Genevieve has been on a roll these past few years. First her film, Lionheart became the first film to be purchased outright by Netflix and given a global premiere on their streaming platform, earning her big bucks. She was a producer on the Ebony Life vehicle The Royal Hibiscus Hotel and has been linked with Netflix for their new slew of projects and will be an integral part of the production projects for Netflix Naija, the Nigerian arm of the global streaming giant responsible for original content. With a career that spans 20 years, she has definitely paid her dues. This is why it comes as no surprise to us that Ms. Nnaji has been invited to join the prestigious jury at the Academy awards.
Why does this matter?
Well, the Oscars have been accused of being too white. #TheOscarsSoWhite was in response to successive years where all the prestigious acting and directing honours were accorded only to white actors, actresses and directors even though in those years there were significantly powerful performances by black actors. Even when black actors are nominated they are often tokenist, one in five nominations. There are many reasons for this, including which films are greenlit by studios specifically for award season glory. As more black people join the Oscars jury, they bring a more diverse perspective to the awards and challenge the limited thinking that has led to far too many white award seasons.
Genevieve joins other Nigerians Akin Omotoso and Cynthia Erivo (who has won two Tonys and was nominated for an Oscar for her phenomenal work in Harriet), as well as breakout Senegalese director Matti Diop. They join Mo Abudu, who was inducted in 2019.
With Genevieve finally on the jury, she can lend her voice to causes, like the category designations that saw Lionheart disqualified for Best Foreign Film in 2019. Change is here and we are glad to see it.