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Why I Think Genevieve Nnaji Is Just Half Of A Yellow Sun

Just like Beyoncé, I think Genevieve Nnaji is one Nigerian celebrity that enjoys the status of some sort of deity and should be criticized with caution, as she often has loyal fans waiting to slay anybody that dares to disparage her with the ferocity reminiscent of the Beyhive. Let me first of all state that I am not big on Nollywood for very obvious reasons; the story lines are often shallow and the acting is also usually mediocre, except for a few good names. In general, as a people, Nigerians are tolerant of mediocrity. We accept it and have very low standards for everything; this is why, for instance, we praise our state governors for paying salaries and for constructing roads, obligations they are owe it to their people to execute in the first place.

Anyway, back to Genevieve Nnaji whom I really do like… She rose to the top of the stakes steadily before our eyes. There was that ban that happened, in which the marketers tried to cut a few of the Nollywood ‘divas’ down to size, a circumstance that forced Ms. Nnaji and a few of her colleagues to take a hiatus. If you ask me, this was the best thing to have happened to her. She returned at the end of the ban a total star. It is my belief that she probably went to a finishing school in faraway lands and they morphed her into a star. She learned how to dress, how to walk, how to talk and how to generally conduct herself like a star that she is now.

But talent, however, is another story.

I talked about mediocrity earlier. I’d like to add that we find ways to excuse not doing things excellently. I remember ordering stuff from a store that prides itself as Nigeria’s leading online store a while back, and while I was there, I ordered some other stuff from a UK store also. In less than a week, the UK store delivered my purchase to me. But two weeks later, I was still trading emails with the Nigerian store, trying to find out why my shoes had still not been delivered. At the time, I was resenting the fact that I paid online and did not choose the “Payment upon delivery” option. I eventually got on the phone with a customer care person of the store, and when I told her that a UK store had already delivered what I ordered from them on the same day I made a purchase from them, she responded with a terse “Sir, that is the UK. You don’t expect us to match them. We are in Nigeria after all, there is the Nigerian factor.” I was so mad that I had to hang up so as not to insult her ancestors. This phrase is what we use to excuse mediocrity in all sectors of our national life.

So then, there I was with my friends, and I mentioned casually that I didn’t think Genny was a great actress, but an okay actress; that yes, amongst her peers, she is one of the few who understands how to be a star, but as per being a great actress? Naaa! My friends came for my head with vociferous proclamations of her as the thespian queen of Africa and told me in very colorful language that I was silly for daring to denigrate their princess. We argued back and forth a few times about the issue and I eventually gave up when I realized that I wasn’t going to be heard amongst these adoring fans of Ms. Nnaji. I was however trying to establish to my friends the point that Genny is simply a one-eyed man in the land of blind men. She is a good actress, not a great one – as she is so often extolled to be – but in an industry filled with names like Chika Ike (sorry, I could not resist. lol) and Mona Lisa Chinda (why does that woman even act?), Genevieve shines bright like a diamond.

Let me draw our minds back to the screen adaptation of the bestselling novel, Half Of A Yellow Sun. It is one of the most impactful books ever written, by a very iconic Nigerian writer. And when talk about the movie adaptation came around, the anticipation was high. Nearly everybody I knew and didn’t know wanted to see the movie, especially those of us who had read the book before then. And the whole controversy with the censors’ board further heightened the fever. In the news reports leading up to the release of the movie, we read that Genevieve was going to star in the movie as the professor of medicine who lives by her own rules.

Alas! I was disappointed. The movie failed, in my opinion. The story was shabbily told and the characters were quite shallow. Most importantly, Genevieve fell flat on her face with her efforts to bring life to the character of Ms. Adebayo. Her casting in that role, alongside some other great actors, finally exposed Genny as a not-so-fantastic actor. My friends argued that the character was a bland one, and that there was not much anyone could do about it. I told them that that is what acting is about – bringing life to a character.

So, one of my friends then asked me, “Oya, bizi body, who are the great actresses in Nollywood? Name them!” And I began mentally scratching my head, as I had not seen very many Nigerian movies to make an honest assessment. However, after a few seconds, I recalled a name I should have said at once – Nse Ikpe-Etim. They scoffed. I mentioned Blessing Effiom, Joke Sylva, and Clarion Chukwura Abiola, but then, I need to see these women in more roles to be able to make an honest assessment anyway. But they wouldn’t back down, these Genevievites. They simply wouldn’t agree with me that Ms. Nnaji is anything short of magic on the silver screen. So, I turned to my Orijin, nodded along to Korede Bello’s Godwin, and let the matter rest.

Written by Dennis Macaulay


About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

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57 comments

  1. *doing a double-take* This is MyMindSnaps, right? Home of Walter, who adores Genny Nnaji with a passion that rivals the Beyhive members? And he allowed this Dennis Macaulay a voice of such impudence on his blog? lol. the world truly is coming to an end.

  2. Hahaha@Mandy. That’s exactly what I thought. I love me some Genny sha but I do agree with the writer. She isn’t a fantastic actress. Better than monalisa (hahaha that one is a disaster) but not as good as Nse. Mediocrity in Naija sha.. We shall prevail someday!

  3. Wait o! Walter let you put this up here!! That’s scary. I’m sure he’s got something up his sleeves.

    I totally agree with you on Genevieve tho…she’s good…not great. …n tho I’m not big on Nollywood movies, I didn’t regret those of them that starred Nse-Ekpe Etim. That lady is an awesome actress! 🙂

    I’d better stop before Walter unleashes his wrath.

    • Dennis Macauley

      Omoni Oboli is not bad too! I saw “Being Mrs Eliiot” at the cinema and I did not regret the 1500 I paid

  4. Wait, how many scenes did that Miss Adebayo have in the movie sef?.

    • Dennis Macauley

      OC Ukeje had just one scene and he did justice to it! Genny fell flat on her face. Plus a little birdie whispered to me that there were more scenes but the director cut them during post production because of her acting

      • Ok, comparing OC Ukeje’s one-minute scene which seemed very flat to me to Genny’s portrayal of Ms. Adebayo now just smacks of spite and a lack of objectivity. Okeje was not better than Nnaji by any stretch at all. Did you even watch her well in that movie? Did you really? She wasn’t flat in her performance at all. If anybody was flat, point those fingers at Okeje biko. Haba!

      • shakespeareanwalter

        Dennis, perhaps you need to go rewatch that scene where Chiwetel’s character and Genny’s were having a fight over the fact that the Igbos were getting slaughtered. She was phenomenal there abeg. And I agree with Dubem. Nawa for that your comparison of UC Okeje’s scene and Genny’s… Okeje was not even memorable in the part he played.

  5. I totally agree, genny is good but so overrated! In half of a yellow sun, she literally struggled and was plastic with her role, even her voice was |”shaky” maybe she was intimidated by good acting when she saw thandie deliver her lines. For me how I judge a good actress is your ability to star with good actors and be able to keep up and how you bring your character to life! in nollywood when it comes to great actresses, I pick mercy Johnson and rita dominic, no?

  6. I don’t even know what to say.

    They all don’t look great to me

    #sorry

  7. Blessing Effiom can’t act. But she’s a good producer.

    Tonto Dike used to be good before she became an attention hoe and tattoo parlour.

    Genevieve is good but not versatile enough. Never has been. I think that the Kainene role should have gone to her, though; there’s a haughtiness to that character that Genny would have pulled off.

    • Your analysis about Genny pulling off Kainene is so on-point. I remember a lot of people back then were campaigning for Olanna for her. But I’d read the book, and I thought Kainene was a better fit. About her versatility, I don’t think she’s been challenged enough by the scripts she gets to prove that. I believe that woman has range that the right role will unleash.

    • shakespeareanwalter

      Tonto Dike? Really? How did she even get on this dialogue about good actresses bikonu? LOL

  8. Can we settle down and ask ourselves this: ‘What about the actors?’ You know, the men who star in these roles opposite the women…

  9. Chere Dennis! What has walter done to u??????….. I am still walking round nollywood and haven’t seen that one actress I can say that truly brings a character to life…..Nse is trying though bt dt movie she starred in with Funke Akindele was a Low blow……Genevieve is just on past glory…..Mercy Johnson,dnt even get me started…..Is anyone 4getting Omotola,Stella,Patience

    • shakespeareanwalter

      I keep hearing about that Nse’s forray with Funke Akindele and I shudder. I hear the movie was mega-proportionally bad. To just avoid the ruination of my impression of Nse, i think I won’t even think about watching that film.

  10. Just one question from me. Uchenna Walter Ude ikwuru gini for this matter?

    Now my comment:

    pls d fella who mentioned tonto and Mercy MUST be high on something really cheap while typing that comment. I want to believe now dat u r no longer in cloud highness u see u error and u want to apologise. So u r welcome apology accepted.

    Then thank u writer for mentioning Nse’s name. Dat lady can act period. Her movies r like German cars esp mercedes,it has second hand value. Its rewatchable unlike our Chinese car naija films. Watch and throway.

    • shakespeareanwalter

      ‘I want to believe now dat u r no longer in cloud highness u see u error and u want to apologise. So u r welcome apology accepted.’

      Hahahahahahahahahahahahaa!!! This part of this comment just killed me.

  11. Aha! Someone finally sees what I have been about all these years! Genny really isn’t all that! Most certainly overhyped!
    *from afar* Hi,Wally!!

  12. You don’t watch Nigerian movies, yet you come out to say rubbish about the Nigerian movie industry, that it is a mediocre one… Go and write your own script and show us what a good movie should look like.

  13. Obinna chill na no be fight. Na jus observation. U fit agree or disagree. Every one can’t be in d movie industry to know a good movie or good actors. The eye is a wonderful tool. Besides movie and novel critics are usually pple who can’t make a movie or write a novel if their lives depended on it. Yet, they r even paid to criticise d handiwork of someone.

    Hope u r having a nice day dis Monday morning. I know it can b crazy

  14. Ahahahaha. Walter…
    Walter…
    Walter…
    Say something

  15. Adeleke Julianah

    The only thing I know I adore Genevieve for, is the fact that she’s a striking image of my mum in her younger years. They’re so alike. That’s all.

  16. I’m not a nollywood fan but whenever I see a movie with Nse in it, I look forward to seeing it. To the Genevieve issue, Nigerians have always preferred familiar grounds to testing new waters. So you wouldn’t blame a director who would prefer splashing Genevieve’s face on his movie poster to an unknown actor.
    If the face sells, splash it!

  17. Nse Ikpe-Etim and some older generation actresses that I can’t remember their acting aren’t mediocre. The Joke Silvas of this world too. Patience Ozokwor is also up there.

  18. This Dennis Macauley dude just spoke my mind. Sorry, Walt. That’s just how I feel about G.

  19. Please who?
    What is a Mercy Johnson?

    Oopps! I actually meant who is Mercy Johnson? The one I know that we all know or is there another?

    #askingForMyphone

  20. Cheesy said Tonto used to be a good actress. Please, any day you see me just waka pass. You’ve offended the gods.
    I think Genny is good, really good, and this post is sacrilegious, but Nse Ikpe-Etim is bae, and I’d pick her (and only her!) over Genny. Joke Sylva is in a class all her own. Comparing her to Genevieve is like comparing Merryl Streep and, say, Charlize Theron.
    That said, anyone who says Genny’s name in the same breath as Tonto’s deserves a deliberate butchering (watch your back Cheesy!)
    Yeah, I guess that’s my two dimes. Carry on.

    • shakespeareanwalter

      Dozie, I’m right there with you, feeling scandalized at the audacity of putting Genny and Tonto in the same sentence. I mean, seriously! *glaring at Cheesy* These kinds of comments require absolution rites for the gods.

  21. Chineke! How I miss all these yesterday? Chai. I’ll still say my mind though. Genny is a great actress, she is not mediocre, not in my eyes and it’s not because I worship her, I don’t. Most of us say we don’t really watch Nollywood but we can at least watch those that’s got some names attached to the script. Genny, Nse and Omoli does it for me. I do not want to include Joke Silva in that list because like dozie said, she is totally in a higher class of her own. Dennis be just there, sipping orijin and stirring controversy.

  22. This Dennis that does not watch Naija movies yet an expert in classifying which artist is mediocre or not. I won’t even bother joining issues with you. MTSCHEW!! Biko, go back to your Orijin…

  23. I don’t think you can evaluate an actor based on three scenes in which she uttered three lines. Even at that, I think Genevieve was very convincing pretending to be a drunk in the scene with Chiwetel. In order to evaluate her as an actress, you need to view a considerable amount of her work . May I kindly suggest that you watch these movies Keeping Faith, Ijele, Ije, Power of Love, and Piece of Flesh among others. Then you can draw your conclusions.

  24. Walter this is my first time commenting on this blog but pls do well to watch Blood Sisters that starred Genny and omo T as sisters and see the justice Genny did to that movie

    • shakespeareanwalter

      Oh I’ve seen it. And I don’t have to be convinced of Genny’s acting prowess. I’m a believer already.

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