Jennifer Gentet: Nigeria’s Television Diaspora Queen
Jennifer Gentet is the queen of the Nigerian diaspora television and she lives up to her name. The host of Lives of Nigeria in diaspora has gained recognition in the international scene as a television host and an author.
Guardian Life caught up with her to discuss her life, inspiration and her work as an ingenious host:
Please tell us your name and what you do?
My name is Jennifer Gentet. I am an author, TV documentary producer, a TV host and the CEO at the Innovative Creations and Communication LTD (ICC).
Tell us about where you are from?
I am French/Nigerian. I was born in Nigeria and basically grew up in France. Nigeria is my first home while France is my second home.
Give us a little background on your childhood and upbringing?
My late father was an engineer and a philanthropist. He was a well-respected man who was loved by many. My mother is an educator and retired as a college principal. I was raised in a household where family means everything, my siblings and I are very close and supportive of one another. Growing up, I taught self-respect and respect for others, integrity, discipline and what it is meant to be responsible.
My mother constantly told us that giving up is never an option. My mother would state the following phrase each time I was about to give up on something “ when the going gets tough, the tough keeps going”. I found that phrase very annoying and hated hearing it then, but now as a grown-up, I find myself repeating that same phrase to myself sometimes, I find it very inspiring and empowering. When I was younger, my parents were basically my role model. And yes, there are so many other people whom I look up to today.
When did you fall in love with television?
Quite frankly, I didn’t find television, television found me. As a creative writer, I have worked behind the TV scene before making my own appearances on TV. I have written TV commercials, monologues, speeches, TV programs etc before appearing on television -and still do so to speak. I didn’t get on TV for fame, I came into the television sector to tell the real stories of real people, to a give a voice to the voiceless and to make a difference. I am very much interested in anything that concerns youth development and empowerment, as I believe the future of every nation lies in the hands of the youth. Our TV documentaries series are meant to inform, educate, entertain and inspire.
How did your show ‘Lives of Nigeria in Diaspora’ come about?
All my life I have lived on three different continents and have travelled to many countries around the world. Now I reside in two countries – In Paris, France and in Lagos, Nigeria where my office is located. I made a few discoveries upon my residence in the diaspora and my trips around the world. I discovered that Nigerians are some of the most travelled people in the world, I don’t think there is any country around the world which you would not find Nigerians. There are so many Nigerians in Diaspora who are accomplished in their different fields, and quite inspiring, but unfortunately the “mainstream media” do not portray Nigeria and Nigerians fairly.
I also think that it is very important that our stories are told by us, so I decided to take it upon myself to travel around the world and tell the fascinating stories of amazing people, tastefully showcasing the life and lifestyle, the truth and reality about Nigerians in the diaspora. The great achievements and accomplishments obtained by Nigerians in their own rights, as well as challenges they may encounter living outside the of their homeland. We are shown on 5 TV station in all TV platforms in Nigeria, also on SKY in the UK.
What is the thing you enjoy most about your show?
I enjoy the fact that I am the creator and the executive producer of “LIVES OF NIGERIANS IN DIASPORA” and some other tv shows, though it comes with a lot of responsibilities. Being the boss of my shows gives me the freedom to showcase the truth, and navigate through the vision I have for our projects. Nothing on our shows are staged, when you watch our shows you are looking at real people, real stories, real events, destinations, culture lifestyle etc. it is a no fake zone. I also love the fact that people enjoy watching our shows. I enjoyed all the support and love our fans show to us, it motivates me to go back and work even harder to bring the best contents to our viewers.
What major difference is there between Nigerians living in Nigeria and those in diaspora?
The major differences between those at home and in diaspora are people’s mentalities and the opportunities they are presented with.
How do you find the energy to do what you do?
My job is not as easy as it looks, it is quite tough especially for women. However, we all know that when you love what you do it makes it feel a little easier than normal. My energy comes from passion, I am passionate about what I do and my mission is to make a difference and inspire others.
What motivated you to write the book “6 effective steps to your better self”?
My educational background was in marketing communications and advertising etc. Writing and communication has always been a big part of my career and putting out a book have always been in my thoughts. But I became motivated to actually write my book when I had a blog many years ago, which was ranking four to five starts on google at the time. Then I would write weekly motivational and inspirational pieces on my blog, I had thousands of visitors and readers daily and would receive tons of comments from readers asking me to put out a book. So I did. My second book is in the making and should be out by the end of the year.
What challenges do you face with your show?
There are many many challenges that come with being an executive producer of TV shows, The big part of it is being responsible for getting fund on your project. When we newly started, I basically funded my shows all by myself, but as time went on we started getting helps the from individuals and brands who now believe in our projects and the value we bring to the table. Another challenge can be getting a press pass to film some countries, you cant just pick up your cameras and start recording in some countries. You have to follow a proper channel so you don’t break a law in a foreign country and end in prison. Lol Casting is not as easy as one might think, most of the time I have to travel the different countries to meet the cast first, then make production arrangements months ahead before production commences.
You travel a lot; do you receive any form of racism when visiting certain countries?
The truth is, if you look for racism, you will find it, racism is everywhere. I experience racism every now and then upon my trips in different parts of the world, but never in a severe form that has prevented me from accomplishing my goals.
You have to know that most racists out there suffer from insecurity and lack of self-worth, some are full of hate, while the rest of them (racists) are just bunch of ignorant people with very low IQ. I do experience racism but not all the time and when I do, I shut it down! But some other times I just chose to rise above it.
Where do you see yourself in the coming years?
More travelling, producing many more documentaries, having them broadcast on many more TV platforms and TV stations around the world. More books, expanding my company INNOVATIVE CREATIONS and COMMUNICATION LTD (ICC) Employing more youths in our company. I have also created a youth empowerment program where we help raise and provide funds for young entrepreneurs. I would like to help more youths through our program.
Who do you look up to?
Oprah Winfrey, Mo Abudu, Tyra Banks and every entrepreneur out there who work hard.
What is the advice you would give to someone who looks up to you?
Find out what you are really good at or what you enjoy doing and do it more often.Be you, remember that the best person you can be is yourself. Faking it doesn’t work. If you fake it, you will never really make it. Bear in mind that often times authenticity creates greatness. It very important to surround yourself with people who understand your kind of energy. You can inspire others, yes but never compare yourself to anyone. Everyone is different, each and every one of us has something special in us, just look within make yours shine. Work hard but also work smart. Do not beat up yourself if you are not seeing the results you hoped for yet, remember that success does not occur overnight. Stay focused, be consistent and you will get there. Most importantly put God first.