How I transitioned from acting to directing – Genevieve Nnaji

How I transitioned from acting to directing – Genevieve Nnaji

Since news of Genevieve Nnaji’s directorial debut with LionHeart broke last year, many have have been eagerly waiting to see what sets the movie apart

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Since news of Genevieve Nnaji’s directorial debut with LionHeart broke last year, many have have been eagerly waiting to see what sets the movie apart that made Netflix acquire the rights to it, making it the first original Nigerian movie to be acquired by the international streaming platform. The film which made its debut on Netflix on Friday, follows a woman who has to step up to help run her father’s company. Speaking to Essence magazine, the actress turned director opens up on her plans for Hollywood and how she was able to transition from actress to director.

On her decision to operate from behind the camera
I believe the right story and intent called for it. I was ready to become a storyteller beyond portraying a singular character. The only way to fully share the vision I had was getting behind the camera lens, and I look forward to sharing more.

Inspiration for LionHeart
Lionheart stemmed from my desire and hunger to shed light, and to speak the truth of what it’s like to be a young [woman] trying to make it in a world that is dominated by men. That being said, it was equally important to me that the movie was light-hearted and warm, so the environment in which it was told was crucial as well.

On the challenges of her director-actor role in the movie  
I was most worried about being in two places at once. As an actor, you get on set at your call time and leave when you wrap your shoot for the day. As a director, you are first in and last out. I had to stay up long enough to go through the rushes of the day as well as plan out the scenes for next day’s shoot. It was difficult and very challenging, but with sheer determination and tenacity, as well as a very efficient crew, Lionheart was made.

On her deal with Netflix
Our movie had been accepted into the Toronto International Film Festival and that was where Netflix acquired it.

Seting her sights on Hollywood collaborations
I would love to collaborate with Jordan Peele, Shonda Rhimes, Issa Rae, Patty Jenkins, Ava Duvernay, or Angelina Jolie.

On plans for more directorial effort
Yes, definitely. I would keep directing. There are so many stories out there yet untold.