Why I left Canada for Nigeria – Linda Osifo
She is a Nigerian actress and television host. She was first runner-up Miss Nigeria Entertainment Canada 2011 and 2nd runner up Miss AfriCanada 2011 beauty pageant. In 2015, Linda Osifo became a Nollywood talent to be reckoned with when she was nominated for the ELOY awards for her role in the hit TV series, Desperate Housewives. In this interview with Omolara Akintoye, she speaks on why she relocated from Canada to Nigeria and challenges.
Why did you relocate from Canada to Nigeria when others are moving the opposite direction, seeking greener pastures?
I like that question. In life, a lot of people have choices and many also don’t have choices. I was amongst those people who had a choice to either stay in Canada and pursue the so-called greener pastures or to come to Nigeria and pursue my passion, which was to be an actor. So, I made the choice of pursuing my passion and losing my greener pastures of what I wanted to do: to be an actor in Nigeria.
Did you encounter some challenges along the line?
Of course I did. Who doesn’t have challenges in life? I definitely had my challenges to the point where I asked myself was I sure about this? Have I made the worst decision in my life? I was on the verge of either moving forward or going back. I had the challenges of either relocating back to Nigeria as a whole, adjusting to the society, the culture, and to a lot of things that I was not used to for such a long time. I had challenges in my field of course trying to breakthrough, trying to make people see my talent, trying to find opportunities; challenges of discrimination, setbacks, gender, and even individuals trying to take advantage of someone.
How did you cope with these challenges?
Well, I always had to remind myself the reason why I came here; that I’m not here to play, that I had options, so it wasn’t a do-or-die affair. However, I didn’t put these options on my forehead, but I knew inside of me that I had options. So, I wasn’t willing to do the worst things that could possibly come my way, I was not willing to be desperate for many things. That, iatself, was a way that I can cope with a lot of temptations, distractions. One major thing I did was to put everything in God’s hands. I’ll definitely say that spirituality has helped me a lot. Mentally, it has given me strength, it has made me overcome being depressed, feeling weary and doubtful about what I said I wanted to do.
What are the things that you treasure most in life?
The things I treasure most in life starts with my family. Secondly, the opportunity to be alive each day and achieve my dreams. Also another thing I treasure most in life is being able to do whatever I want to do at any point in time. I’m thankful for that.
What and who inspired you to go into acting and entertainment industry?
Well, let me start that at the age of 13 years I had my first school theatre play where I played the role of Mary in a school Christmas Show. And at that age I was deeply involved in church youth group; I was the vice president in the youth department. I was one of the coordinators of the drama and dance department in my church. So, these were things I grew up with. However, I felt that acting came naturally to me and I discovered that I’m happy whenever I’m in the presence of people; I was never shy, always outspoken. And for the likes of people such as Genevieve, Rita Dominic, Ini Edo, Omotola, Kate Henshaw, I always looked up to them that I wanted to be like them. So, it was a passion from the beginning.
How was growing up like, your family background and how has it contributed to what you are today?
I wasn’t born with a golden spoon. My parents were hardworking; they had made sure that they created a comfortable environment for me to be raised in. They ensured that I saw what hard work and sacrifice looked like; and I was able to have the right environment for me while I was growing up. This, no doubt, has contributed a lot to my life because it has made me to be who and what I’m. It has disciplined me and I know how to work very hard. I was born in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria. I moved to Canada at the age of 16 but I spent most of my adult years in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, before relocating to Lagos, Nigeria, to pursue my acting career. I’m the first daughter and middle child of my family. After graduating from St Thomas Aquinas High School, I obtained my Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology from York University in Toronto Canada in 2013. Because I knew where we came from, I was raised in Benin and I knew the kind of background that I had while growing up and I knew all the dramas that I went through in my childhood. So my parents had ensured that they work extremely hard so that we have a better life than they actually did. So that has been a very important impact that has made me Linda Osifo.
When was the turning point for you?
The turning point for me was in 2015 when I got my first big break with the TV Series called ‘Desperate Wives Africa”. It was a turning point for me because I felt I had started living my dreams. I felt that I got an opportunity to be able to express and display my talent and at that moment I was being recognised as a new face in Nollywood; that was the turning point for me.
You studied Psychology but you never practiced, why?
I studied Psychology at a university in Canada. However, I never got to practice it why because I relocated to Lagos, Nigeria, immediately after I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. I didn’t want to pursue it further to get my doctorate because at that point I had made up my mind to relocate back to Nigeria and follow my passion of acting.
I had my debut acting role in 2012 when I starred in Family Secrets in New Jersey. Upon my return to Nigeria in late 2013, I starred in my first Nollywood film, King Akubueze. I also featured in the popular Nigerian soap opera Tinsel as ‘Nina Fire’. In 2017, I played the role of Adesuwa Dakolo in EbonyLife’s spin-off drama series, Fifty and Africa Magic’s television series Jemeji, playing the role of Noweyhon; the list is endless.
What is your definition of style?
Style, to me, is being yourself, defining yourself, being comfortable in whom you are and how you decide to express yourself. Style, to me, is your personality and being able to express yourself without talking.
What are the things you won’t do in the name of fashion?
I love fashion very much. However, I won’t go naked in the name of fashion.
Any plan to go into politics?
I’ve never been asked such questions before but never say never; youth are tomorrow’s leaders. All I would say is never say never.
Do you believe in mentorship and do you have any mentor?
Yes I do, we all need to be inspired, we all need to learn; to be motivated. There is nothing as good as looking up to individuals who have gone through a path or journey that you are aspiring to go on or that you are in at the moment. As per whether I have specific mentors, well I wouldn’t say that I have any particular name but I look up to good people, beginning from my mother to those people around me who are workers and to great icons like Oprah Winfrey. I look up to men and women who are generally doing great in their field, breaking barriers and conquering their own industry.
What is your advice to upcoming artistes?
My advice is that they should trust the process. In other words, have faith in what you are going through at the moment. It may not be easy, you may not even see yourself making any progress but if you can trust the process, the journey, the moment, yourself and the Almighty God, what you are doing at that moment will surely pay off; you would overcome everything and you would get there. Even though it takes long and it seems so difficult, or nobody is giving you any opportunity, just trust the process.
What has life taught you?
Where do I start from? I would say we learn everyday and I’m still learning, but one thing I know that life has taught me is not to worry too much about the things that I cannot solve with the strand of my hair. Life has taught me not to worry about tomorrow that we just don’t know.