By Tomilola Coco Adeyemo
Talent Manager Isioma Osaje is probably the only one of her kind you have ever seen. Abandoning what would have been the ultimate career path in this society for Nollywood, the driven young woman has pursued her dream unapologetically since she started out.
And last year, when one of her clients Blossom Chukwujekwu invited her on stage while giving his award speech after winning his first AMVCA, Isioma Osaje somehow became “success goals” for a lot of people who dared to be something different in this society.
And since she is responsible for MTV Shuga’s Adesua Etomi, AMVCA winner Blossom Chukwujekwu, Tinsel’s Linda Ejiofor, Gidi Up’s Deyemi Okanlawon and once upon a time, highly talented Singer Niyola, it was only right to get her and find out her secret for achieving this much as a young female in the business.
Grab your tea, Isioma Osaje is about to spill major secrets on how to be her and things you did not know about her Talent agency.
As a young woman in the game, you have been able to successfully manage some of the hottest and the most talented names in the business right now. What’s the major ‘How To Be Isioma Osaje’ secret?
I have two secrets, the first is God and the second is Passion. I consider myself blessed to have this roster of clients – Blossom Chukwujekwu, Adesua Etomi, Linda Ihuoma Ejiofor, Deyemi Okanlawon and Theresa Edem are all fantastically talented actors. God has been so faithful and everything I have achieved has been because He has made it possible. I love my job and everything that comes with it, and even in those moments when I am almost losing my sanity, my passion for Film and Talent Management keeps me going. My talents inspire me with their drive and dedication, so I owe it to them to handle their business to the best of my abilities.
You studied medicine in School and then “abandoned” that for Nollywood, did anyone send you crazy stares at home? Were there questions to test your sanity? I mean, any of those things African parents do to ensure you’re not delusional for picking “a less professional course”
I forget ever so often that I actually have a medical license *laughs* My parents are very supportive. In the beginning it was difficult for them to comprehend that this was the path I had chosen. And I honestly cannot blame them because I left a sure thing – medicine, for a bird in the bush – Nollywood. Thankfully though I caught the bird and the rest is history. They are intrigued by my job and support me every way they can.
Adesua Etomi is nominated for this year’s AMVCA and Blossom Chukwujekwu won last year, how does that make you feel as their talent manager? Do you have Don Jazzy aka Proud Mama moments? Or do you just sip your iced tea and say, “I knew this was going to happen”
I’m very excited for Adesua, not just for her nomination in the Best Actress In A Drama category, but also looking at the actors she is up against. She worked her butt off in 2015 and this nomination was a culmination of all that. Blossom is nominated in two acting categories this year, Best Actor In A Drama and Best Supporting Actor – which he won last year. So I am a very Proud Mama. I never think these things will happen. I certainly hoped and prayed for it. I know how hard my guys work, so seeing them recognized for it makes me very grateful. Whichever way it goes, our focus at Agency 106 is to keep doing good work.
Your Agency, tell us about it in a nutshell?
Agency 106 Talents & Company limited is a boutique firm that provides Talent Management, Agency and Production Consultancy services to Film practitioners with a bias for Nollywood based talent. We currently have five clients; three under the management arm – Blossom Chukwujekwu, Adesua Etomi and most recently Theresa Edem. Our agency clients are Linda Ihuoma Ejiofor and Deyemi Okanlawon. We are a compact firm because we want to be a 100% effective to all our clients.
As a woman in the business, do you always have to work harder than the guys like other women do in most Industries?
The only person I ever try to outwork is me. I honestly do not know if I work harder than other women or men for that matter. All I do is make sure that my today is better than yesterday. I am in competition with no one as my journey is solely mine.
We’ve seen Talents fire their managers in the past, the most publicized one here in Nigeria in recent times being Davido and Asa Asika, is there anything you have put in place to ensure that never happens to you?
There really is nothing you can do to avoid getting fired, if a Talent no longer wants to work with you, they walk. And I’m not a fan of forcing people to stay in situations they are no longer comfortable with. I provide value to my talents and if at any point they feel they can get something better elsewhere, by all means feel free to walk and hopefully we can part on good terms, so no bridges are burnt.
Niyola was pretty much known before you became her manager, what was it like working for her?
Niyola is an amazing singer. It is very important for my psyche that I work with people whose talent I’m in awe of. For instance my best actors in Nollywood list will have all my guys, music wise Niyola falls into this category. She is still one of my favorite singers. Working with her was great and I’m glad I got a chance to. I’m thankfully I got to be a part of her journey.
Any other Talents in the business you’d like to work with? Both in and outside Nigeria that is.
In Nigeria there are maybe two other people I would really like to manage. I would rather not say their names for obvious reasons. But for right now, my plate is far from empty. And I’ve just signed on Theresa Edem, who I think is a massive revelation waiting to be unwrapped. So I’m quite happy to put my energy into my guys and let the lines fall in pleasant places.
Are we seeing Adesua and Blossom in major endorsements soon? And is there anything we need to prepare for regarding their career decisions?
If you build it they will come. Our focus is the work. First and foremost, Blossom and Adesua are actors, so we let the work precede us. Endorsement and brand affiliation conversations are currently ongoing, but it will eventually boil down to picking the right fit.
Because this is a Nollywood site, Mr Ibu or Nkem Owoh?
Funke Akindele or Helen Paul?
Olu Jacobs or Pete Edochie?
Genevieve Or Omotola?
Blossom or OC Ukeje?
Adesua Etomi or Linda Ejiofor?