BY SUSAN FIELD
Osas Ighodaro’s experiences at Penn State helped shape her into the independent person that she is today. The once-timid freshman, who chose Penn State Altoona for her first two years because it was small, comfortable, and felt like home, has blossomed into an international actress and host , who jet sets between New York and Nigeria, living her dreams.
“Coming from a small high school in New York, I was nervous about coming to college and being overwhelmed and getting lost,” says Ighodaro during a phone interview from Lagos, Nigeria. “Penn State Altoona was a good fit because it was more of a family-type feeling, but I still had to learn to do everything on my own, and from there, that independent quality in me just continued to develop.”
While at Penn State Altoona, Ighodaro, a Bronx-native who is a first-generation Nigerian-American, participated in the STEP team, the Black Student Union, and was crowned Miss Penn State Altoona. She majored in broadcast journalism and minored in entrepreneurship and theatre.
After graduating in 2005, Ighodaro moved to New York City to pursue acting. She changed her stage name from her given name, Martha, to her middle name, Osas. Osas mean’s “God’s gift” in Nigerian.
“People have always told me that I don’t look like a Martha, and when people heard my middle name, they always asked what it meant and it turned into a conversation starter. By changing my name to Osas, I was also bringing my Nigerian-heritage into my acting,” Ighodaro says.
Ighodaro landed small roles on episodes of Law & Order, Conviction—a Law & Order spin-off series, and Meet the Browns, a sitcom created by Tyler Perry. She also thrived on the pageant scene. She was crowned Miss Black Connecticut and was the first Nigerian-American to be crowned Miss Black USA in 2010.
— Osas (Martha) Ighodaro
After she earned her MFA in Acting from the Actor’s Studio Drama School at Pace University in New York, Ighodaro came to a crossroads. In 2012, while debating staying in New York versus moving to California, she had a fateful conversation with her aunt, who lives in Nigeria.
Culled from Ivy Leaf, The Penn State Altoona Online Magazine.
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