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Genevieve Nnaji: “We should change the way we tell our stories”

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Genevieve Nnaji sweeps into her office in the Lekki Phase 1 development on Lagos Island, offers a diffident hello to the folks in the lobby, and skips up the stairs. After greeting her disappearing form, the occupants of the reception area return their gaze to a Nollywood film in Yoruba playing on a screen hanging on the wall. It is the type of melodrama that made Nnaji’s name in Nigeria and around the continent. But over the past few years, Nollywood’s lead actress has avoided this kind of script.

“When I was very prominent in the film industry, I played all sort of characters,” Nnaji says, seated with her manager in the small but comfy office. “Mum, daughter, deaf, dumb, blind, young, in school, wicked, kind – [I’ve] done it all. Even a mad woman. But how do you make things more interesting?” She pauses, then answers her own question: “It’s really by the twists and turns. People are going to tell the same Romeo and Juliet story but what angle do you tell it from? I think that is what Nollywood needs. We have to be more creative in the way we tell our stories.”

After a good five years in which she was frequently absent from Nollywood screens, the actress has moved into production in order to make the kinds of film she wants to see. Her first film as a producer – in which she also stars opposite Oris Erhuero, with Chioma Omeruah and Majid Michel in supporting roles – was Road to Yesterday. Released in November 2015, it follows a couple as they try to mend their marriage on a road trip to a relative’s funeral. It is a generic story about matrimony, but the film tells it differently and acquires a psychological edge by the denouement. Reactions were mixed, but critics picked out the cinematography – including sweeping drone-shots of Lagos – and an original twist in the plot as worthy of praise, commending Nnaji for daring to break out of the familiar Nollywood formula.

Road To Yesterday was directed by Ishaya Bako, a graduate of the London Film School who acquired some notoriety for his 2012 political documentary Fuelling Poverty, which was banned by the censorship board in Nigeria. Bako belongs to a newer set of filmmakers – mostly young and film-school-educated – who have caused some turbulence in the film industry, fuelling talk of New Nollywood and Old Nollywood. Nnaji says this is meaningless: “People come in, and we should expect to grow younger artists. Every industry should transcend to the next level. There is nothing like New Nollywood or Old Nollywood. There is only continuation.”
Nnaji’s decision to produce her own films comes after a career where she has been both the darling of Nollywood and a pariah.

“I have always been selective,” she says. “The reason it seems like I did more back then is because there were a lot more choices. That seems to have died in the past few years. We are changing the kind of stories we tell when we should be changing the way we tell them.”

It is hard not to see this as criticism of a section of newer filmmakers who have been raised on Hollywood flicks and now seek to recreate them in Nigeria. “I saw quite a lot of stories with James Bond wannabes,” she responds. “They were not authentic to who we are as Nigerians and Africans. I am not buying it, so I doubt [other] people will. And for me it gets to a point when it’s no longer about the money. It’s about craft. I would not be part of a production I don’t believe in my heart.”

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Recently, eschewing Nollywood was her choice, but back in 2004 the Actors Guild of Nigeria banned her and several of her peers from working, claiming they were asking exorbitant fees. “When a group says ‘You are done for’ and pretty much pulls the rug from under your feet… it was at that point I knew I could survive without the industry for a bit,” she says.

She has made forays into music, a clothing line and product endorsement, earning a reported N20m ($63,000) as the face of Lux. These days she’s into real estate – “that’s my nine to five” – but beneath her graciousness, she seems perplexed by the banning experience. It was a long time ago but it wounded her. Nevertheless, she has now moved on.

Nnaji was a child actor, starring in the popular television soap Ripples, but her middle-class family expected her to study to become a lawyer. She was drawn back into acting when she ran into an old, now famous, friend who was part of Ripples and who recognised her almost a decade after she left the show. He invited her for an audition. “I lied about where I was going,” she says. “I think I did very well because I got the biggest cameor ole.”She laughs a short, self- deprecatory laugh.

Her days of cameos were over shortly after getting that role in Most Wanted, a 1998 Nollywood action flick with female heroines, modelled on the US’s Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith vehicle Set It Off. Fifteen years later, however, after star- ring in numerous films, Nnaji accepted to play a cameo role again – in the 2013, Biyi Bandele-directed adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Half of a Yellow Sun. While the film was in production, reports that British actress Thandie Newton and American Anika Noni Rose would be playing the twin sisters central to the story were met with a negative reaction in Nigeria. A Nigerian ought to play the lead role, Nnaji’s fans said, and who else but the queen of Nigerian cinema, who is Igbo to boot?

Upon release, foreign reviews ranged from harsh to middling while local critics were either forgiving or hostile. The Nigerian actor OC Ukeje complained that a film he had a bigger role in was ignored for his brief showing in Half of a Yellow Sun. Nnaji’s performance was pooh-poohed by the Nigerian public. What did she think of the response?

She sighs, and, for the first time during our talk, appears ruffled. “Yeah, I heard,” she says, subdued. “I took the role in Half of a Yellow Sun for a lot of personal reasons,” she explains. “The Biafra war involved my tribe. Plus, I am an actor: I don’t believe in small roles. It was a big movie, but most importantly I think I owed it to myself, my tribe and my industry to bring the story home. I took on the role and I had no regrets at the time. And I did my best as an actor which is what you do: you accept, you access and you move on. I completely understood people’s reservations. I probably shared the same. But it was a deeper agenda for me.”

NOT A COMPETITION

Part of the disappointment at Nnaji’s casting in Half of a Yellow Sun was that many Nollywood fans credited Nnaji as the one Nollywood star who would make it into Hollywood. Has the actress herself considered Tinseltown?

“Even African-Americans are still struggling to be accepted into the Hollywood circle, so what are the chances that Africans will be welcomed in?” she says. “This is not a competition with Hollywood. I hope that we take from Hollywood the necessary things that we need to be progressive. But it is not the benchmark for me, Genevieve Nnaji. The only place I’ve ever envisioned performing has been Nigeria.

What Nnaji has always wanted is to be is the best in her field, in her industry. “I want to be better than yesterday and I want to improve as the industry improves,” she says. “And the only way we’ll get there is to tell our stories in a quality format. There’s a reason we are successful – we can’t overlook that element that makes us unique. We are enough. We have the numbers. Not just in Nigeria but the whole of Africa.”

She continues: “I have done exactly what I wanted to do, which is perform and act and that is exactly what I will continue to do. Except now I’ve gone behind the scenes, and for me that’s a transition to the next level. There are other productions in the future where I wouldn’t even be in front of the camera. Being behind the scenes of Road to Yesterday was quite an experience, and I am looking forward to it again.”
How soon? “Pretty soon,” she replies.

 

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MOSES AND THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

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Genevieve Nnaji marks 20 years in Nollywood

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Veteran Nollywood actress and film maker, Genevieve Nnaji, celebrated two decades in the film sector with a reflective New Year post.
Reports had it that Nnaji shared an appreciative message to her fans, which doubled as her New Year message. This, she did through her Twitter handle @GenevieveNnaji1.
Sharing a picture of ‘Lion Heart’s script, she wrote, “As 2018 comes to an end, I mark 20 years in the art of film making. I am grateful for my life, journey, and growth thus far.’’
“I am happy I could celebrate with you through a product that embodied all of me mentally and spiritually, for all of your pleasure. I love you guys! Happy New Year,” Nnaji said.

Awards
Nnaji, who recently premiered her directorial debut, ‘Lion Heart’, began acting at the age of 19 in 1998 with the movie, ‘Most Wanted’.
The 39-year-old won the Africa Movie Academy Award (AMAA) for Best Actress in a Leading Role in 2005, making her the first actress to win the award.
Nnaji was one of the best paid actresses in Nollywood in 2009, and was the first actress to be awarded Best Actress at the 2001 City Peoples Awards.
She was also the first actress to bag the Best Actress award, by the Censors Board of Nigeria in 2003. In 2009, she was referred to as the Julia Roberts of Africa by Oprah Winfrey
In 2011, she was honoured with the Member of the Order of the Federal Republic award by the Federal Government for her contributions to Nollywood.
In 2015, Nnaji produced her first movie, ‘Road to Yesterday’, which won Best Movie Overall-West Africa at the 2016 Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA).
On Sept. 7, 2018, her directorial debut, ‘Lion Heart’, was acquired by online streaming service, Netflix; making it the first Netflix original film from Nigeria.

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Ezinihitte Celebrates Oji Mbaise Festival

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It was a celebration of culture at Ezinihitte Mbaise local government council, Imo state, southeast Nigeria as the people gathered to celebrate their yearly Oji Mbaise festival.

The event drew dignitaries from far and near, amongst whom was the vice presidential candidate of the peoples democratic party, peter obi.
The event was indeed a home coming for sons and daughters of Ife Ezinihitte.

The Oji Ezinihitte cultural festival is celebrated on the first day of january every year as a symbol of togetherness in the community
The vice presidential candidate of the peoples democratic party, peter obi and others spoke on the uniqueness of the culture.
The people of Ezinihitte Mbaise are known for celebrating the Kolanut festival since 1937, which they believe is the king of all cultures.

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Life & Style

Diversity to play a large role in Marvel’s future

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Marvel president Kevin Feige spoke on the future of Marvel Studios in a recent podcastFOLLOWING THE success of Black Panther, Hollywood has seen the true impact of diversity and the benefits of inclusivity in cinema – and Marvel have announced plans to double up on representation for future movies.
In a recent podcast, Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, revealed that diversity will play a big role in its’ future in front of and behind the cameras.
On Variety’s ‘Playback’ podcast, Feige said: “[Black Panther] is the beginning. That worked out as well [and] has encouraged us to head in the direction we were going to head in anyway. But you look at that film, it is incredible. That movie would not have been what it was if everyone sitting at the table looked like you or me. And that is true for all the movies.”
Black Panther smashed box office records worldwide and became the highest-rated Marvel movie, according to Rotten Tomatoes.

“As Marvel Studios has grown, it is the same thing, almost half-man and half-woman. That may become more women in the coming years based on the newest team members who continue to grow. We try to grow and promote in house,” said the Marvel boss.
Feige added that “when you have diverse voices, you get better stories and you get more exciting stories, you get more surprising stories. And that is something that is very clear.”
In March, Captain Marvel will be the first MCU’s female-led film co-directed by female director Anna Boden. The studio plans to expand and fulfil their diversity agenda, by including a Black Widow solo film set to be directed by Cate Shortland and they’re also reportedly developing a Shang-Chi film.

 

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“Bible Of Fashion” WWD Names Jackie Aina “Influencer Of The Year”

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Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) also known as “the bible of fashion” has named Nigerian American Jackie Aina, Influencer of the Year for 2018.


Jackie Aina is a beauty YouTuber told Entrepreneur that she “kept getting told at makeup counters that the trends she wanted to try wouldn’t work for her complexion”.


This inspired her to her start posting videos of make-up videos showing people how to use products and called on beauty companies to be all-inclusive.
Because of this, companies started to make products that appealed to women of colour.

Since then, she has partnered with MAC Cosmetics, e.l.f. Cosmetics, Too Faced, Sephora and Sigma Beauty and Artist Couture.
Aina revealed to Bustle in 2018 that she would create a cosmetics line by 2019.
Also in 2018, she was awarded the “YouTuber of the Year” at the 49th NAACP Image Awards.
Watch one of Aina’s tutorial below:

 

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Winning Thursday with Omotola (@omohtee12 ): The Young Netpreneur for the Week

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The #Netpreneur Pick for the Week is Omotola (@omohtee12 ),CEO & Founder, Toj Fabrics.

@omohtee12 sells affordable and classy men fabrics!.

Please checkout Toj_fabrics on instagram for more pictures/details and enquires.

 

 

 

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Video: Cynthia Erivo apologies for messing up US national anthem

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The Grammy and Tony Award-winning musician said she was “nervous and tired” after performing Star Spangled Banner at a basketball game.

BRITISH-NIGERIAN actress Cynthia Erivo has apologised for forgetting the words to the US national anthem at a basketball game.
The Widows star was asked to perform Star Spangled Banner at the Nets vs. Lakers game in New York on Tuesday night, but the 31-year-old stumbled over the words as she struggled to remember the lyrics. She then stopped singing altogether to regain her composure, before starting over and singing the song again.

Erivo apologised for the mishap, telling fans she was “nervous and tired”.
She tweeted: “Some people have quiet mess ups, some people mess in front of the world. I’m human and I mess up in the same way as everyone else, so if you were watching tonight, I’m sorry, I was nervous and tired. I strive for perfection, so right now no one can beat me up more than myself.”

Erivo’s performance was defended online by fans, with one user writing: “You sounded brilliant! Words are words— 90% of Americans get the words wrong to that anthem. Your gorgeous voice was all I heard. Your view of failure is what everyone’s view of perfection is. Beautiful as always.”
2019 is shaping up to be a big year for Erivo, as she recently announced plans to release an album with music label Verve Record and will star in a Harriet Tubman biopic which is set to begin production next fall.

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President Buhari congratulates oil magnet, Ikpea at 62

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President Muhammadu Buhari has felicitated with a major investor in the oil and gas industry, Dr Leemon Ikpea, as he turns 62 on December 19, 2018.
The President appreciates the grace of God, which brought Chief Ikpea from humble beginnings to the topmost rungs of the business ladder and describes him as classic example of what God can do in shaping the fortunes of human beings who trust in Him.
President Buhari rejoices with family, friends and business associates of the celebrant, noting that Lee Engineering and Construction Company, of which Chief Ikpea is Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, is one of the home-grown investors in the oil and gas industry, through dint of hard work.
The President salutes the philanthropy of Chief Ikpea, which has seen him awarding numerous scholarships and bequests, to uplift the weak and downtrodden.
The Itsekiri, Delta State born chief, President Buhari prays, will continue to serve God and humanity, in good health and be endued with long life and prosperity.

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Ugandan crowned 2018 Miss World Africa

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Miss Uganda, Quiin Abenakyo was crowned Miss World Africa at the Miss World 2018 finals in Sanya city, China.
The world’s oldest running international beauty pageant, Miss World brings together beauty queens from all over the world.

By Saturday morning, Abenakyo had made the top 12 finalists in the competition. The other competitors were from Belarus, France, Scotland, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Mauritius, Nepal, New Zealand and Thailand.
Born in eastern Uganda, the 22 year old is a graduate of business computing. She is the first Ugandan to win the Miss World Africa crown.

During the 2018 Miss Uganda competition, Abenakyo beat 21 other contestants to win the crown.
In the days leading to the final vote, Ugandans had been mobilising over social media to build support for Abenakyo.

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Linda Ikeji dumps baby daddy, then she gets lashed on Twitter

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Controversial blogger, Linda Ikeji triggered derision from fellow Nigerians on Twitter on Friday after she disclosed that she and her baby Daddy, Sholaye Jeremi have parted ways.
The 38 year old blogger had taken to her blog to give reasons why her relationship with her son’s father whom she met in Dec. 2015, didn’t work out as she had expected.
Instead of attracting sympathy, she was rebuked for her hypocrisy, of living the life of those she had criticised in the past, over issues such as pre-marital sex and single motherhood.
Ikeji, who welcomed her son, Jayce on Sept. 17 in Atlanta, Georgia, has had many Nigerians, before now, wondering the real story behind her and Jeremi.
In her `epistle,’ she shared the strength and shortcomings in her relationship with Jeremi which eventually ended after she got pregnant for their son.
” By mid-2017, we were both still single and we started seeing each other again quietly. There were times it was very intense and we talked about a future together, and there were times that I couldn’t figure out what exactly I was doing with this guy.
” We were not suited for each other. Totally different lifestyles and there was the problem of my fame so I walked away from this man a million times and he came after me a million and one times.
” No matter how much I pushed him away, he kept coming back to me, because I couldn’t find anyone else, I kept going back. Lol! So I was basically going back to my ex because I couldn’t find anyone else,” she said.
According to her, after she got pregnant everything became extremely weird between them.
“We went from talking about the pregnancy and being okay with it, to literally not talking to each other anymore.
“When I was about three months pregnant, he did come to see my parents and actually became very cool with my dad. They were literally exchanging WhatsApp messages every day.
“He later agreed to a traditional wedding which he didn’t follow through and then he switched. He began to treat me with so much hate and aggression that I and my family had to cut him off completely.
“To be honest if anybody had told me when we met three years ago, considering how deeply we cared for each other that I would fall pregnant two years later and he would completely turn his back on me for most part of my pregnancy, I never would have believed it but that’s what happened.
“I thought God sent him as my life partner but I guess he just used him as a vessel for my greatest blessing. Now his part in my story is over.This one is done and dusted,” she said.
Here are some Twitter reactions to Linda’s story:

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Winning Tuesday with Aesthetic doctor, Ifeoma Ejikeme at the Adonia Medical Clinic. : The Young Netpreneur for the Week.

New year, new skin regime
Advice and recommendations to help make your beauty resolutions a reality.If you struggle with your skin or just fancy a shakeup of your current beauty regime, then you’ve come to the right place.

Contact the wonderful aesthetic doctor, Ifeoma Ejikeme at the Adonia Medical Clinic using the below details :

Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme -Adonia Medical Clinic
General Medicine Consultant, Aesthetic Medicine Physician and Lecturer at Queen Mary’s University.London, England.

PROFESSIONAL: Dr Ejikeme doing an Obaji chemical peel

Jawline-Botox-Lips-Pigmentation-Dermal Filler-Skinfood etc

AdoniaMedicalClinic.com

Contact: 020 3858 0268

Twitter @DrEjikeme

Instagram@dr_ifeoma_ejikeme

 

 

 

 

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