Film Business

Embarrassing Video: Genevieve Nnaji Ill-Prepared for Interview Question on Biafra War on the George Stroumboulopoulos Show

Thirty four (34) year old Genevieve Nnaji is beautiful and has been touted as one of Africa’s biggest stars by Oprah. Overall, we have seen her interview quite well during her television and radio appearances for many years now, locally and internationally. But, have the questions been too easy and on the surface? Perhaps?

During the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) last year, Nnaji made an appearance at TIFF, She also made an  appearance on the  George Stroumboulopoulos show. On the show, she was  simply asked about the post independence time i.e. 1960s and whether Nigeria went through a hard period during the time of the Biafra war. The answer would have been a simple, “yes.” There were no details required from her of what happened in the Biafra war, or even what year the war occurred. It was a straightforward question.

Blame it on nerves or just Nnaji being plain ill-prepared. Either way, she came back with an embarrassing “I’m young,” as her response. Common, Ms. Nnaji.  What has your age got to do with the question? Nnaji is 34 not a 20 something.

Given she was part of the cast in ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ film and frankly stole the thunder from the cast at the TIFF show,  and that she informs the host that she is Igbo, and she is a veteran at interviews, she could have really made more of an effort with her response.
Genevieve Nnaji at the 2013 TIFF Premiere Half of a Yellow Sun
I think, at least to me, that her response may have been digestible except she then added that we need to have the Biafra history incorporated into our schools. Again, common Ms. Nnaji. It is one thing for you not to recall or read to stay informed. But, please do not put the schools and teachers of your youth on the chopping block like that. It is unfair. Yes, we should teach the Biafra war history in our schools, if we are not currently doing so, but Given Nnaji’s age, it would be undisputed that Nigeria had some of the best schools in the 70s and into the 80s, with dedicated teachers.

Indeed many of its citizens where offered full ride scholarships to study abroad, a part of history explored in the many  Nollywood films Nnaji has acted in. It wasn’t until the late 80s into the 90s when we begin seeing a steep decline in educational quality that continues today.

Nnaji’s looks, fashion styling, and diction is on point. Now let’s sharpen the basic substantive aspect of her presentation. You are not expected to know everything Ms. Nnaji, but do try a bit harder i.e. prepare better on the next interview.

AML MEDIA INTERVIEW TIP
Talents, especially of Nnaji’s caliber, you can ask the host or media prior to an interview you will give, to give you an idea of topics or topic areas they will be asking you questions on. They may or may not grant your request but these days, majority do. If your host has a great interview, it is good ratings for him/her, the network etc. It is also, needless to say, a good look for you. Exercise that option, even if it is an international interview and is on a platform you really want to appear on.

-Uduak

(Side eye on her comments. Gotta match the beauty with the brains sis.)

“I learned a lot about the past from this present movie that I did… I learned a lot about our struggles, especially as easterners. I’m from the east, we’re called the Igbo tribe and we were greatly involved in the war.

“You do realize there were a lot of restrictions that aren’t there now. And as children we weren’t told — and I think people, our parents, tried to shield us from the truth that they faced.

“But I think it’s a good thing if we knew a bit of our history. Hopefully that’ll be cultivated into the schools.”

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AFRICA MUSIC LAW™ (AML) is a pioneering music business and entertainment law blog and podcast show by Fashion and Entertainment Lawyer Ms. Uduak Oduok empowering the African artist and Africa's rapidly evolving entertainment industry through brilliant music business and entertainment law commentary and analysis, industry news, and exclusive interviews.

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11 Comments

  1. bobbydox says:

    oh pls this is not embarrassing she is only being honest jare

    1. @Bobbydox – One can be honest and at the same time have an embarrassing response. The two are not mutually exclusive.

      -Uudak

  2. The basis of the argument from what I can see at 3.12 am in the morning , (yes, maybe my brain isn't really working well this early in the morning) is her age. You seem to be claiming that she can't be classified as young since she isn't in her twenties. Actually, technically, she can still be classified as a youth but she is on the borderline of crossing over. The second argument that I see is that because of her age and the educational history of Nigeria at that time, she should have known a little bit more about the Biafran war. Actually, she was born in 1979 and if we are talking about the the 70's and 80s. Then she should have been between the age of zero to ten years old and for many Igbo children, you were just taught the basics, which was when the independence occured, when the war started, when it ended and that the late Ojukwu played a very important role in the Biafran war. The nitty bitty details are what many are getting now as they've gotten older and they are digging the archives and asking questions. Also, between the 70's and 80's even if the educational system was so great that people were leaving the country on a scholarship, she would have been too young to leave the country on her own on a scholarship. I believe that was for those who were maybe 16 and above.
    Yes, I do agree that she should have asked for the questions before the interview. Yes, as an Igbo woman living in Nigeria and who was involved in such a movie, she should have ensured that she had more than the superficial details of the war. But, I agree with Genevieve, the Biafran war has to be taught in more details in school. There are many lost Igbo children and she isn't the only one.

    1. @ Pamela, actually it is more than her age. It is as I indicate several factors: a) age, b) duty to be informed, c) her involvement in the film, d) her unpreparedness.

      In addition: First, let's not forget this is the same woman who has been involved in the political process in Nigeria and used her star power to campaign and endorse the current President, Goodluck Jonathan. We saw her in campaigns speaking to our youths to vote for him. Presumably, this shows she is well informed about the history of her country, so much so that she can ask the youths and people in general to vote for Jonathan.

      Second, surely, she has to know that it was a difficult time during the Biafra war for Nigeria? The host asking the question is equally young and he is not Nigerian. In addition to her involvement in Nigerian politics, this host did not ask her details of Biafra war. He simply asked if it was a tough time for Nigeria. Further, Nnaji grew up in Lagos, we are close in age, I too grew up in Lagos. Nnaji attended relatively good schools and while the age would have been quite young, it is no secret that Nigerian educational system drummed the history of its independence, Biafra and Ojukwu in the heads of its very young students. In fact, little girls of Nnaji's age at the time also had play songs that referenced the 60s era and the Biafra war, almost like the other play song "10'10". Her being born in 1979 has no bearing on acknowledging with a simple "yes" to the question asked. The question was not about the details of Biafra. Her statement, "I'm young" did not make sense.

      I agree that all children should be educated on the Biafra war. I won't be so quick to call her "lost Igbo." Also, it is irrelevant to me, for this purpose, other children. She is an adult woman, very adept at interviews with some global brands: Oprah, CNN and so many more. She, very significantly, played a role in this film. The question posed was not the details of the war.

      -Uduak

  3. Itunu says:

    I think at the most she should have researched that time of the Biafran war if she’s playing a role depicting that era. If she wants to maintain being classed as an outstanding actress, then she owes it to her reputation and her global audience.

  4. Lawrence says:

    Nah…
    Sorry you guys have lofty expectations. She said the truth. Our generation were not told about the war, we were kept in the dark.
    She isn't as TV friendly as American actresses are but that's normal. Even Brits suffer when they get interviewed in the states.
    She did OK. Let's try not to be too critical.
    L

  5. Ejima says:

    I was too scared to watch this stupid girl that had a year to prepare for the premiere of this film. Who are her handlers? Genevieve Nnaji should have competent people who drill her before such outings please. My Lawddd how do you get this lazy

    1. @Ejima – Biko (please) chill. No need to call Nnaji "stupid." It is unwarranted.

      -Uduak

  6. Mrs EE says:

    Not being told is one but this is a generation of information. Being in the artistic field required that she is well informed regardless of age or education. People are just generally mentally lazy and don’t want to see or enquire beyond what they are given. She could have anticipated likely questions or redirected the questions to areas she was more confident about. You don’t just go and act a film, you inform yourself of every detail regarding it. Know the subject, put yourself in the situation and speak authoritatively. Why should the western world know more about the war than us? Because the sought information- read, asked questions etc. Enough said!

  7. KING says:

    I am sorry Uduak, I usually see facts within your arguments but I think you need to lighten up. She said ‘I’m young’ in a way that had humour in it and went on to further explain the realities that Nigerian need to be educated on the issue through schools. I think your headline stating ‘Embarrassing’ is a bit extreme and throws people off after they watch the video for themselves. I guess you have your opinion at the end of the day but I don’t think it is ‘EMBARASSING’..:)

    1. @King. That's fine. There are always different ways to look at an issue. I, needless to say, don't see it the way you do. But, I appreciate a different take on it. Thanks for your comment.

      -Uduak

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