Hi guys, today we have with us Blessing Jessica Obasi, she’s an actor and producer. Blessing Jessica Obasi works at D’Esperanza media that has about 7 movies under their belt. She has such a story to tell and is full of wisdom. Enjoy;
PRESH: Please for formalities sake, introduce yourself to our readers
BLESSING: My name is Blessing Jessica Obasi, I’m an actor and a producer at D’esperanza media.
PRESH: Nice to have you here ma’am. Tell us about D’esperanza media and what you do there.
BLESSING: D’esperanza media is a production company. We make films and also shoot ADs for companies. So what do I do there? I’m the executive producer.
PRESH: You attended UNILAG where you studied industrial relations and personnel management. How and why did you sort of reroute to media
BLESSING: I’ve actually liked media and wanted to do media even before I got into UNILAG. It started way back, going for random auditions here and there. My mum got really pissed once, I went for an audition, met random people at the audition ground. I was carrying my natural hair so they were going to a salon and I followed, put small relaxer and blew it out, trying to look fine.
I did that and got home hmm, my mother beat Lucifer out of my body that day. She took me to a barbing salon and they barbed me gorimapa. She told me to focus on my studies and finishing secondary school. While waiting for admission into UNILAG, I negotiated with her, she gave permission do this till I gained admission.
I starred in a couple of those films then as an extra, some, I did like 5 scenes, but I did plenty waka pass. Ah, I did waka pass ehn, life almost waka pass me.
PRESH: So, did you continue when you gained admission? and how did you cope with both?
BLESSING: I got in school and I continued in my 100 level. At the end of 100 level, my GPA was like 2 point something. So, nobody advise me, only me advise myself, to go and look for my GPA towards Lagoon front which was where it was headed at the time. So, that was how I stopped after 100 level and faced school. In fact, my mum had told me, you know what, just face school, after school, I’d allow you do what you want to do.
Then, from my 400 level in school, I already knew I wanted to do media and entertainment. So I reached out to Helen Paul, we knew each other in school. So, I told her, I wanted to work for her, be her PA. She was a bit skeptical because there was familiarity, but I assured her that I could handle it and won’t cross any lines.
So, she was gracious enough give it a shot and that was it. From that moment, it was an employer-employee relationship. Although, I still enjoyed the privilege of having her like a sister, I didn’t mix relationship with work.
PRESH: So, how long did you work with her and did you use your certificate at all ?
BLESSING: I worked with her for a bit before NYSC. Then, I worked with one of the top 3 oil and gas companies in Nigeria after then, but I left after 18 months or thereabouts. At a time there, I was partly doing film and then there was small Gbas Gbos in the office. I left work, I went to shoot, long story short, my boss said I had to choose between acting and work.
So me I was still trying to beg him and all of that, he now out of concern asked to speak to my parent, he spoke to my mum and was like “oh, I’m really disappointed in you that you’re supporting your daughter to do this thing, this is bad, these actors end up and prostitutes, instead of you to teach her to face her work and get married bla bla bla”.
So my mum felt insulted and was like you know what, if this is what you want to do, I gat you, leave the job.
PRESH: Did you do any other office job after oil and gas or was it all filming from then?
BLESSING: I was working for Moses Inwang after I left oil and gas. Mostly, it wasn’t even acting because I wasn’t really getting gigs but I was doing anything behind the scene, logistics, location manager, anything. My best friend who was also my flatmate at the time didn’t like the fact that I wasn’t earning as much as I was earning in oil and gas and I had said it’s this acting thing. People even felt maybe there’s one jazz from village or village people were blowing me powder, maybe that was why I was misbehaving. So, she went for an interview somewhere, she didn’t get the job so she recommended me for the job and submitted my CV.
I was invited, I went for the interview so as not to offend her and funny enough I had received other offers from places she had submitted my CV but I really never went. This particular one though, the offer was so good, you know like a proper Admin manager for a company in Ikoyi. I had my own office, I was going to be given an official car in 3 months, it was a ridiculous offer so I took it. My friends had even thrown me a celebration party the day I collected my offer letter. The salary was really great too, it was close to what I was earning in oil and gas.
But, in a month, I resigned because I wasn’t happy, that wasn’t what I wanted to do, so I left.
I really didn’t care about the job, I just resume, log on to Iroko TV, send messengers to get me lunch etc., I just knew I wasn’t giving values so if I collect salary ehn, maybe thunder can strike me one day. So I just told my boss like I’m done, in fact, I tried coming late consecutively, I was nonchalant hoping the man would just tell me GO, but the man didn’t want to chase me. He was even asking me; is there anything you want me to do better? So I just told him I wanted to leave, he was like why and I said I’m sorry I have to go. Then they tried paying me off, gave me cheque which I refused because I knew I didn’t deserve it and that was the end of 9-5 for me.
PRESH: What’s the story behind D’Esperanza media?
BLESSING: I started to full time audition, and some times when i didn’t get roles, if I had the opportunity, I worked behind the camera. I did most things except for being the cinematographer, the main costumier, make up artist, sound editor and director. I did Production manager, continuity etc., I did a couple of jobs. Then, I had the opportunity to meet Zainab Sheriff of Zedzee Productions, I did the continuity and I was also the production manager for some of her jobs in Sierra Leone.
Then I registered D’Esperanza media and it felt like I was ready for life.
I just got back from Sierra Leone then, then this guy Austine Nwaolie, he was the Cinematographer on the last job I shot in Sierra Leone, that’s ‘elephant in the room’. He was like “I like your energy, the way you work for people, you do people’s work like it’s yours”.
He just encouraged me to shoot a short film. With the whole new year Ginger in 2014, I did my short film ‘3 Peas in a pod’, It’s on Iroko TV. And that was how I forgot myself in the industry, the hustle from there. I used 3 peas in a pod as an attachment to proposals that I sent out to people to raise money for my first feature film which is CLUELESS. Since Clueless, it’s been God’s grace from glory to glory and from 2015 till now D’Esperanza media has 7 films from our stables.
PRESH: Interesting, tell us about your journey as an actor
BLESSING: As an actor, Blessing Jessica Obasi has been in plenty films to the glory of God and I’m just starting. It has been challenging, adventurous but very rewarding.
PRESH: Did you feel the pressure of graduating and not putting those years in much practice, after you picked acting over office work?
BLESSING: It’s something that has always been there, it has always been in me, it has always been what I wanted to do really. At some point it was just like lemme just get this certificate for my mother, because I’m an only child. So lemme do that and now chase the real deal. One of the encounters that helped me resolve to leave my job, I remember one time when my pastor, Pastor Godman Akinlabi of Elevation church had a teaching and all I took from that teaching that day was that “Success is really not about how much money you have or you make, it’s about doing what you love and then you earn from doing it”.
The start doesn’t have to be rosy, sometimes it’s really really tough. Sometimes you do a lot of free jobs, people look down on you, they don’t take you serious but keep at it, trust God, imbibe the spirit of excellence, just try to be better than you were last time. Learn the curves, improve on your skills. I just knew that me Blessing Jessica Obasi this is it for me, this is my happy place, Entertainment especially as a filmmaker, either in front or behind the camera, it’s my happy place. I’ve always known, I just needed to get some things off the way then now plunge in totally. So that’s how I got here.
PRESH: Did you at some point feel like you were taking too much risks going out of those jobs? Did you feel like if film didn’t work out you’d blame yourself?
BLESSING: I was just determined that if others can make it I this industry then me too I can.
PRESH: Where did you grow up? Tell us about your childhood, growing up generally.
BLESSING: I’m an only child and my childhood was just basic. I was born in Kano, I went back and fort between Kano and Lagos and completed my primary school in Kano. Then, I attended African church model college, Ifako in Lagos before I transferred to Federal government girls’ college in Umuahia, Abia state to complete my secondary school.
Growing up was just my mum, whatever nanny was with us at the time to take care of me and I. It wasn’t the silver spoon kind of childhood but it wasn’t bad. I went to the best of schools, I probably just did not go to the abroad. I went to really really good schools so you’d think I was from a very rich home. I’d say I had a ‘stainless like silver spoon’ childhood
PRESH: Apart from Helen Paul and Moses Inwang, who are the other people in the industry that had a major impact in your career
BLESSING: Apart from Helen and Moses Inwang, major impact in my career would be Niyi Akinmolayan and Biodun Stephen. I didn’t work for them like I worked for Moses and Helen like be their staff or something but knowing Mr. Niyi Akinmolayan like 5 years ago on a one on one basis taught me so much
Being deliberate about the spirit of excellence in my films…
As a company, basically, regardless of the challenges. Being consistent in my pursuit of excellence at my kind of movies regardless of the challenges.
Then Biodun Stephen, me working for her as an actor, I learnt a lot of things about being a better producer, I learnt how to plan better. You know how some times, someone is learning from you and you don’t even know. I’m not really sure she knows how much of an impact she’s had on me and my productions. So, I’ve learnt so much about production planning and paying more attention to the smallest things, being deliberate in planning and execution. Aunty Biodun went to a proper film school in the abroad to learn producing, so I borrowed plenty leaves from her exercise book
PRESH: Tell us about your experience shooting your first film, the challenges you encountered and how you overcame
BLESSING: My first project was stressful, it was directed by Desmond Elliot and Robert Peters. As I said before, I did a short film first called “3 Peas in a pod”. I put it in my proposal to raise funds for my first film called “Clueless”. It wasn’t easy but I had support systems like Blossom Chukwujekwu, Desmond Elliot, Niyi Akinmolayan and Victoria Akujobi. Anthill studios generally, they did my post production for me for free. This was from a place of haven seen me go through hell and back on the project. All the disappointments, proper scams here and there, they said let’s just help this young girl that is trying so hard to make it in life.
Then, I know I spent a bit over 8 million naira on clueless because I wanted to do it really good. I was even planning to take it to the cinema at the time.
Personally, my mantra is that the things I do not like and I complain about in this industry, I want to be that change, you know I want to right the wrongs in things.
I try to be excellent in whatever I do. That was what happened with clueless, because I could have just used small money to do one small film but I went all out. At the time I had like all the major people in my film, Blossom Chukwujekwu, Iyabo Ojo, Uti Nwackukwu, Mike Godson, Zainab Sheriff from Big brother Africa, in fact there was a struggle of how many faces to put on the poster.
Through all of that, it wasn’t easy because I didn’t make my money back, few things went wrong some people tried to sabotage the project but in all of these I saw the hand of God.
With everything that happened I was still able to sell it on platforms that you won’t even imagine…
At the time Iroko just came, they also called me two weeks after they had first bought it and said they wanted to buy the cable TV right again, paid me again. Africa magic bought it about a year after and other amazing deals also came through. So that’s what happens when you do good stuff, no matter how old it gets, it still pays off. I still sell clueless till now, all those internet non-exclusive right here and there.
So it just taught me that whatever you do, do well. Try and be excellent at whatever you find yourself doing. With all the problems, strike and start over many times, some actors disappointed. I still had to pay back my investors. Your problem is your problem, they want their money back. I had to pay, which was where the challenge was. I remember one of them that really frustrated me. She would come to my house at 5 a.m., shout, scream, embarrass me, it wasn’t easy for me.
I got depressed for a few months…
My neighbor at the time was a pretty helpful, nice girl. She reached out to me, said she noticed something. Long and short, I went back to work. I worked for Nutrition associates, a Nigerian dealership of an American company called Salad master. I was there for two years, I put in everything and I made so much money that I paid all my debts with the interest. After a year and half from doing that, I started doing side gigs again, acting here and there. Although it was good at Nutrition associates, I won an award, they sent me to Dubai all expenses paid, put me in a 7-star hotel, I really enjoyed it, but I had to leave. That was after I saved up enough though, because then I went back to film fully, I started producing again with D’Esperanza media.
PRESH: Tell us the story of how you rose again and the films you did after clueless
BLESSING: When I came back in 2017, there’s a lady called Taiwo Adebayo of Bossteewo filmworks. She was very helpful and instrumental in helping me back into movie producing and I will never forget that. I met her at The Place restaurant one evening. We got talking and she was like you haven’t done anything since your last film, it was great.
By the way, people absolutely loved clueless. I’d be in the market and people would just hug me, oh, your film blessed my marriage, it healed my marriage. So speaking with Taiwo, I explained what happened and she was like in life when you fall, you rise again. I told her how much I had saved and she gave me the vibe to start again. Then, I had like 70% money to make film, so I reached out to an investor.
I wrote a proposal, it got approved, I got the funds and that was how I started…
I did ‘Dirty dirtier’, few months after I did ‘Binta Kolonko’, then ‘The recipients’, ‘Splits’, I did ‘nothing more’, ‘April 4th’, ‘Poor ish’, that’s yet to be released. It’s coming on ROK in September.
So since that 2017, it’s just been grace. That’s the Journey and this is where I am now. I got to rock bottom, got depressed, was sick, had high BP but I picked myself up, found a way forward. And the thing is God would always see when you’re ready and show up for you. So, God bless Taiwo, she helped me, pushed me, encouraged me. She managed my production of Dirty dirtier and Binta Kolonko. Afterwards I’ve been doing my stuff all by myself. She is still always a support system every time I call on her for anything.
PRESH: Are there any projects you’re currently working on?
BLESSING: As an actor, I just finished a series for ROK TV, created and directed by Biodun Stephen. It’s called ‘Tough love’ I played the lead character Ije Baby. I’m working on a couple of other projects too.
As a producer, we’re filming 2 films soon. 1 this month Titled Black hearts, it would star Blossom Chukwujekwu, myself, Ebele Okaro and some others.
PRESH: What next for Blessing Jessica Obasi and D’Esperanza media?
BLESSING: Loke loke for me. I’m just at the point where I’m working to have the spirit of excellence in me. I treat every project, whether it’s mine or not as a privilege. I do it like it is my first, like it’s the one I’d do to make a statement. No project is small; everyone is a blessing from God. One thing I’m happy and expectant about is Castle and Castle season 2. I played Abigail in Season 1 so I’m expecting it. My own is to do my best and trust God for opportunities. And with that comes preparation because I have to be ready when the opportunities come. For D’Esperanza, we’re working towards having our first Box office film in 2021. We’d be doing a partnership with Anthill studios hopefully.
PRESH: How would you advise someone hoping to explore and succeed your line of work?
BLESSING: My advice would be to always be prepared. Improve on yourself daily because opportunities can come at any time. Never look down on any opportunity or think it’s just one scene or just two scenes. I did one film with Uduak Isong, it’s called ‘two steps back’. A scene from the film went viral where I warned Desmond’s character, I spoke Warri and all. That was like the second time and how did I get the role? I had done something for her, 1 scene, secretary and I put in my all. I was already a producer when she called me but still I put in my best.
I didn’t even know that was when she had decided to cast me for the role in ‘Two steps back’ where I had like 12-15 scenes. Humility is very important and whatever religion you believe in, hold on to God.
Talent isn’t everything…
Yes, I tried to be better, but majorly it’s been God’s grace that has spoken for me till now. Also, you don’t just fold your hands and wait for grace to do it all. Step in the blue waters and watch grace hold you on. It is never easy, it’s not a walk in the park so brace yourself up. Also, don’t allow room for pride or entitlement mentality, nobody owes you anything. Give room for improvement, hold on to God to orchestrate your opportunities.
You don’t have to lobby, you don’t have to sleep with anybody, you don’t have to bleach to be like anybody. Be you…
Treat every project like this is my 1 opportunity in life to show that I deserve this. If you sleep with anybody for a role, they would still dump you. They’d gist about it, analyze your body and still not give you the role. Even if they give you, it won’t last. Is that how you’d be sleeping for every role? So why start it?
So if me, this local girl that people said is too fat, too ugly to be in front of the camera can get this far by God’s grace, forget, there’s nobody that cannot be anything. Your dreams are valid, chase them with so much tenacity. Have the spirit of excellence as your mantra. Trust the grace of God to show up for you and in deed, it will.
PRESH: Thank you so much, I really enjoyed this
BLESSING: I’m glad
PRESH: Peace ✌
Follow Blessing Jessica Obasi on instagram @blessingjessicaobasi
What’s life without a few risks here and there? Do you know how it feels when you risk it all, feel like all hope is lost and then it happens all of a sudden? Think about it. Ire oo 🥂