[WATCH] Esosa E & Global Entertainment Leaders at Nigerian Entertainment Awards
You went to top schools Columbia and Cornell. How did your experiences there play into your career journey in entertainment?
I went to Cornell for fashion design. Since I was a kid, I was intent on being a fashion designer. I was always selling scarves and little outfits, doing photo shoots—-just always into that kind of things. At the end of high school, I auditioned for a play, got cast and got nominated for an award at the Kennedy Center. It was a bit strange [how I got into] the whole acting thing.
When I got to college, I was grateful that I didn’t go to a school exclusive to fashion studies because Cornell offered me the opportunity to immerse myself in everything I was interested in. I did theater classes, writing courses, short films—anything I felt interested in, but I was still heavy in fashion, doing two fashion shows per year. I also trained in acting, and later decided to go to Columbia for business. It was somewhat family pressure in the beginning, but I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur as well. I felt it very deeply. My dad’s one, I grew up always helping the family business and I was always selling things as a kid. I expected to work for myself. At Columbia, I actually went to the dean and said, ‘Hey I’m really into filmmaking. Can I make my own curriculum?’ The thing about education, for me, is that majors are cool but I feel like if I’m paying for my education, I should be able to study what I’m drawn to. I was able to talk my way into film classes and studied a variety of MBA and film courses. I enjoyed studying management and just making my own way.
You’ve been able to work with Nollywood and Hollywood actors, producers and directors from around the world. How can a budding actress or actor build those global networks for opportunities?
There’s really not a set formula, however one of my biggest strengths is building solid relationships with filmmakers all over the world. It’s not like I really planned it. Whenever I’ve had the opportunity to send my films overseas … I’d just keep in touch with people. It’s important to keep relationships going, especially when there’s a connection. It’s not a forced thing.
The past couple of years, I’ve found that I more and more do not audition, and even if I do audition, it’s like they’d already thought of me for that role, and that’s because of relationships I’ve cultivated through the years.
Put yourself in spaces where you can meet international crowds and don’t limit yourself. Get into the global mindset that it’s not a big deal to pop over to London for an event. I understand that when you’re in the beginning stages of your career, you may feel you don’t have the finances to do that, but [oftentimes] things tend to work themselves out. I was always able to find a way to get to where I needed to go and opportunities would literally show up.
I think people spend a lot of time trying force things a bit too much, but it is possible to get clear about the things you like to do, the people you like to work with and follow [the path to acquiring those things and relationships.]
On the next page, find out how Esosa E sticks to her diet and what’s next for season two of ‘An African City’ …