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gennyGenevieve Nnaji (1979- ) is a Nigerian actress, widely seen as the top actress in Nollywood, a superstar even. She is well-known not just in Nigeria but across English-speaking Africa, if not beyond.

She is also, according to this blog, the most beautiful actress in Nigeria. I am hardly alone in that opinion. I have read that she has bad skin and duck feet, but she is a beauty to me!

In 2004 she was the face of Lux soap in Nigeria. Her face appeared on billboards across the country.

She has appeared in dozens of films, at least 80. Nollywood films take about a month to make and most go straight to video. They seem to run about 90 minutes.

As of this writing (January 2009) you can see some of her films on YouTube – cut up into ten-minute pieces (the longest video YouTube allows). I do not remember seeing her films there a year ago and I doubt they will still be there a year from now. So go see her while you have the chance! She acts in English.

I have not seen any of her films all the way through yet, so I do not know how much of her stardom is due to her charm and beauty and how much to her acting talent.

When she went to Sierra Leone after the war the people there were overjoyed to see her, like she was a visiting princess or something. People love her in Ghana too.

Well, not everyone loves her. Most people tend to either love her or hate her. It is hard to be in the middle about her.

Her parents had a hard time accepting her decision to become an actress. Acting is not a universally respected profession in Nigeria, not like law or engineering. All the stories in the press about the private lives of Nollywood stars does not help either – it makes acting seem like an immoral way of life. So much so that people urge Nnaji to turn to God!

She does believe in God – she is Catholic. In fact, she says this is what God wants her to do now in her life. Part of how she knows it was God’s will is that her father, who has always been so strict, surprisingly let her go into acting!

At the beginning it was hard: she was a nobody who had to prove her talent. But now her troubles are those of being famous: the press that tries to tear her down and tell the world all about her private life, even spreading false stories about her.

She had a child at 17 and one year she was not allowed to make any films at all – neither of which were able to sink her star.

In addition to acting, she came out with some songs, like “No More”, and a line of clothing called Sainte Genevieve.

She is an Igbo. She was born in her mother’s hometown in Imo state but grew up in Lagos.

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