My first time on stage was embarrassing — Lilian Esoro
Lilian Esoro is a unique girl who never knew she would have a career in acting. Unlike many who dreamt or desired to become one, she set out just to give acting a trial but has turned out to be a famous actress. The Imo State-born beauty and a graduate of Business Administration from Unilag, is the last in a family of seven. She had her primary and secondary education in Lagos.
I really can't say but Extended Family was shot in 2006. So, I have been acting for four years. I actually didn't think that I was going to become an actress. It was my friend, Bobby, a producer that called me and said that there was something he wanted to put together and he wanted me to be part of it. Although when he said it was acting, I was not excited. I simply told him that I did not want to go into acting but he persuaded me. He told me that I could do it and I asked for the script. Even after that, I kept posting him each time it was time for audition. But after so many things, I got the role. I was auditioned to be Fida, which was the American speaking girl, in the soap. That was how it started. It was a bit challenging but I was able to surmount it.
Between 2006 and 2010
I have done quite a few. I played a role in Estates. I did a stage play during the National Museum Festival. I was Ayetu in that play. I also did one that they did not tell us the title. We just went on location and we shot. And then, Clinic Matters. I am currently on Tinsel, a South African product.
I am an event planner. I work with Corporate World Entertainment. We package events like AY Live. We also plan events like weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. We groom hostesses like ushers for events.
Actually, I never saw myself as an MC but it is also something I do alongside. I just concluded the Miss Moremi that was done at Unilag though I did not charge them. There are some things you do in life that you don't look at the monetary aspect but what you stand to gain from it. There are some jobs you do free and there some you get paid for. But some of them are very tricky. They would come and tell you that they are just upcomers, asking for your assistance, but when you see the whole lot of sponsors, you would know that they lied and cheated you.
I did not tell them because they never used to like anything acting. It took me time before I told them.They did not want any of their daughters to act. My parents are very strict when it comes to acting. They have always said that it is only prostitutes that act. They told me that I was a different person, from a Christian background, therefore, we shouldn't do this or that. When I made up my mind, I had to take the script to them. I read it for them to understand what the role was all about. I assured them that the role I was going to play would not bring shame to the family. They became convinced and gave their consent. When the first episode came out, they watched it and saw that it was a family thing and they enjoyed it. They asked me to carry on but warned that I should be careful of the kind of roles I pick.
Life as an actress
It has been interesting so far but there are some things you can't do anymore. It is interesting when it comes to publicity. There was a particular time my friend lost her Glo sim card, I told her that I know someone that works at Glo. When we got there, there was a huge crowd and I told my friend that we have to queue up. The lady at the counter just called me and when I got to her, it turned out that she recognised me as Fida in Extended Family. She asked what we came to do and I told her. Immediately, she attended to us. I jumped queue that day because of publicity. On the other hand, you can't do some things like buying plantain (boli), groundnut or roasted corn on the street. These are the things that I like eating but I can no longer buy them. Even my sisters keep reminding me that I am a super star, therefore, I should not be seen doing this and that. All the same, life as an actress has been very interesting.
It was Extended Family that brought me to limelight. I acted Fida, a friend to a particular family. She is the hot spot. Anytime she comes from America, she doesn't like visiting her parents who live in Abuja. She is always going to a General's house and along the line, she tries to rule the whole house. She likes proving that she is stronger than everybody. She was a very nice character. But it was really difficult because of the phonetic aspect.
First experience on set
I never knew how these things work. The first time, I had to go under the light and everything. I was so confident. Is it not just to read? I asked myself. And because I know how to cram when it comes to cramming, I was full of myself, but when the light came on, I had a camera fright and I lost everything. The whole lines went off. My saviour that day was Bobby. He was really helpful. He told me to take my time, feel free and forget the camera. He advised me to pretend as if it is everyday thing. He kept talking to me until I was able to do it. It was when he asked me to do it the way I relate with him that I gained my ground. That really helped but it wasn't easy. Along the line, I perfected it. I discovered that it is one thing to read the lines, and it is another to interpret it well.
I have never been harassed by anyone and I have never harassed any either.
Things she does not like
The public should take actors and actresses more seriously. They should understand that these things are acting. It is not based on real life. Most people see it as being real and they get to attach meaning to the characters. There was a character I played that I fought. One day, a lady came to me and was shouting at me. She was so furious. She wanted to fight me because she felt that since I liked to fight, she could give it to me. I thought she was going to beat me up that day. When I asked her what I did, she referred to that scene. I want the public to differentiate between acting and real life. The perspective of the viewers watching these things should change. At the same time, we actors and actresses should comport ourselves in an ideal.
I would say that it was fun. My parents won't allow you to go out. The driver had to stay with us. From the house, he would take us to school and back to the house. It was just like that. Again, my father's kind of job as a clearing and forwarding agent was moving us around. We have never stayed in a place for so long. I attended about five primary schools before I came out of primary school. But basically, it was fun for me.
Most embarrassing moment
It was the day I went to the club with my friends. All eyes were on us. We were coming down the staircase and I was just cat-walking. The next thing, my heels went off. I almost went face down to the floor but thank God it didn't happen. Everybody was just saying sorry.
Coping with male admirers
It is by God's grace that I handle them when they come.
People's reactions towards her
Nigerian people behave in a funny manner. But it is not their fault. They have refused to understand that sometimes one may not be in a mood to say hello to them. They should stop feeling that we are pompous. When it comes to us, there is nothing stopping us from smiling at them. But there are two sides to it. Someone might feel that if I walk up to her, she may give me this snobby attitude and I will feel embarrassed. Instead, let me admire from afar. While some of them would be bold to say that they love my shows. Moreover, you get to see male fans more on the female side because women are more envious. The male fans can walk up to you, give you a smile and a hug but it is not so with the female.
What life has taught her
It has taught me to be very patient. In life, you can't please everyone no matter how hard you try. If you talk, they would say that you are talking too much and if you keep quiet, they would say that you are being snobbish. Life has taught me to deal with people of different manners and to be very patient.
Advice from mother
My mother advised me to always be myself. But sometimes, I get to go against that because when you try to be yourself, people get to take advantage of that. Take for instance, I am a very friendly person, but when you want to be friendly, some people would count it as being loose. Nevertheless, being one's self has always been the best thing to do. She taught me to do to others what I would like them to do to me. That is a philosophy of life anyway. It has helped me come a long way and she never fails to remind me of the family I come from.
Joke Sylva is my role model. When she acts, she soaks and immerses herself into that character. When she is interpreting it, you will feel goose pimples all over you. When she is talking and acting, you would know that she is good. I love her lifestyle too.
I aspire to be like my mum. She is this kind of person that can sacrifice everything for some other person. She is also God-fearing and reserved. If she has only N1,000 and you come to her with a problem, she won't mind giving you the whole money just to put smile on your face. I pray to be like her.
My ideal man must be God-fearing, cute and hardworking. He must have something doing too.
I am into a relationship, but I don't wish to go into details.
I have not seen anything that would make me quit. Even my husband cannot stop me. In fact, before anything happens, we would sit down and discuss. He must know what I am doing. If it is not okay by him, he would go his way, but if it is okay, we can go ahead. But no man can stop me from doing what gives me joy.
I intend to go far in acting. I want to be like Kate Henshaw that won the best actress of the year. Someday too, I get to win Oscar's award. I want to be one of Nigeria's top actresses to be reckoned with. Everywhere they see my face or hear my name, people would say that of a truth, she has done a good job for herself. I hope to get my clothing line. I want to have different things working for me.
I dress with what suits my mood. I may decide to go very casual. But sometimes, I dress gorgeously that when I pass, people would know that someone has passed. I dress also to suit the occasion I am going for.
Presenting AY show
AY and I have known each other way back. Corporate World Entertainment too has started since his school days but when he came to Lagos, he needed to do something. So, he needed a presenter. He told me and I decided to give it a trial. Before then, I have never done anything like that.
I was not paid for the first five episodes because the company was just coming up. I talked with them and we agreed to keep the dream alive. That was it and till date, I have been his number one presenter.