Nollywood actress, Genevieve Nnaji has announced that she will be starring in the film adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel, Half of a Yellow Sun as Ms Adebayo. Genevieve will be starring alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anika Noni Rose and Thandie Newton. Ms Adebayo, in the book, is a professor who developed a flirtatious relationship with her colleague Mr Odenigbo (Chiwetel Ejiofor).
There was some controversy surrounding the choice of Thandie Newton as a lead actress to play the role of Olanna in the movie. This led to a petition, which was initiated by Ashley Akunna who demanded for Genevieve Nnaji to replace Thandie Newton as Olanna taking into consideration the Ibo accent and the full figured form of an Igbo woman. Amongst other points, Ashley Akunna’s petition stated;
Igbo people do not look like the bi-racial Thandie Newton. Thandie Newton is an accomplished and talented actress in her own right. However, she is not Igbo, she is not Nigerian, and she does not physically resemble Igbo women in the slightest. As a result, I have created this petition to demand
‘The use of Igbo men, women, and children, who look like the majority of Igbo people (which means brown in complexion) in the leading roles of the film adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s, Half of a Yellow Sun.’
He goes ahead to conclude and threaten: “This casting choice is an abomination to Igboland…Failure by the producers of Half of a Yellow Sun, to meet these requirements will result in the failure of everyone who signs this petition to support Half of a Yellow Sun when it is available in theaters or for purchase.”
The movie will be produced by Andrea Calderwood, the BAFTA winning producer of The Last King of Scotland and Gail Egan whose The Constant Gardener drew him an Oscar acclaim. Nigerian playwright Biyi Bandele, who has had a number of successful features on the London stage, including his adaptation of seminal post-colonial novel Things Fall Apart is making his directorial debut with this project. Yewande Sadiku and Muhtar Bakare of Shareman Media are both executive producers of the movie. Filming will commence next month and is currently scheduled for general release in 2013.
This is another major role for Genevieve as she recently confirmed a role in the Tony Abulu produced movie “Doctor Bello”, which will see her feature alongside US actor Isaiah Washington, Vivica A Fox and Jimmy Jean-Louis and is set for a summer 2012 release.