Linda Ihuoma Ejiofor made her name in the movie world with her role in ‘The Meeting’ and the popular sitcom, ‘Tinsel’. The lively thespian who got married a fortnight ago to Tinsel actor, Ibrahim Suleiman, speaks on her decade-long journey in Nollywood, challenges and other issues
How were you able to keep your marriage plans from the media?
(Laughs) Did I? I am a private person and my marriage and relationships are my private life which I like to keep low. Thank God that I married my love and I have quit spinsterhood for good.
While growing up did you ever imagine yourself as a big business woman, lawyer, doctor or any other vocation than acting?
First of all, I studied Sociology in University of Port Harcourt and I never saw myself as a doctor, lawyer or any other professional because back then I was already a model. I wanted to work in an advertising agency. I saw myself being creative. I saw what a commercial looks like.
Do you feel any pressure to break in Nollywood?
I don’t feel any pressure to go into Nollywood but rather I have the desire to go into Nollywood.
You have this out going, cheerful personality on your Instagram page. Is that how you are in person or is that just what you show us on social media?
I will have to tell you to hang out with me to know. I may tell you that is how I am naturally and it would be like a lie. So, hang out with me and find out for yourself.
You said something earlier while explaining your defining moment in your career for DSTV ‘I AM’ campaign that you are proud that you can act and not just that you have a pretty face. Tell us when you had that big break into Nollywood?
That will be the movie ‘The Meeting’. I got a call from Mildred saying that I got the role after my audition. I was proud, happy, excited and nervous. There were so many emotions running through my mind and body when I got the news.
As regards the DSTV campaign, this means actors, musicians and everyone in the creative eye can be someone if they put their mind to it. You can change in an instant, you can be on set and transform into someone else. MultiChoice has done a fantastic job, telling authentic stories. They started with African magic original movies, then moved on the creating channels like African Magic Epic, Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa. That way, not only are stories that are being told, people can relate with them, but also told in their mother tongues.
Before ‘The Meeting’ movie, did you ever feature in movies playing smaller roles Nigerians popularly call ‘Waka Pass’?
Funny enough, No.
What other careers were you into before you started acting?
I was acting in “Tinsel”. It was my first break through.
How did you get “Tinsel”?
I finished university and I was like every other graduate waiting for NYSC. I will call myself an independent woman. I didn’t want to rely on my parents for money because I had siblings who were still in school and I wanted to take care of myself. I will say thank you to my parents for that because they brought me up well. I went out looking for job, modelling job to be precise because I was modelling part time then. A friend of mine told me about the M-net auditions, so I went for the auditions. One year later when I was serving in Jigawa State, I got a call from M-net saying that I got the role. After my two weeks of orientation in camp, I came for the shoot and the rest is history. That was in 2008.
How did you manage the shoot and serving that far away from Lagos?
I was managing it well. Anytime I had a shoot, I would, not fly but drive, I mean go by night bus back to Lagos and shoot.
Was the drive for advertising also because they had the money?
It was because they have the money, I have the face and I love the creativity that advertising stands for.
What is the transition into many characters you portray in different movies like?
The transition is always the same every time. Every time I am on a new set, it’s the same feeling because I don’t know the people I am going to be working with. I have never worked with the director or my fellow cast I am working with, so I would always be nervous whenever I start a new production with other people. I would always be nervous because it’s a new character that I have never played. The roles are usually different from Ejiro and The Meeting’, Halima in ‘soldier Story’ or the role I played in ‘Rumour Has It”. Every time I get on set, I am always shaking.
Are you working on any movie set presently?
I have a couple of movies coming out soon. There is an Ebony Live TV movie coming out in December, ‘Chief Daddy’. I have ‘knocking out Blessing’ which I am so looking forward to because I played as a prostitute there. And others.
How did you get yourself into that character?
It is hard. It is really hard. As actors we would need a lot of time to fit into the character but we didn’t have that much time. We had to go and watch movies of other people that have acted the character. Not watching American movies, we had to watch our own local content. I play the role of a prostitute in a recent movie that a friend did a documentary on prostitution and that helped us as well. It was something that was cool because we had to speak Pidgin English so it was good. I had done ‘Out of luck’ where I spoke Pidgin English, so it was so much fun having to speak it again.
Don’t you think people may mistake that character to be real life?
No they wouldn’t. People have always likened my real life character to that of Bimpe in “Tinsel” but when they see me in real life they notice that I am totally different. I am quiet.
What are the high and low times in your acting career?
The high time in my career was “The meeting”. The movie gave me the breakthrough after “Tinsel”. My low times, I cannot remember because my high times always surpass the low times. I don’t even remember the low times.
What is the best thing that acting has given you?
We hide behind a lot of characters. There are a lot of things that we would want to play out in person but we can’t do. Acting has given me the opportunity to play different people whenever I want to, and the fact that I can interact and pass information to people watching in front of a camera.
What is the most embarrassing thing a fan has done or said to you?
Someone saw me outside and she said, ‘Hi Bimpe’ and she goes ‘you are actually small in person’, and I just smiled. Another person which was a guy, sometimes they don’t know how to hug and take pictures, he actually put his hand on my low waist. I had to tell him, ‘guy, it’s not there, please take your hand up’. You just have to set boundaries.
Do you also have trolls on social media, like instagram?
I am not sure. I probably do but I am hardly on my DMs, Direct Messages. I don’t see them.
You have always maintained a clean slate in the industry, no controversy, how have you been able to maintain that consistency?
I always remember the family that I come from. I think ‘would they be proud of me if I do this?’ Thus, even if bad publicity is also publicity, I just don’t want it attached to my name.
Which celebrities would you say are your fashion inspiration?
The first person that comes to mind is Rita Domnic. I love her style. I just love how she pieces her style together. Another person is Ini Dima-Okojie, she is so gorgeous and then of course, my friend, Adesua Etomi-Wellington and myself.