Alex Okoroji: Women work fifty times harder to gain respect
Alex Okoroji is a Nigerian actress, writer, TV Personality, Talk Radio Host, Speaker, Author, Self-help Mentor & Founder of THE NAKED MOVEMENT & THE NAKED BLISS ACADEMY. Alex went through a failed marriage and a series of traumatic relationships but she has come out stronger and is all for self-empowerment and transformation. In this interview with WOR, she speaks on her passion, challenges women face in the entertainment industry, and how she combines her many interests.
Growing Up and The Love For Arts. I grew up in a creative household, my father being a performing musician and my mother being a fashion designer, made our house filled with a library of music, movies, books and fashion accessories. I remember one of My father’s first valentines gift to my mother was a mills and boons novel in the 1979…I think… And I found it in a pile of book clutter, 20 years ago and I kept it with me.
The truth is, I grew up surrounded by artists and attended several events and award ceremonies organised by my father. And as a child growing up, I was in my School’s Social Club. I was part of the atilogu dance troop, atiero, yoruba ; igbo cultural troops in primary school (my mother’s yellow fish eye wrapper was one of my favourite costumes) and I was the pink house March past queen.
In secondary school (FGGC Akure), I was a green house princess for our interhouse sport, a cup bearer, the only junior student in Drama Club, Music Club and Press Club all at the same time. I moved to back to my old school in Festac…And I represented my school in inter school debates…inter-lit dance offs. I was miming, choreographing, writing short stories, performing sequences, creating designs and entertaining my entire school. Despite graduating in the sciences. The Arts was where I had always truly belonged.
Discovering My Passion For Acting
After I saw Lauryn Hill in the musical – Sister Act in 1991. And a line Whoopi Goldberg said to her in the movie captured my heart. I knew when I looked into the mirror, the only person I saw starring back at me was an Artiste. And I could act, sing, write and do every creative thing I wanted to do.But the real light bulb moment came many years later, in 2005 when I mysteriously took part in the maiden edition of the Television Reality Show – Amstel Malta Box Office (AMBO). To go through all the amazing trainings; performance classes and to hear my coach RMD, say in an interview, that I would be one of the last females standing and to hear director, Jeta Amata talk about how captivating my eyes are in front of the camera. It was the boost I needed to follow through on my passion.
Other Projects and Activities
Well, my career has totally evolved over the years…And I myself has evolved as an Artiste into what I can now call an “Expressionist” – because I use different mediums of the Art to Express myself/talent whether in front of the Camera, On Radio or via my Writing. So apart from being an Actor, I am also a professional writer, (Screenplay, Songwriter, Poetry and Prose), I also write self-help articles on my personal blog www.AlexOkoroji.net.I’m also An Advocate for EXPRESSION and Multi-Platform Ambassador for Self Empowerment and Transformation – which is why I recently founded the virtual community – ALEX’S BLOG COMMUNITY (ABC) and The Naked Bliss Academy. A membership platform where individuals or groups can acquire new skills online, expand their minds and re-invent themselves.
Challenges of Being A Woman in The Entertainment Industry
We all know a woman has to work 50 times harder than a man, to truly earn her respect in the Entertainment industry. Even as a Creative Entrepreneur, there is a general prejudice that a woman probably only needs the fame and not the money…or that if a woman is building a significant brand, she must be giving sexual favours or will be open to giving sexual favours. And many will test you to see where you belong. Holding on to your values while being compared to other seemingly successful people without cutting corners, can be tough. And most times, your hard work, creative ideas, business sass and dedication is ridiculed by defining you simply based on how you look and who they think you know. That for me is a challenge.
Impact of Being the Daughter of ex PMAN president
Well, being the daughter of a man as accomplished as my father, has impacted me a lot personally… because I have learned great lessons from watching him manage his career ; his personal brand, I have also picked up similar habits as regards my working ethics ; values… And professionally, I have great antecedents, so people transfer the respect they have for my father to me. But it also creates a lot of pressure, because the expectations for me to live up to his incredible legacy, are high. Apparently, I have big shoes to fill. But I have chosen to wear my own shoes and leave my own prints on the sand of time.
The greatest reward has been connecting with global influencers from around the world and having a global community of people who truly value and support my work.Last year, I was Spotlighted for ‘Consciousness Raiser’ by Award Winning American Author of the book “Once The Storm Is Over” and; Founder of Living Enlightened -NINA BINGHAM and Co-nominated by Popular, American Citizen’s Advocate – JOAN TREPPA. I was shocked even though they had both been former guests on my show, because it was totally unsolicited, especially living here in Africa and being appreciated for trying to use my platforms to empower others to be more Aware and; live an Authentic life. I was also featured for my writing, by a prestigious writing journal ‘RB Magazine’ as Blogger of the Month, last year. In 2009, Actress, Stella Damasus was nominated for a movie I wrote, at the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA). That felt good. And yes, It’s feels good to be acknowledged, nominated even awarded. But nothing beats a personal Email or text written to me by a guest, listener, reader, fan or follower thanking me for impacting their lives. And I get these in droves everyday. That for me is the biggest reward. That people can reach out to you and give first person account of how you are positively influence their lives.
Managing The Different Facets of My Career
Honestly, I don’t know how I do it all. I guess God takes the credit. People ask me all the time, how I’m able to manage all my creative endeavours. I’m busy round the clock. I sleep just an average of 3 to 4 hours every day. But I guess a woman has got to do what a woman has to do. When you are passionate about what you do, you honestly never have to “work” a day in your life. I get overwhelmed because I wish there was more than 24 hours a day, but I love the challenge.
Interest in Politics
Honestly, I doubt I’m going to be running for any office in the future, I don’t exactly consider myself to be political, because I’m a little too straight forward, too open. And I know my kind of people find it a tad difficult to fit into a dysfunctional and ; chaotic system . But I have also learned never to say NEVER.My interest in politics right now is related to my incessant belief, that we all as citizens should be involved in the polity, conversations and actualization of policies that govern our community. And of course we need more women in government and in leadership positions to create parity in the system.
I am A Woman of Rubies
I’m a woman of rubies because I’m not ashamed to be Authentic. I’m not afraid to embrace myself as the imperfect jewel that I am. I’m a woman of rubies because I’m not afraid to EXPRESSIVE, confident in my own skin and proud to be a woman of purpose.
Well, I would just say that Expression is a sign of Strength, not weakness. It may sound like simple basics words. But as an Advocate who has witnessed the power of Expression, it is my responsibility to remind people not to be ashamed of who they are, what they are feeling or thinking…and that there is an immense power in your voice. When you speak, you become intentional by commanding all your desires into existence.You have a VOICE…Use it! Speak up! And keep speaking, even if your message echos… Stay speaking, until people have no choice but to finally LISTEN.