CHARLES NOVIA REVEALS THE ARTISTIC RIVALRY BETWEEN GENEVIEVE NNAJI AND STELLA DAMASUS ON HIS SET IN HIS NEW BOOK ‘NOLLYWOOD TILL NOVEMBER’ Excerpts from the new Bestseller ‘NOLLYWOOD TILL NOVEMBER BY CHARLES NOVIA.
The Producer in me wanted to titillate the audience with a box office pairing never before seen in Nollywood. I had for a few months wondered how it would be like to have Genevieve and Stella Damasus in leading roles in the same movie. They both were audience favourites for various reasons and the prospects of having another box office hit with both of them was quite appealing. Besides, the script ‘MORE THAN SISTERS’, was just right for both of them to explore their creative abilities.
Stella promptly signed up for the movie as did Segun Arinze, whose re-branding process was an on-going project for me. He was cast as a mellow ‘bad-guy-turned-good-guy’ who paid the ultimate price just to pay back a favour. We went on location after a couple of rehearsals. The chemistry and energy between Genevieve and Stella was amazing. Both actresses gave amazing performances. They were literally smoking! Somehow though, I could sense an unspoken professional rivalry between both of them. A certain competition to outshine each other, behind the friendship they had.
When I noticed a bit of that, I had to consciously rein in artistic excesses where I felt their acting could become melodramatic so as not to lose the essence of the story. But incidents like this were few. Though both actresses were friendly with each other, at that point in time, Genevieve was the bigger box office star. I expected some diva tantrums for her and was quite prepared to either curb such or handle it with the firmness I had devised for such but surprisingly, she was very co-operative and blended with cast and crew alike.
She had some pimple breakout on that shoot and wanted them less visible on screen. She would have mild arguments with the make-up artiste about the right powder application to her face and at times would go out of her way to make up herself after the make-up artiste must have finished. I found this quite amusing and in some cases, I did not mind her fussiness over her make-up as the script progressed from a flashback period to ‘present day’ and I felt if she had to hide her blotches, she was very well within her ambits to do so, in tandem with the character who was supposed to be trendy.
She spent a few more seconds dabbing powder over a big pimple on her cheek. Stella was behind me, scowling and tapping her foot, impatiently. I took the whole incident between them as one of some brimming rivalry among actors which directors and Producers face at times on set so I did not pay much notice to it. However, I was taken unawares by what happened a few days later!