By Damilola Fatunmise
Screen diva, Linda Osifo is one actress to look out for in 2023 having featured in remarkable movies over the years.
The self-acclaimed ‘melanin goddess’ relocated to Lagos from Canada in 2013 to pursue her acting career. In this interview, she spoke about acting, challenges, and her NGO amongst others. Please enjoy it.
Since when have you had interest in acting?
Growing up, I have always been an active child and an individual that loves speaking in the presence of people. So, I was always very comfortable. At a point, I auditioned for a role in a Christmas drama. I was about 13 years when I did this. I got the lead role and that was my first ever form of acting. I played the role of Mary, which was so symbolic, and seeing the crowd clapping and the light shining on me as the talent on the stage and the audience dazzling at that moment, I felt comfortable; and from then on, everything started for me. From there, I started going out to perform plays at events that took place in church. Just anything that helped me to be out there for the performance.
How did you land your first role?
I got my first acting gig in 2014, and it launched fully in 2015. This was one year after my stay in Nigeria. I was at a stage where I was sort of getting tired because nothing was really coming through. It was a project I had with Ebony Life, and it was for a franchise TV show titled, Desperate Housewives. It was a big deal for me and I had said to myself that if I got this, I was going to stay in Nigeria forever. It was like a negotiation between God and me, but if it didn’t, I’d go back and figure something out because Nigeria was already getting stressful.
So, I went on the last day of the audition, and the first thing that discouraged me was the tag number that they gave me. I was number 606. I was discouraged. But I went in and decided to audition for a minor character, because I knew so many people would go for the major character. My performance made one of the people conducting the audition cry and I had to beg her to stop. At that moment, I knew something had happened; subsequently, I got a callback.
How has auditioning and getting roles been for you?
The journey has been extremely stressful. I had moments where I felt if I didn’t get callbacks, it would definitely give me sad moments. Most times, when I got callbacks, I’d think it was something major but it was extra. I was just an extra in the background of the commercial, but I was excited. So, I thought to myself that I’d still stay around and as time kept going, I kept auditioning. But you’ve got to find a way to learn how to get around those things. I believe my experiences as a teenager and the things I was doing in communities helped me a lot. So, I have had a background in activities that involved competitions. The industry we are in is considered competitive; we are all trying to get something and not everybody can do it at the same time, but it’s who best fits it. Now, things have gotten better. I now have private auditioning.
Who are your biggest influences and inspirations?
My parents are my biggest influences and inspirations in life.
You’ve acted in many blockbusters, what has been the most challenging role you’ve played?
The most challenging role for me would be the one I played in ‘Devil in Agbada’ because it’s an action film. There were moments we had to learn some stunts and do some physical activities than we would do in regular film or average drama. Another one is ‘Cities of Bastards’; it was the most challenging production, having played the most challenging character. We shot it in Makoko for almost three weeks. We stayed within the environment, we adapted to it, and we all got sick. We all got another side of living; we became part of the people living there. After the project, we left with a different mindset. It was a project that taught us such an experience we didn’t know was going on in our everyday life.
Tell us a bit about your character in the new film, Woke that you starred in?
My character is called ‘Ejura’ in the movie, Woke, which was released late 2022. In the movie, I played an intelligent and passionate member of the police force trying to prove herself in a male-dominated occupation. Filming it was quite effortless because I have been waiting for roles like this – playing an intelligent woman determined to make a mark and name for herself in her chosen career. I can relate to that. When the opportunity came, it was opportunity meeting preparation.
If you could change two things in the Nigerian film industry, what would they be and why?
If I could change anything in the Nigerian film industry, I would definitely ensure there is regulation of piracy and circulation of funds to create better movie productions.
What are the best and toughest parts of your job as an actress?
The toughest part is how much time it takes away from me. The best part is that acting is a great adventure, with vast opportunities that come with it. I’ve been on a journey where I just want to portray my gift and talent. The results I get from it such as stardom and being a dynamic woman are additional blessings that feel amazing. I relocated to Nigeria from Canada only to pursue my career in acting, and Nollywood is filled with diverse talents, and to be recognised as a vital part of this great industry is an honour. I believe in hard work, tenacity and dedication. I also work at my own speed, so I am not comparing my journey with others.
Do you have other interests apart from acting?
Yes, acting is my first love; but I am also passionate about fashion, philanthropy through my NGO, LAO Foundation, and youth mentorship. I am currently working on a project to bring all these together. I’ve always believed in giving back to my community. I grew up and acted with that mindset. These are the things that impact my life positively, knowing I am doing my part in building my community.
Is there a mantra you live by?
The mantra I live by is ‘Whatever you do, do it with a passion while giving it your best’.