From Lawyer to Award winning Actress & TV Presenter; we interview Olive Emodi

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Olive Emodi is an Award winning Television host, a Radio Personality, Writer, Actress, and Lawyer. She started out her career with a degree in Law and was thereafter called to the Nigerian Bar.

While at Delta State University, she started building her entertainment career by anchoring events, modeling, writing poems and performing them on stage. In 2011, she emerged the winner of Delta Talent Quest Acting Reality TV Show. Winning this opened up more opportunities for her as she hosted tons of red carpet events for the state.

In November 2016, she won the ELOY (Exquisite Lady of the year) Award for Television Presenter of the year. In December of the same year, she won the 19 Role Model Awards for TV Presenter of the year. In February 2017, she was given an Award of Excellence by the National Association of Psychology Students (NAPS UNILAG)

She made her debut into Nollywood in 2017 with a movie titled “Put a Ring on It”. She is a Corporate M.C, a Public Speaker, a brand influencer for several brands, an all-round Entertainer and a woman with a passion for helping young people be the best version of themselves.

Please note that all opinions expressed in this interview are the opinions of the individual interviewed. They do not necessarily represent the opinion of their employer or of Legally Engaged.

Please give a brief overview of what you do.

I was originally trained to be a Lawyer but then Entertainment found me. I like to call myself an Entertainer because of my passion and involvement in different arms of the Entertainment Industry. I am an award-winning television presenter, a radio personality, an actress, a writer, content creator, brand influencer and an all-round creative.

Why did you decide to become a lawyer or study law?

I just love to talk!

I decided to study Law because it was a childhood dream. I always wanted to be a lawyer as well as a broadcaster from childhood such that it posed a major challenge for me when I was about to enter University. I loved both professions so dearly and it was very difficult to pick one over the other. In my moment of confusion, my mother had a talk with me. She told me that I had the natural gifting of a broadcaster and with constant rehearsal, I could polish the art. However I could never be a Lawyer by constant rehearsals, I would need professional training for that. That being said, she told me I could have the best of both worlds; studying Law in University and then deciding to follow my passion as a broadcaster thereafter if I so desired. I followed her advice and I am glad I did.

Why did you decide to leave legal practice?

I honestly planned to give the practice of law a chance, but an opportunity came knocking and I answered. A media house put out a notice that it wanted lawyers that can act. Seeing how I had been on a reality television show back in my final year in University and eventually won (Delta Talent Quest 2011 Acting Edition), this was a no-brainer for me.

However, I was still torn between deciding to practice and diving into media. After much convincing by a friend who worked in the same company, I submitted my application letter and was invited for the first leg of the interview. After scaling through that phase, something came alive in me; I was more than convinced that I wanted this job. I even turned down a ‘juicy’ employment offer that would have afforded me an opportunity to practice law; an offer that came with a lovely car and other benefits. Turning this offer down when I was not even sure the media house would employ me was a risk I, thankfully it paid off.

Would you advise someone with similar ambitions to practice law for a while or not at all before exiting?

Who says you can’t have both? Law is needed in almost every work of life; Record labels need Lawyers, banks, oil companies, fashion outfits, automobile companies…they all need lawyers. So you can practice law in your area of interest.

You can also practice law whilst you pursue other areas of interest. The profession can be a jealous one but there have been lawyers who have found a way around it. Donna Ogunnaike is an award-winning Lawyer who has worked her way to partner, she is also an award-winning Poet who has established a name for herself nationally and internationally. She is not the only one; there are other lawyers like her. As long as your other interest(s) is within the dictates of the profession, you can have the best of both worlds.

However if the time comes when you have to choose one; choose the one that you can’t do without, the one that you can do for free, because that is your passion. I realized I could not draft a document or render legal services for free but I would gladly host events for free (you’ll have to pay me now though because I’ve paid my dues.). I followed my passion and I am so grateful for the path I chose.

The question really is “How bad do you want it?”

How would you describe your workload?

I am on Television Five days a Week; I co-host a live show every weekday from 12noon to 1 pm. However, my call time is 10 am seeing as I have to do hair and makeup and also get styled for the show.

Now that I have started to build my career as an actor, I’m headed to the location where filming is taking place. On weekends when I’m not filming, I’m either hosting an event or attending another. Attending events isn’t just for leisure as some people think, I consider it a key part of my work, it’s necessary for networking, just as it is for lawyers.

In your opinion, what is the most challenging aspect of working in entertainment?

For me, the most challenging part of being in the Entertainment industry is the pressure we allow people mount on us. The industry is a vain one and sometimes people place flash above substance. For unnecessary media attention and the need for social media validation, people do the unimaginable and are applauded for it. Brands partner with these people because they have a huge following even in clear cases where there is absolutely no moral or ethical content.

Furthermore, pricing and attaching value to your work is a major challenge for upcoming talents in the Industry. In a bid to attain relevance and make a mark in the Industry, you are expected to undertake several tasks without remuneration. Even after attaining several years of “paying dues”, you still might not receive remuneration that is commensurate with the hard work and huge responsibilities that may be committed to you. So for those coming into the Industry with the sole object of seeking fame and fortune, you might need to reevaluate your priorities. Your ideal driving force should be to seek satisfaction from what you do, therefore you should be prepared for delayed gratification as the dividends will come after you “pay your dues” and there is no telling how long that will take.

In your opinion, what is the most rewarding aspect of working in entertainment?

I am doing what I love. Being an adult is complicated enough; it would be traumatic to have a job that does not put the spark in my eyes and fuel the fire in my heart. The icing on the cake being when people walk up to me or send me e-mails to say how much I inspire them, how they love me and my work…those are truly humbling moments for me and I in no way take them for granted.

On a lighter note, it feels good to get free invites to events that people are paying for. I mean, who doesn’t like Freebies?

What is the most memorable thing that happened while working in entertainment?

So far, I have had many memorable events in the course of working as a broadcaster; from my first award for Television Presenter of the year (ELOY Awards 2016) down to my other awards. I remember a scenario after winning my first award, I posted a Picture on Facebook and got a lot of congratulatory comments, but one caught my attention. This comment was from an older broadcaster who had earlier on in my career said that I was not good enough for Television. It suddenly felt like the rejected stone had become the chief cornerstone.

I also remember the day I had the opportunity to interview Don Moen whom I grew up listening to. I tried to keep still but I was so star-struck. Meeting Richard Quest was definitely another moment I treasure deeply.

What advice would you give to aspiring lawyers looking to work in your field?

To lawyers looking to work in my field, stay ready for when the opportunity might come knocking. Better still, create the opportunity. In this social media era, new media is fast becoming the real deal. If you don’t have a platform, you can create one on YouTube. Get free training and tutorial online; read books, go for paid courses if you can, just stay ready. Some people say data and content is the new oil, they may not be wrong.

Would you say that skills gained at Law School or legal practice have been useful in your field?

My training as a Lawyer impacts my everyday Life; it helps me intelligently analyze issues that are being discussed on my show. Over the years, I find myself applying the same level of commitment and industry I garnered from Law School to whatever project I find myself doing. Before embarking on any project, I do a lot of research, I find myself going the extra mile because I do not want to be caught off guard and I also do not want to give anything less than my best.

Studying daily in Law School taught me dedication and consistency, undertaking group projects and internships taught me how to be a team player, not to mention the numerous day-to-day skills I learned that are helping me today. So yes, my training in Law School has been of immense benefit to me and my career.

Do you see any room for lawyers to enter the entertainment industry to provide legal services?

There is definitely enough room for Lawyers in the Entertainment Industry to offer Legal Services. In the area of Intellectual Property, a lot more work needs to be done. Entertainment Law is an area that has not been adequately explored. People have their ideas stolen every day and justice needs to be served. Beyond that, contracts will be signed, new companies will emerge and copyright will be infringed upon. Not to forget the numerous people who will have their reputation being tarnished as well, we haven’t had sufficient suits to refrain defamation of character. The opportunities are endless!

In hindsight, is there anything you would have done differently?

I would have done more work to build my career as a media persona way earlier. In this industry, as it is in most, the younger you are the better. I’ll probably have started blogging and vlogging as well. YouTube has been there for a long time and I wish I had started sooner.

 

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