Linda Ejiofor: From Tinsel to stardom

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Linda Ejiofor, one of the promising Nollywood stars, is famed for her role in the popular TV soap, Tinsel. Bimpe, as she is fondly called by her fans, is currently one of the Nollywood’s delights. The actress, who landed her first movie role recently in a movie called The Meeting, has been enjoying attention from all quarters. In this interview with MUTIAT ALLI, the graduate of Sociology from the University of Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, speaks about her foray into the world of make-believe, her experience on her first movie set, among other interesting issues.

Excerpts:

What was growing up like for you?
It was the best childhood ever. I mean I had fun and I’m happy that my parents gave birth to more kids because if they did not have more kids, I won’t be playing with brothers and sisters.

What memories of your childhood days do you love the most?
First, we are five. I had brothers and sisters who I could talk to and play with. I also had my father who told us folktales at night, you know all those things at night when you are sleeping or you are about to go to bed and there is no light and you just surround your father. My father told us stories. He said: “This is what we usually got when we were in the village with our parents and children will surround us, we gather around and tell us stories”. My father told us stories and we learnt a lot from the tortoise and the lion and monkeys and we sang some songs, some folktale songs and it’s not like what children get now, it’s not the same thing, and I pray that my father sees his grandchildren because I will so love him to say those stories to them because I could not remember how to sing those songs but I will love for him to sing those songs to them.
How did your journey into acting start?

Before I entered the University of Port-Harcourt, Rivers State to study Sociology, I had done a diploma course in Theatre Arts at the University of Ibadan, Oyo State. I think I was at the University of Ibadan for about three months. However, when I was getting into the groove and enjoying it, my father pulled me out. He said, ‘No daughter of mine will go into acting’. You know, if God has a plan for you, His plan will always set the motion. So, here I am as an actress again with his full support and I have made him proud.

How did you come to play Bimpe in Tinsel?

At first, I hated the character, the role and everything about her because she was just dumb. When I read my script and saw all the stupid things she had to do and the stupid questions she asked, I just concluded that she was dumb and sarcastic. She was supposed to know the answers to the questions, but she never got it. So, I was always complaining to the director. But the writer kept telling me to enjoy the character. He would say the only way to love the character is to enjoy the character; and before I knew it, I started enjoying the character. So, I had to go and watch a lot of dumb movies like ‘Legally Blonde’. At a point, I had to go and watch ‘Devil Wears Prada’ because I had to be Brenda’s P.A. I had to research on how to be like these people.

On Tinsel set, we have this Bimpe with sharp mouth; is that the real Linda in real set?
Those are the writers, they are the ones writing this thing, but Linda Iheoma Ejiofor, is that how I am in real life? I wouldn’t lie, sometimes am a talkative, sometimes my mum would be like slowdown, am not hearing what you are saying and my siblings talk too fast too.

So, how are you enjoying the role?

This is almost eight years and I don’t even have to watch anything. Somehow, I have become the Bimpe, but not the dumb, blunt side; I just go and play my role. I know how she is going to react, her looks and her facial expression.

Let’s talk about your role in ‘The Meeting’ movie. Is there any of your real person in that character? You played it effortlessly like it was you?
Actually that character was hard for me to bring out. The director kept pushing and telling me what to do and kept directing me on how she wanted the character to be; she knew that being on Tinsel for like two or three years then. So I had Bimpe written all over me in character and everything, so whenever I was in front of the camera and the director screams action, automatically I just act as Bimpe but thank God Mildred was there to tell me that was not Ejira and that is not the character I wanted you to portray.

So, what’s your dream role now?

I’ve always wanted to try multi-personality disorder. In other words, I will like act two or three people at the same time. Yes, it is not easy, but it’s something I will love to play because I think being good is overrated. Too many people are playing good roles; so, I want to do something else.

Are your parents not bent on your getting married soon?

When the right man comes, I will get married.

Tinsel over the years has provided platforms for new couples. Will Tinsel provide you a man someday?
Are you serious? Hmm, you mean that platform would provide me a man in Tinsel or outside Tinsel. If God says this is who I am to marry on Tinsel, who am I to say no.
What qualities are you looking for? 

God fearing, smart man who listens and can tell me the truth that even if I didn’t want to hear it, I need to hear it, he would stand by me and give me advice when I’m wrong.
Would you say at this point in your career that you have arrived?
No, I haven’t, and I have not learnt anything yet and I’m still learning. It’s the same way they say life is a learning process. So, I’m still learning, I haven’t arrived and I’m nowhere arrived.
The industry then before you joined Nollywood and what the industry is playing now, would you say there are changes?
Yes I would say they had been one or two changes and actors are being recognised now and people are looking at actors differently. We are coming for premiers for crying out loud, we go to the cinema, we watch the movies, we do meet and greet and we do autograph signing. It’s getting better and I’m grateful to God that it’s my era that this kind of thing is happening and I’m thankful to the older pioneers and older actors who made it easy for us to come this far.

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