Genevieve Nnaji on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight Show
GST : Everybody please say hello to Genevieve Nnaji ! (rapturous applause)
GST : How are you?
G. Nnaji : Hi, very well, thank you for having me.
GST : Please have your seat. Welcome to the program.
G. Nnaji : Thank you.
GST : Congratulations on the film!
G. Nnaji : Thank you.
GST : And congratulations on finally having a reasonable work schedule.
G. Nnaji : (laughs) one film a year, yes, that’s reasonable.
GST : What was it…at your most time what were you doing?
G. Nnaji : Umm, let’s say, let’s just say I was on at least two sets a month, every month.
GST : That’s a lot of filming. Tell us about this film here, People haven’t seen it yet?
G. Nnaji : Oh, Ehm, half of a yellow sun is actually based on a book; “Half of a yellow sun” is the title of the book. It was written by Chimamanda Adichie, an award writer, and she’s Nigerian. It’s actually based on the Biafran war that happened in Nigeria. So it’s a Nigerian story. And I’m proud that it was shot in Nigeria as well.
GST : Just think about when this film is set, at a time in a period tumult is coming. Uhm, and it was a time in Africa where it was starting to get its independence– different countries are getting independence. It was a really interesting time on the continent. Is that reflected in the film as well?
G. Nnaji : You know what? The interesting thing is that I learnt a lot about the past and our challenges from this present movie that I did. Because, it’s a book and I knew about the film before I read the book. And I read the book and then I learned a lot about our struggles, especially as easterners. I am from the East, we are called the Igbo tribe. And, you know, we were greatly involved in the war.
And so you do realize that there were a lot of restrictions which aren’t there now. And as children we weren’t told, probably, …I think our parents tried to shield us from the truth that they faced. I think is a good thing if we knew a bit of our history, and yeah, hopefully, that would be cultivated into the schools.
GST : I know with my experience traveling in certain parts of the world, how important it is for people to hear their own voice and see themselves reflected in Cinema.
G. Nnaji : Which is probably why Nollywood is successful because, as you know, we Africans–black people–we are extremely dramatic and so we tell our stories in a dramatic way. It’s amazing how every African can identify with that, and even with the stories that we tell.
GST : Is there a confidence that you find when you are in somebody else’s skin?
G. Nnaji : Yes ! Yah!
GST : And do you learn about yourself while going through that process?
G. Nnaji : I learned about a lot of things that I can do and a lot of expressions that I can actually bring out. And I see that, maybe, there’s extreme rage that I don’t even know that I had. You know, because the script says “get angry”, and I really really do get mad? And it’s, you know, it’s like where did that come from? Okay, maybe, it’s that girl from then—secondary school–so yes, that happens.
GST : The Oprah thing was pretty important, right? She declared that people need to know you, right? When you first got that call, what did you think?
G. Nnaji : It’s funny how things don’t dawn on me until after the fact. I was a bit skeptical. I was like, “how did Oprah know about me? Who told her?…
GST : Were you worried about all the questions?
G. Nnaji : Yeah, I was asking all kinds of questions,…but you know… I felt extremely fortunate.
GST : You’re always private about your life, I mean, you don’t talk about your kid. You keep a lot of that stuff separate. Is it a prying in the industry?
G. Nnaji : It is!
GST : Yah!
G. Nnaji : It’s prying in people.
GST : It’s prying in people?
G. Nnaji : Yes!
GST : Nigerians?
G. Nnaji : Uh-huh
GST : How prying?
G. Nnaji : (laughs) Well, they would mind your business even if you were not a celebrity. So imagine if you were?
GST : Is it the same for men as well there?
G. Nnaji : I don’t know! Men get away with a lot.
GST : They do?
G. Nnaji : Uh-huh
GST : What did you mean? What’s the limit?
G. Nnaji : You know !
GST : Well I know because…But I’m not in the Nigerian film business. So I know what I try to get away with, and I don’t often.
G. Nnaji : I think they are easy on men, because, you know, they say, “it’s a man’s world.” So that’s true to an extent. But I realized that things wouldn’t change if we don’t come together as one if that is possible. If you don’t do your bid as an individual to make a difference in someone’s life.
And I as a person took it upon myself to start a foundation to help the girl-child and, you know, help people, especially some less privileged children–female children–between the ages of 18 and 24 help find their feet in the world, just because it’s difficult for women sometimes.
GST : What a pleasure. Thank you for coming today.
G. Nnaji : Oh thank you !
This transcript was brought to you courtesy of CBC News Network and the team @ammgospel Media. For more information, contact: email@example.com