Genevieve Nnaji has paid her dues as a top-rated actress in Nollywood. She has also delved into music, modelling and fashion. Despite attaining the age 30, the single mother of one says she is not under any pressure to get married. She spoke with, on her absence from the screen and the things that have been taken her time.

What does hitting 30 feels like?

I feel as always. Age is just a number.

You’ve been acting for close to 11 years. What have you gained from your exposure?

It has open doors and given me a sense of fulfilment. I’m glad I’ve been able to do what I have done so far. It has kept me grounded and I must say it’s been fun. I’m grateful for it.

You started with acting; then, moved to music, and then modelling. Now, another creative part of you is about to be brought to the fore in fashion. How does all these come together? Where do you get your inspiration from, or is it a case of doing what others are doing?

No, not at all. I’ll say it’s always been there. What happens is that I unveil them one at a time. I believe there is time for everything. There is still more I am capable of that you are unaware of, but with time, you’d probably know or you may never know.

Acting came first. It’s not really my major talent, but it was the first thing that I did. I love music too. Well, the album came, but that’s not my stuff. That’s not the best I can do. Fashion, I love. I’ve been designing since I was in primary school. For me, fashion is fun. It’s a way of relaxing for me. I enjoy it. And it’s more of a hobby than work. I’m taking my time doing it. I’m relaxed doing my own design for my clients and people who have similar taste and mindset with me.

About a year ago you collaborated with a well-known designer to launch St. Genevieve clothing line. Now, you and another very famous designer are collaborating and coming up with another thing.

What is it all about?

It’s the same thing. St Genevieve is a brand. The brand is just about my designs and me. Anybody can make my outfits as long as you have the talents for sewing and I believe I’ve worked with the best so far, and I’m sure I’m going to work with a lot more people. All I’m doing here is selling my creative designs.

Yes, I’m coming out with Zizi Cardow now. Apart from the fact that I love her as a person, she is a very creative person. I love her finishing as well, and I must also add that Iconola, whom I worked with last year, also has finishing. I’m glad to be collaborating with Zizi this year and we are moving on.

Is that the end of your relationship with Iconola then?

For now yes. If anything is to come up in the future, you’ll know. Now, I’m with Zizi. It’s refreshing to be doing this with Zizi because she is extremely creative. The way she grasps everything is amazing.

What inspires your designs?

They come to me. I sit and come up with something and then I give it to her to sew. I can’t sew a button to save my life.

Lets go back to acting, what’s responsible for your absence from the screen?

I’m still in the industry. I’m just a bit stricter in the selection of scripts. I think everybody needs to grow to that point where they have to make up their mind what they want, especially from their job.

What I want is creativity and professionalism. I think that should reflect in the kind of movies I appear in. I’m very selective; I’m now into so many things that a script must be really good for me to take part in it?

Are you working on any movie now?

I’m not working now. I’ve been reading some scripts, trying to settle for something. If I don’t see any one that I like, then I won’t work.

When was the last time you did a job?

That was April last year. It’s called Bursting Lose.

What will get you working like before?

Creativity. It doesn’t have to stress me. It could be a simple story, simple character. Creativity from the person that is writing is key. I like a complete work, something that has a beginning, middle and end. Even if it’s been done before, the thing is how differently can you make it your own.

One of the major complaints of Nollywood viewers is lack of content and sometimes, unprofessionalism on the part of the artistes. Now that Ghanaians are gradually taking over the industry, what are you and your colleagues doing to improve your movies?

I don’t think Ghana is moving in. We are the ones inviting them to be a part of what we are doing here. I see actors as contractors. If I’m here and Ghana calls me to come and do a movie, I don’t see that as anybody’s business. It is the business of the producer and me. And I think actors should have the right to work wherever they choose to, whether Nollywood, Bollywood, Hollywood or whatever wood. It’s an open market. We all have one thing in common, and that is acting.

Actors from other African countries cornered this year’s AMAA. How do you feel about this?

It’s not about me as a practitioner; we have to be practical here. I haven’t seen some of those movies that were awarded, and so I am not in the best position to judge. I don’t see anything wrong in bringing in other markets as long as they are within Africa. This is my own take. Being a nominee is already an award. You are already recognised for your good works. When it comes to who takes the cake, I think we have to be professional, honest and truthful and give honour to whom it is due. Bias shouldn’t come to play here. I’m not saying it did at AMAA, but that is how it should be treated. I have no qualms with AMAA inviting other people

What about the issue of interference of marketers?

I don’t know what they are doing. I’m not a marketer or producer. I’m an actor. My own is to be called when the whole production has been put together, but still, I still try to give my honest advice wherever necessary. I also pray that all works well. There is nothing more I can do until I am ready to go behind the scene, which I am not ready to do for now.

People believe being a producer is where the money is.

I didn’t come into this profession for the money in the first place. The money came to me. I’m here for the passion and that is still what drives me. For me, when I’m bored with the passion, maybe I’ll move in for the money.

Can you name one actor or actress that have the same passion with you?

I can’t name any now. I don’t really know these people.

How would you describe a professional?

A professional is someone who puts his/her job first. Every other thing is then negotiated. I think if you love your job, it will love you back in some way without you losing a finger.

Last year, there were rumours about you collecting money from a Ghanaian movie producer and not going for the job.

I don’t even want to talk about it because I think just having my name attached to that production has given it enough publicity. So, I will not want to honour it more, by speaking about it again. It’s in the past. It’s like every other business. There is nothing to resolve. There was no deal or contract. It’s like every other script. It’s either I like it or not. And if I don’t like it, I drop it. Whatever you go to tell the world is your business. The point is if you couldn’t get me on your job you are the loser.

You are 30, but looks younger. What’s the secret?

I guess its good genes?

Good genes from dad or mum?

From both of them.

Did your parents support your acting from the outset?

Well, I won’t say it was immediately. With time, they realised that it was something I really loved and was passionate about. Right now, they are my best fans.

Being someone from the Eastern part of the country, it is common knowledge that once you are 30, there will be pressure that you should get married. Has the pressure been mounting up yet?

No. My parents have other children to focus on. I’m only one out of eight. For me if marriage comes, fine. It’s not a priority. It’s never been, but it a good thing every woman wants. So, I’m not shying away from it. But then, I’m going to go in with my head straight. I will go into marriage for the right reasons. Not for money, not for fame, not for name and not to satisfy the world. I don’t want any sort of peer pressure getting involved in my settling down, or trying to prove a point that I can settle down. I don’t need that. I’m here to please my God and myself, and as long as my parents have no issues with it, I’m fine. When I find the right person, I’m sure I’ll settle down.

What’s that fashion accessory that you can do anything to get?

Diamond and handbags.

How many handbags do you have?

I can’t count them.

How much is the most expensive one you own?

I won’t tell you that. But I can tell you the cheapest, which is the one I got from Zara. There are other cheap ones that are unique that I also have. I just love handbags.