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Saturday 3 May 2014

Interview with Esosa E (AKA Ngozi) from the hit show "An African City"

 “An African City” is the latest "It" show out there for the young and independent African woman. It has been garnering so much media attention having been featured on CNN, BBC, BET, Ebony, Bella Naija and ELLE magazine, just to name a few so I am very excited to be able to interview one of the ladies responsible for this tremendous success.
My intention today is for my readers to get to know Ms Esosa Edosomwan better as well as gain further insight into the show. She is indeed an accomplished actress in her own merit having played roles in several movies and featured films before landing a role on this show.

Me: Good day Esosa and thanks so much for agreeing to this interview. It’s such an honor for me because I am a huge fan of the show.

Firstly, may we know what your ethnical/cultural background is and also where you are currently based? 

Ms Edosomwan: Although I have been mistaken for everything from Ethiopian, Somalian, Eritrean, Jamaican, South African, Trinidadian, Moroccan, Ghanaian (from the north), and more…I am Nigerian and I rep Edo State. I love the fact that I am somewhat ethnically ambiguous looking though because I hope to play a wide range of characters from different backgrounds. I am currently based in Los Angeles, but I go wherever the work is.

This may seem random but why did you decide to go vegan 10 years ago?

The funny thing is I can’t exactly remember why? I was lactose intolerant since childhood so milk and dairy aggravated me and one day I just decided no more meat. Over the years I have added many reasons for why I choose to stay vegan which includes clear skin, overall health and vitality, not getting ill very often, the environment, and avoiding GMO’s (genetically modified organisms and participation in the cycle of animal abuse.

I see that you attended school at both Cornell and Columbia University and studied directing, producing and marketing management but is this always what you wanted to do (acting and directing)?

No I did not always want to be an actor, and I never imagined I would direct. From early childhood until college I had the passion and desire to be a fashion designer. When I was a little girl my mother taught me to sew clothes early and I used to make clothes for my Barbie dolls. In middle school and high school I started mini clothing lines and used to sell scarves and other wares to everyone I knew. So I was a fashion peddler very early. My senior year of high school I got cast in a play and my performance was nominated for an award at the Kennedy Center. This started my interest in acting. I went to Cornell and studied fashion design as planned but around my fashion curriculum and showcasing my work in fashion shows I started intense study of acting, theater, and film and tried to fit in as much as I could. I even took two years of night classes to complete my study of Meisner technique, which added a lot to my already hectic workload. I eventually caught the acting bug hard and by my sophomore year in college I was already a working actor in NYC; I got a role in Platanos & Collard Greens Off-Broadway and worked with them for several years on and off after that. While in undergrad I used to audition for theater and would get called back but never cast. I started auditioning for films instead, and all of sudden I was doing tons of student films.

 I loved the process of film-making and over time I had the desire to be in films with better writing and meatier roles, so I had a friend teach me screenwriting and wrote and directed my first short. A few years after college I made my second short “50 Bucks in Argentina” which won me a competition on MTV, won Best Short at the Nigerian Entertainment Film Festival, went to Cannes Film Festival, and more. This was all completely unexpected because I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. But I am very naturally creative and loved the process of working through it all from costumes to framing shots to music. From that experience the desire to study more about producing and directing grew and I headed over to Columbia. So I kind of fell into it all step by step.

                                                          Esosa for Zen Magazine

How did you get involved with “An African City?” Did you know any of the ladies before the show or did you all just meet on set?

I auditioned for the pilot episode, which was shot in 2011. The only lady I knew prior to shooting was the lovely Nana Mensah who plays Sade; we actually studied together in conservatory at the Actor’s Center post-college. It’s wonderful to see how much we both have grown and be working together again on An African City. Although my character Ngozi doesn’t agree with her, make no mistake I am a huge fan of Sade and very proud of Nana’s work.

                                               (Esosa and Nana, who plays Sade)

I believe the show is filmed in Ghana (Accra)? If so, do you ladies shoot an entire season on location and then head back to your respective countries of residence after filming is wrapped up? 

Yes, Nana, Maame Yaa, and I came to Ghana to shoot all of season one in January and then returned to the states after we completed shooting. Marie and Maame Adjei live in Ghana so they were already there.

How much of Ngozi is Esosa? Was she your character of choice?

It would not have been my first choice. In fact, I was a bit bewildered by Nicole insisting on it at first because I could see myself in everyone except Ngozi. I later found inspiration for her from friends and family and also found a personal connection that helped me connect to her truth. Like Ngozi, I was raised Christian and love God, and I am also a vegetable eater in real life, but much worse than she is. Those are the main things we really have in common. Her way of seeing the world and moving through the world is completely different than mine, but in the end I embraced it and love giving her life. Obviously Nicole saw something in me and believed I could do it, and I’ll always be eternally grateful for the challenge.

Will “An African City” ever become a televised show or will it remain a web series? We, the international 
fans appreciate how accessible it is on YouTube right now!

I appreciate that it is accessible too, and I think Nicole and Millie will keep in mind that our international audience needs to be able to tune in somehow. With so many legit web based television shows or with shows that air on network and then go to the internet; I’m sure there’s a way to make that possible. Right now there’s no news that I can report as far as where we would be headed for a season two, but thanks to the continued support of all of the fans, I think it’s very likely we will indeed find a home for a new season.

Did any of you ever imagine that the show would become such a hit and garner this much press?

I had a feeling the show would be popular. If I wasn’t in the show I would be a fan; and I knew there was an audience that was hungry for content like this. But the crazy amazing international response and press in countless top tier media outlets is not something I think any of us was expecting. The show has already exceeded our wildest expectations and I cannot wait to see what happens next.

                 (As seen from this screen shot, the show was featured on BBC!)

Out of the 4 of you ladies, who is the most like her character in real life?

Hmmm…I don’t know? I will say though that I am probably the LEAST like my character in real life comparatively speaking.

Who takes the longest in hair and make up?

Maame Yaa tends to take the longest but rightly so because there’s so much to do with her hair styles etc. Sade has several wigs so you know that cuts down on hair prep time, she was usually the fastest.

Would you/are you considering moving permanently to the motherland?

I was just talking to a friend about how I fell in love with Accra. I could see myself living there in some capacity or at least having a home there where I can drop in and stay for a few months at a time. I don’t think I would ever abandon the states completely though, to stay sane I would need the balance of both worlds.

Apart from “An African City”, what other projects can we look forward to seeing you in?

Right now I am attached to play a role in an exciting feature film that I think will shoot in Nigeria and London but I don’t want to give too many details so as not to jinx it. Whenever it is formally announced I’ll be more vocal about it. I just relocated to LA so I am looking forward to other new projects coming my way soon.

I also noticed you are very much involved in the fashion industry…can we expect a line or collection from you some time?

Yes. I have never stopped loving fashion and I wear my own clothes out a lot. I just never liked designing for other people as much as I liked dreaming up my own work. I wore a few pieces I designed in a couple episodes of “An African City,” and was also involved in the styling. Not too long ago I showcased a few pieces from my collection in NYC. When the time is right, hopefully soon, I will launch a womens-wear line based on my style sensibility.

                                     Esosa with her fellow cast members.

We can't wait! Thanks so much and all the best with all your endeavors!

Thank you so much for the interview. Many Blessings!

You can visit her website herehttp://www.esosae.com/
Find out more about An African City: HERE

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