genevieve confessed. “I thought, you know, given what I had done with Lionheart, 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 didn’t hold back, spilling how Hollywood was more interested in her for their own gain. “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.”

Genevieve Nnaji.

Yikes. Imagine thinking you’re about to collaborate, only to find out you’re being used to tick a box.

Genevieve could have jumped to Hollywood long ago but chose to stay and build Nollywood instead. “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. I’ve always believed 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 passionately.

And boy, did she make the right call. When the pandemic hit, everything changed. Hollywood might have turned a cold shoulder, but the world started looking at Africa differently. “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 then Covid happened, and the worlds switched at that point and Africa sort of became it,” she added.

Check out the full panel session below to hear more from the queen herself (it starts at 1:26:50).

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