The actress told The Observer that she could have earned a lot more money if she had agreed to some of the work she was offered.
"I could have taken big money at one stage," she said. "After the Oscar nomination [for Hotel Rwanda] there were some big things mentioned.
"But it would have meant moving to America. And my domestic life here is set up in a way that I can't move there unless I want to leave my daughter or something ridiculous like that, and she certainly doesn't want to go there. Also, Los Angeles - I'm not thick-skinned enough to live there."
She continued: "And some other things here I was offered very good money for - but the parts just felt badly written. I'd be the girlfriend of someone really famous and I'd always be the same - wearing a tight dress and saying the odd slap-piece smarmy line - and I just thought, 'First, I'm not very good at those parts anyway, and second, there are much prettier younger actresses to do them other than me!'
"I'm a character actress really. My agent hates me when I say that. Says, 'No, darling, you're a leading actress'. But with a character actress you go on for years: it's where all the juicy parts are."
Okonedo added that she isn't interested in fame, explaining that she finds it easy to avoid too much press attention.
"I do love being an actress," she said. "The other stuff, the 'fame', well - you know what? - you don't actually have to buy into it if you don't want to.
"I do minimal publicity. I do absolutely no red-carpet stuff, unless it's required because I've got a film coming out. I wouldn't go to a party or stuff like that."
> Okonedo: 'Winnie Mandela is so strong'