Esosa Edosomwan is now everywhere and nobody should blame her for the hard work she’d put in place, because she is not the one to shy away for a testing but strenuous subject matter when it comes to film, television, theater, commercials and modeling.
I had decided to put up a series on the beauty pageants for this year’s Miss Africa USA contest when I bumped into Esosa’s profile which revealed she has been selected to represent Nigeria in the electric competition held on Saturday, November 1, 2008, at the Clayton County Performing Arts Center in Jonesboro, Georgia. For the last couple of months, or so, I have searched extensively to near exhaustion just to track the delegates representing their respective countries on the African continent. I had sent Esosa an e-mail requesting an interview, that is, if she was by any chance visiting the Los Angeles area, swapping e-mail, or probably a phone conversation in case she’s been caught up with series of activities in the Big Apple, knowing how show business works.
Esosa responded immediately Okaying an interview before or after the Miss Africa USA contest of which she was a delegate representing Nigeria. She dropped her phone number so I could call for us to figure out a convenient schedule between her and myself. I called her the next day and we spoke for about twenty minutes on a variety of topics and a breakdown of her projects while making out an appropriate time for a lengthy discourse regarding her works in theater arts, cinema and other future engagements.
Briefly, she gave me a hint of herself when she acknowledged making film in the current trend “is better when one goes with the flow” as the market demands.
Born in New York by Nigerian parents and raised in Virginia and New York, Esosa studied textiles and apparel design with theater concentration at Cornell University, and a post graduate studies in business at Columbia University. Esosa wrote many one act plays in her college days which includes “Mary’s Venus,” “Blues Electric Grief Chamber” and “Vivian X.” At Cornell University, she won the Heermans-McCalmon Playwriting Award and the Cornell University Council of the Arts Grant Award. Other awards includes: Avon Mark Goal Model Award (2003), Project Excellence/Cornel Partnership Award, Frances E Williams Artist Grant (2007) and the Brooklyn Arts Council Regrant (2007).
In kick starting her big screen projects, Esosa wrote, directed and starred in two films – “Simple As Black & White” (2004) and “50 Bucks In Argentina” (2007) which stunned all that saw it, making her something of a hot property and landing her a mentorship with Hollywood film director Joel Schumacher (A Time To Kill, Batman Begins) on an MTV-U reality segment “Meet or Delete,” immediately drawing the attention of an amazed Schumacher, and upon selecting her as a finalist, Schumacher had this to say: “Esosa, wow. So multi-talented; a designer, wordsmith, political commentator and excellent early attempts as a filmmaker… You are a star.”
Telling me of having a busy and tight schedule to keep up with the pace of show business while we spoke for that twenty minutes on my first call when I asked how she got in to represent Nigeria for Miss Africa USA 2008 in Jonesboro, Georgia, she told me she ran into Emmy Award winner Michael Ajakwe, at a film festival in Norfolk, Virginia, who introduced her to the annual Miss Africa USA contest and how to enter her bid as a delegate to represent her country. Ajakwe gave her lead to Uduak Oduok, an attorney and business owner in the Los Angeles area, who also runs the Ladybrille website that does promotion gigs and stuff like that; and that Oduok sits on the helm of affairs presiding over casting crews and scouts for the annual event which started four years ago.
Esosa, who was also schooled at NYU Tisch School in acting, The Actors Workshop of Ithaca, British American Drama Academy, Joseph Papp Public Shakespeare Lab, Labyrinth Company’s Master Class and the Acting Center Conservatory, told me how she shuttles from New York to Los Angeles, back and forth, on special engagements of which she loves and would never complain about her significant roles, which has been a gift from God. She loves what she does with a passion and the sky seems to be the limit.
In addition, Esosa has appeared in numerous commercials including MTV as herself and Safe Sex PSA as woman in couple. As a beauty model, she appeared as a feature model for Zulema Griffin Campaign in July 2007 Fashion Week; feature model for Amber Magazine; Black Book Magazine and Essence Magazine for July 2007.
On my second call which took place on November 3rd, Esosa was a little bit tired from all the weekend engagements and the roundtrip from New York to Atlanta, Georgia, coupled with the electrified and glamorous all night events –Miss Africa USA 2008 –at the Clayton County Performing Arts Center in Jonesboro, Georgia. However, she was chosen and as she recalled, it was another experience in her quest to take a shot at anything as part of her unending learning process in the industry. Her short story was shown on the course of the event and the cheering was enormous.
Esosa and I spoke at length, and this time around, it was very engaging and revealing on what this young woman has aspired to accomplish within a short period of time in the entertainment industry.
On how she got to choosing textiles and apparel design as a major at Cornell University and what inspired her, Esosa acknowledged all her moves and what she is currently doing began when she was growing up in Fairfax, Virginia, and that most of her inspirations came from her surroundings, and particularly her parents who played a significant role in mentoring her.
While at the fashion and apparel design department, Esosa explored other avenues auditioning for the theater department helping the filmmakers write scripts. She started a black theater production on campus which eventually led to her first role as a filmmaker when her Afro Vision Productions released a low budget independent film, “Simple as Black & White,” a film about interracial relationship based on what she observed on campus in an attempt to imagine the reality of racial differences and interracial relationships. She had noticed there were very few black men on campus, thus taking the opportunity to co direct the film with the directors she had worked with in the past even though it made them uncomfortable. Her goal in that script was to talk about her experience on campus and why there “are” just few black men outnumbered on a ratio of 4-1 which ultimately left the black women on campus with the option to date other men outside their race. The moral to the story is to avoid black men having the edge to date more than one black woman since the ratio differs significantly. “There was nothing to it. I just wanted to talk about it,” Esosa would say.
On her career in the big screen which really seem to be taking off and how exactly she got there combining modeling, acting, filmmaking and fashion without distractions and conflicting interests, Esosa said “I really think we should be creating a lot more and I know since I have the talent to act, love auditions and making roles that are great for me, and with the love that I have for modeling, if you think about it, it is pretty much the same… see everything is tied together and that’s how it should work. It works hand in hand.”
On Black filmmakers, actors and actresses, Esosa applauded Spike Lee saying “Spike Lee is a genius, his visual style is distinct and vibrant to look at” in his approach toward the direction he had taken in making movies over the years which did fall in line with events of life on a positive note within the black community, notably with his newest arrival in theaters, “Miracle at St Anne,” a movie about black soldiers in World War II based on a novel of the same title by James McBride. And without a doubt, Lee is now the greatest black filmmaker in Hollywood with a filmmaking career that has spanned over two decades, and certainly deserves that spot.
On Hollywood’s talented leading actresses, she lauded actress Angela Bassett as the best female black actress around today, because of the characters she played in her movies, regardless of the circumstances behind the stories.
On Tyler Perry, the guy who never forgot his past of mental abuse and neglect by his father coupled with all that pains of growing up – hunger, behind in his rent and homeless – and turning things around through perseverance, hard work and commitment in his phenomenal creativity of a new path to filmmaking, to building what is now The Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, Esosa said such acts as in Perry and his kind of creativity is worthy of emulation and not the negativity we often hear or see about blacks in the projects.
On the role that Blacks play, she said “there should be room for all in Hollywood” and the question of going “from being poor to being rich” or either you are a gangster, deadbeat and things of that nature to produce a Hollywood score does not augur well within the entertainment industry; and such limited role portrays the Blacks as how far they can go in Hollywood.
With Master P’s creativity as a step of putting up things unique out there, Oprah Winfrey’s Network that is beginning to empower more people on projects in the kind of what they do and how it should be properly done, Esosa is “grateful to be in this period of time” where technology and models alike have paved way for much, more better improvements for generations to come and she’s been working diligently to be part of that process.
Not planning to compromise anything in the way the movie industry sometimes seem to go by not recognizing the unique nature of our (African) cultural being, she said “Hollywood should give us a chance to be glamorous to do the kind of movies that’ll empower the new generation by getting involved in creating images that connects with who we are and not by watering it down in order to make it universal.”
On Nollywood, Nigeria’s overnight sensational movie market success, she checked excellent to all the actors, actresses, producers and directors in Nigeria’s movie industry based on the fact that in just 10-years that Nollywood popped up, it’s ranked the third movie industry in the world which is a remarkable achievement, but pointed out “the quality has to be there” for it to keep getting better and better if only the actors and directors should stop going through the same storyline and “the same stuff.” “We have been trained – we have a lot to contribute to take Nollywood to another level. There is so much talent in Africa and there has to be a higher production” Esosa said.
In her leisure time, she is simply the everything woman with her skills – acrylic painting, West African Dance, salsa, basketball, pool, cycling, rollerblading, running, ping pong (table tennis), volleyball, weight lifting and numerous others. I have challenged her to a pool match whenever she breezes in to the City of Angels and that request was granted.
What’s next? With her background and as focused as she has been, Esosa is working on getting a new manager who would be meeting with some film partners toward a feature film she’s working on right now, and her future projects. So far, she’s been working on her own without agency recommendations yet she is getting published by major magazine companies which literally means she can be seen everywhere.