Beautiful, classy and determined are just some few words to describe Nollywood Star, Stephanie Linus. With over 90 movies to her credit, she has climbed up her career ladder earning a good reputation and several awards to her credit.
Stephanie was born in Benin City, Nigeria and is the sixth child of eight children. She studied at the University of Calabar, where she graduated with a degree in English and Literary Studies. In 2002, she participated in the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria beauty pageant and was a runner up in the competition.
The graduate of the New York Film Academy is also a movie director and producer and is set to break new grounds in the movie industry.
Her wedding was arguably the celebrity wedding of 2012. Set in a picturesque castle in France, Stephanie and her husband, Linus Idahosa exchanged their wedding vows on April 21st 2012. Still basking in the euphoria of her wedding anniversary, Stephanie was bubbly and when we had a chat at her home in Lagos. She had a special glow in her eyes whenever she talked about her husband, like a teenager in love.
You seem to have been maintaining a low profile lately. We haven’t seen you feature in as many movies as we used to. What have you been up to?
I’ve been busy preparing the ground work for my upcoming film, DRY. I’ve finished the first phase of the project and I’m working towards the next phase. It’s a lot of work and it takes a lot of my time and energy.
I understand you are producing, directing and acting in this movie. Isn’t that too much of a task?
It wasn’t intentional. This particular project is something that is so dear to my heart. I’ve been working on it since I was in the University when I heard about Vaginal Fistula and early marriage and what women go through. I’ve done a lot of advocacy programs concerning this particular issue. It’s not like I planned it, I wrote the story and raised the funds for it so that means I became the producer. Then I acted and directed also. It just happened.
So, are you saying DRY is what has taken your time away from featuring in other movies because it does seem like you have slowed down?
At this point in time, I just want to do a project. I don’t need to be in a hundred movies, I just need to do one or two movies in a year and I’m done. If I see good quality movies to be in, I would be, but now I’m just looking for something that would give me the extra push. I don’t want to be a mediocre actress or be in a feel good kind of movie. I need something to push me, and take me to where I need to be. I have about four scripts I’m considering at the moment but DRY is a project that is dear to my heart so I’m concentrating on this and when I’m done with it, I’d be off doing other projects. DRY is going to be released this year.
Stepping Out Of Her Shell
You launched your blog StephanieDaily last year and in one year, it has garnered so much attention. You’ve also been quite consistent with it. How do you keep up? Are you the one actually putting up these blog posts?
Yes I am, and I have some people working with me. It’s just a platform for me to keep intimate with my fans, and tell them what I’m up to. I’ve been really busy with my project this year and that has taken away some of my attention from the blog but hopefully in the next couple of months, I’m going to give out all the things I promised my fans. They have been very supportive and I just need to do more for them and give them something to talk about.
I won’t classify you as someone who intentionally puts herself out there especially on social media but it seems you are coming out of your shell now…
Time is changing. With social media, people now expect more from me. I used to think that being an actress is enough of me out there. But a lot of young people need guidance, they want to ask questions, they want to know how you did this and that and it’s good to give them some access to you, to feel like they know you. That is the whole essence of being out there and reaching out to people. I get a lot of emails from people asking for advice and sometimes when I say things to people, it goes a long way to affect them and hearing it kind of likes lights up their day. So I’m adjusting a little bit.
Still talking about social media, some of your photos have surfaced online recently. In one picture, you are standing beside a car and in the other one, you are playing with two dogs. This seems like a first from you and has already become news.
I was just standing outside, waiting for my husband to come and pick me up to somewhere and I was leaning on his car and checking my phone while someone was taking my pictures. I later shared it on Instagram and the next thing I read was someone saying I’m flaunting my cars. When I read it I was like “are you for real?” It doesn’t make sense.
How about the dogs, are they yours?
Yes, they are mine. They are somewhere in the back making noise. I love my little puppies – Joey and Isy. I think the fans are more demanding, they want to know what my regular day is like and then you just want to share a little piece of you out there. It’s all about sharing these days isn’t it?
I understand you were a runner up at the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria Beauty Pageant in 2002. Did your journey start from there?
No, it started way before that. Right after I finished my final exams in Secondary School, I knew I wanted to be an actress. I was used to singing on stage, performing, taking part in school debates and dramas. Shortly after, I got a role in a movie called ‘Compromise’ where I just said one line. When I came back to school to pick up my results, my teachers told me they had seen me in the movie and that they weren’t surprised I had followed that path. I had featured in 3 movies before I did the beauty pageant which was a good platform for my career.
Can you tell me about your experience at the Women In The World Summit in 2010 where you shared a stage with Meryl Streep and Hillary Clinton?
I was among the 300 women that were selected from across the world. We did a stage reading where a couple of actresses from different countries came to talk about the plight of women and activities that women in different countries are doing. It was a very lovely moment for me.
A year later, the Federal Government of Nigeria honoured you with the Member of the Fedral Republic (MFR) Award. How did the news come to you?
I wasn’t expecting it. I was in Los Angeles when I heard about it. I actually read it in the papers. It was a good thing to be recognized by my country and also that the Nigerian government is realizing the role that the entertainment industry plays. It is also encouraging for young people.
We were shocked to hear about your accident some years ago. How have you pulled through that period in your life?
Accident is never a good thing but I’m totally grateful to God that I’m alive. It happened in 2005 and I was able to walk properly in 2007. I had three major operations before I could walk and it was a long time before I was allowed to wear high heels. Even now, I can’t wear heels for so long. But I’m very grateful to God for seeing me through and for bringing my loved ones around me when it happened. People supported me. Nollywood was also wonderful to me. Even when I was using crutches, people were writing scripts and adjusting it to suit my condition at the time.
What was the most important lesson you learnt from that experience?
When I was admitted to the hospital, I remember asking the Doctor “are you going to cut off my leg?” At that time I had already started processing that possibility in my mind and wanted to know the best thing I could make out of the situation. But he said no and I was grateful. Now I know that when you’re sick, the healing comes first from your mind and from you being positive about it.
Her Marriage, Wedding, Husband & Aspirations
I know it’s been a couple of weeks but congratulations on your one year wedding anniversary. How did you celebrate it?
I read somewhere that they said we went to France.
I did too. Is that not true?
Not at all! But it was fun. How time flies! It seems like my wedding was just yesterday but our anniversary was a special moment.
Looking back at the past one year, what has been the difference between your wedding and the actual marriage?
My husband and I are pals. Is the wedding supposed to be different from the marriage? I don’t know.
People say that the marriage is where the real test begins, where the real school is. Is that true?
Marriage is a school for you to learn, definitely. But when you know what your marriage is founded on, it is peaceful and you are content. I don’t see any difference because the wedding was about us. We weren’t trying to impress anyone with our wedding. It was how we saw ourselves and that is what we brought to fruition. There is still glamour in my marriage. We are just a young couple trying to have fun, live life and be happy. We set our own rules and we live by them and we try to make each other happy and be committed to ourselves and our marriage.
I’ve been itching to ask you this question for a long time. Why did you choose to have your wedding in Paris?
We just wanted something different. If it was in Nigeria, it would have been a real carnival but we wanted something serene. The love is a little bit sweeter in Paris, you know it can be hard in Nigeria (laughs). He feels he is a King and I’m a Queen, that is what we call ourselves, and we wanted to have this whole royal thingy going and we knew that we wouldn’t get that serenity in Lagos. We also wanted our families to bond, we wanted our parents to experience something new, to travel and relax. It was special to us and we wanted everyone around us to have special memories. We wanted something spiritual and divine. Not like we couldn’t get it here, but we wanted something to look back at with joy. We wanted to do us.
At what point did you know that Paris was the place?
I went to Cannes Film Festival with my sisters. When they left, my husband came to join me and the love was so sweet, it was so nice and beautiful and we knew Paris was the place.
Despite the fact that it was a destination wedding, you had a good number of family and friends from Nigeria join you.
It was just God showing himself. We told God that we wanted to get married in Paris and He should give us a sign if we should do Paris. And He gave us a sign. Arik Air donated one full return flight to us at no cost. Also, Air France gave us good discounts on tickets and the Embassy was really helpful with visas. It’s the grace of God that gets us things like that.
It’s never too late to ask this. What attracted you to your husband?
He is very tender and protective, a man’s man. As a woman, when a man loves you, you just know. You know that you’re in it together, regardless of any situation. With him, there was a conviction in my heart that this is it. He is a very charismatic, confident man and he knows who he is. He is sweet, humble, very loving and he takes good care of me.
I remember seeing pictures from your surprise birthday party a few months ago and you looked utterly surprised when you stepped in. How did he pull this off?
He doesn’t like surprises but he knows I like surprises. That day, when I woke up, I remember telling him “don’t try anything oh, I hope you’re not planning anything”. We planned to go out later in the evening so I went out to get my spa treatment and get my hair done. Apparently, my friend who was with me was already in on it. He had told her to delay me till a particular time. She had also told the people doing my nails, hair and facials to take their time and do it slowly. They all ganged up on me. Meanwhile, I was busy calling him, apologizing that I was late for our date. As I approached the house on my way back home, I saw a lot of cars parked around our house and then I just knew that he had done it again.
That sounds really sweet. Sometime in December, rumours swirled that you were pregnant. How did you take this?
It’s a good thing. That means they are praying for me to pop out the little ones. Yeah, the little ones are coming soon, but you know, everything is in God’s hands and I’ll have a baby when I’m supposed to have a baby. I am definitely not under any kind of pressure. We wish for it to happen and of course it’s going to happen.
You announced some time ago that you were going to launch your Perfume line. How far have you gone with that project?
It is in the works. They sent me samples and I’m almost done with production, just a little tweak here and there and we’ll start rolling.
What inspired you to come up with a perfume line?
I love perfumes, I love to smell good. The perfume line is just part of a whole lot of other things I intend to do but we’re taking it one step at a time.
Some women say that when they get married their style changes. Has this happened to you?
Maybe that happens when you’ve added a little weight here and there. But generally, as you mature, there are certain things you tend to change. I won’t say I’ve changed, maybe a little bit.
What should a lady do to achieve a good look everytime she steps out?
I think you need to take care of your body, your health, and your skin by doing your spa and facial treatment. Sometimes, too much hair extension leaves clogs on your skin. You should also take time to relax and try to look the best you can really. Also be yourself, let the inner beauty in you come out.
You’ve made several red carpet appearances and almost everytime you do so, you grab the headlines. Which red carpet look however, are you most proud of?
I love the fact that I rocked my natural hair at the AMVCA. I had been wanting to rock my natural hair for so long and when I finally got to do it, I felt really good about myself. I’d definitely do more of it. Your natural look shows who you really are.
Which words would you like to leave your fans with as we say goodbye for now?
I just want to appreciate them all for being with me through the years, especially the ones that love me. I am going to a new chapter in my life, this is a new phase and I’m trying to adjust and also reinvent. I love reinventing myself. They should expect more, something that would make them really proud and make myself proud also.
It was great chatting with Stephanie and from BellaNaija, we wish her the very best!
Stephanie & Linus Wedding
Stephanie in “Through The Glass”