Ask anybody in the Nigerian music industry and they’ll tell you that it is a cut-throat world, in the sense that competition is rife amongst all involved in Nollywood, be it record labels, marketers, entourages or the actors themselves. Competition is definitely one of the things that keep the industry going. ESSENTIALS examines two of Nollywood’s most talked about actresses who have earned more than their fair share of bragging rights. Nollywood’s story won’t be complete without tales of their supposed rivalry and who is better. We set their statistics side by side – not judging.
Born Genevieve Nnaji on May 3, 1979, Genevieve started her acting career as a child actress in the then-popular television soap opera Ripples, at the age of eight. She was also featured in several commercials, among which were some for beverage brand Pronto and detergent Omo. In 1998, at the age of 19, she took her first big step in acting with her debut movie Most Wanted.
Her subsequent movies Last Party, Mark of the Beast and Ijele endeared the Imo State-born actress to movie lovers everywhere.
In 2002, she starred in the movie Sharon Stone and after its release; it is safe to say that Nnaji’s reign as one of Nigeria’s top actresses began.
Nnaji doesn’t just appeal to Nigerians alone. She can count many Kenyans, Liberians, South Africans and Ghanaians, who are avid followers and dedicated lovers of Nigerian home videos, both home and abroad, as her fans.
Not only is ‘Genny’ (as she is fondly called) an actress, she is also a fashion designer. She launched her clothing line St. Genevieve in 2008. Though much hasn’t been heard about the clothing line, she did promise, at its launch, to donate a percentage of its proceeds to charity.
In 2009, Nnaji made history by being the first Nigerian actress to be profiled on The Oprah Winfrey Show, on an episode about the most popular people around the world. As one of the highest-paid and most desired actresses in Nollywood, Nnaji is also referred to as “Nigeria’s Julia Roberts”.
She has featured in over 80 films in the course of her acting career, but she will be best remembered for her roles in Ijé: The Journey, Mirror Boy, Half of a Yellow Sun, Most Wanted, Blood Sisters among many. She has endorsed companies such as Etisalat Nigeria, Lux Soap, MUD Cosmetics, among others, with some still on-going.
In an ill-advised attempt to, perhaps, branch out, Nnaji ventured into music, with the album One Logologo Line, with the most notable number from the album being No More.
Nnaji is also not immune to controversies. Her seemingly eternal single status has been fodder for many gossip blogs and magazines. The ‘lesbian’ rumours surrounding her seems to keep rearing its ugly head and her perceived rivalry with Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde is also the stuff of legends.
In recognition of her contribution to Nollywood, Nnaji was awarded the national merit award of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) in 2011. Nnaji has also won various awards, including the Africa Movie Academy Award for best actress in a leading role and the City People Awards for Best Actress.
Nnaji By The Numbers
35 Nnaji is currently 35 years old. She was born on November May 3, 1979.
8 Nnaji was 8 years old when she scaled the auditions for a role in early ‘90s soap Ripples.
N100m The reported worth of Nnaji’s endorsement with telecommunications company Etisalat Nigeria.
2 Genevieve is currently a brand ambassador for two companies, Etisalat Nigeria and MUD Cosmetics.
1 Genevieve released just one album in her short-lived musical career.
10 Nnaji has won over 10 major awards in the course of her career.
80 Number of movies in which Nnaji has starred in the course of her career.
671,400 Nnaji has a total of 671,400 followers on Twitter (as at the time of this publication).
Omotola Jalade Ekeinde
Born Omotola Jalade on February 7, 1978, Ekeinde made her acting debut in the movie Venom of Justice in 1995. Since then she has appeared in over 300 movies. She came to limelight after she starred in the critically acclaimed movie Mortal Inheritance.
Also, Ekeinde doesn’t just appeal to Nigerians alone; she enjoys a large international following. The actress has won awards in almost all the continents of the world.
Not only is ‘Omosexy’ (as she is fondly called) an actress, she is also a singer, philanthropist and former model. The actress who became a United Nations WFP (World Food Programme) Ambassador in 2005 has also been active in the Walk the World Project and participated in the Walk the World Campaign in Liberia, with President Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson. Ekeinde is known as a fierce human rights campaigner and her philanthropic efforts are centred on her NGO, Omotola Youth Empowerment Programme (OYEP). Ekeinde became an Amnesty International campaigner in 2011 and has participated in campaigns in Sierra Leone (on maternal mortality) and Nigeria’s Niger Delta region.
She also takes advantage of the social media to connect with her fans and share her own unique views with the rest of the world. Ekeinde is regarded as the first African celebrity to receive over 1 million likes on her Facebook page.
In 2013, she was honoured in Time Magazine’s list of the ‘100 most influential people in the world’ alongside Michelle Obama, Beyonce and Kate Middleton.
In 2012, CNN Travel noted Ekeinde’s famous accent on their list of the ‘world’s 12 sexiest accents’, with the Nigerian accent ranked 5th on the list. She is also regarded as the first Nigerian celebrity to star in their own reality show – her reality show Omotola: The Real Me was launched in 2012 on Africa Magic Entertainment, a subsidiary of M-Net, broadcast on DStv.
In early 2013, Ekeinde made her US television debut in VH1’s scripted series, Hit the Floor. Some of her most prominent films include Ijé: The Journey, Last Flight to Abuja, Amina and Mirror Boy and Blood Sisters. She has endorsed products of Ghadour Cosmetics, online store Konga, Hollandia, Proctor & Gamble, amongst others, with some of these endorsements still on going.
Ekeinde has proved to be more versatile when it comes to music. She released her debut album GBA in 2005. The singles Naija L’owa and The Things you do to Me were included in the album. Her sophomore album Me, Myself, and Eyes was released soon after.
Ekeinde has managed to remain scandal-free throughout her career. The only time controversy was added to her name was when she lashed out at journalists who labelled some of her 12-year old daughter’s photos “sexy”.
Omotola is married and is a proud mother of four lovely children.
In recognition of Ekeinde’s contribution to Nollywood, she was conferred with a chieftaincy title in her home-state of Ondo. She has also won various awards, including the Ebony Vanguard Award, the Screen Nation’s award for Best Actress, Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, the ELOY Award for Actress of the Year and a host of others.
Ekeinde By The Numbers
36 Ekeinde is currently36 years old. She was born on February 7, 1978.
1995 The year in which Ekeinde made her acting debut.
4 Ekeinde has endorsed the products of four companies; Ghadour Cosmetics, online store Konga, Hollandia and Proctor & Gamble.
2 Number of musical albums the actress has released.
4 Number of children Ekeinde and her husband have.
300 Number of movies which Ekeinde claims to have appeared starred in in the course of her career.
16 Ekeinde has won over 16 major awards in the course of her career
478,800 Total number of followers Ekeinde has on Twitter (as at the time of this publication).