Commercial: Stark Agency
Photographing folks for various branding, headshots, self-promotional or comp cards is a sweet time because of the opportunity to help my clients in such a meaningful way. These sessions may not be heirloom family images to be enjoyed for generations to come, but being part of helping my clients in advancing their career lives is exciting and inspiring.
Shooting with Ekeobong was a dream! Her personal style and free spirit allow for so much flexibility and creativity which in turn yielded some images that she has used in booking jobs in Los Angeles as a model and actress. Knowing the true value these photographs add the blood, sweat and tears she pours into her career is humbling and a true honor.
As the years pass, the value of hearing someone else’s truth, their experience, their stories, gains more and more weight because I know the important of being known and knowing others, vulnerability in all of it’s levels, especially when tempered and met with love is sexy and enlightening to the sharer and the recipient. I hope you enjoy reading a few words from this dear, beautiful woman and getting to know the woman in front of my camera.
How do you integrate your island girl upbringing into your life in Los Angeles?
I love fried plantains, stewed curry chicken and rice, and anything with passion fruit or mangoes usually hits the spot for me! I find a fluffy blanket, cuddle up in front of my tv, and enjoy some island food. That’s my happy place. It’s my time to forget about the hustle, unwind, and be comforted.
What do you love most about being in front of the camera?
For me, being in front of the camera is more of an adventure. Anything can happen, especially when you are working with someone that’s truly devoted to the craft. You’re bringing a piece of yourself to every role you play, and so is your scene partner. So each take is always different and you don’t know what is going to come out the next time. It makes it very exciting and personal. It challenges you to dig deeper, stay in the moment, and always find your truth in every scene. I love this part of being in front the camera.
Can you share about a role you have played where by playing and studying for the character you actually learned about yourself in the process?
My first leading role was in the short film Memoir of an Honest Voice. It was the true story of a young woman who survived being kidnapped, tortured, and abused by the rebel army during the civil war in Sierra Leone. They cut off both of her arms and left her to die. Against all of the odds, she survived and is thriving today, with her son, as a United Nations Ambassador in Canada. This role taught me a lot about the power of resilience. Although my experiences in Los Angeles do not come nearly close to what this young girl had to experience in Sierra Leone, I realized that we did have one thing in common, we don’t give up. As many artists will tell you, pursuing a career as an actress requires a lot of resilience. I’ve been knocked down time after time. Sometimes not knowing how to get back up again. There have been many moments when I just felt like giving up. There have been many moments when I thought I had reached my limit and was just unable to keep going. But each time I thought I reached my capacity for disappointment, I realized I had just a little bit more hope left in me to keep fighting. It was as if my limit was being stretched each time I thought I couldn’t take anymore. This pursuit can be quite the emotional roller coaster, especially if you are as sensitive as I am, which is common amongst artists. When I played this character, scene after scene it seemed impossible that someone actually made it through such a traumatic experience. One bad thing after the other. And to think she is alive today and telling her story is very inspiring. So I realized from playing this role that I am stronger than I thought I was. Though it seems like weakness every time I get knocked down, it’s actually strength being displayed for all the times I get back up. With just a little faith in God and His promises, I realized that I can get through some tough experiences as long as I stay in the fight.
Shifting gears a little here. Have you ever dealt with insecurity as a woman? If so, how do you stay away from that and stay in your feminine confidence?
Yes yes yes. I have totally experienced insecurity. I’ve felt insecure about the very things that make me who I am. Am I too dark? Is my hair too course? Am I too muscular? Is my nose too broad? Am I feminine enough? I’ve practically changed my look in each of my headshots hoping that the new look was more of what they are going for. I went from my short natural afro, to long loose curls, then to just straight hair thinking that these looks would be more beneficial to me than my natural look. Recently, my manager emailed me saying that she wanted me to get new headshots again because the ones we were using were just not working, and that casting wants to see something that reflects who you genuinely are. At first I felt like she didn’t know what she was talking about. My headshots were perfectly fine. But then I thought to myself, she’s been doing this for much longer than I have so I should trust her advice. When I got the new headshots, she absolutely loved them. And so did I. Though I am normally very confident, I realized that I was hiding my true self behind the person I thought casting wanted to see. I thought who I was wasn’t enough. I can rock my natural afro to Trader Joe’s, but not to an audition. I had to give them want they wanted. And that is not true. All they want to see is you. And only you can bring that. One day there will be a perfect role and you fit the exact description and you’ll walk in that room and book a great project just for being yourself. It’s an industry where individualism and uniqueness counts. Somewhere along the journey, I lost sight of that. But I’m glad I found it again. Now I enter the room even more confidently than I did before, knowing exactly who I am. If I’m not chosen for the role, I am okay with that.
I realized a lot of my insecurities came because of what I saw people praise on social media. I followed fellow actors and models and it seemed like their looks were booking them a lot of work. It wasn’t something that I was conscious of at the time, but I started to think I needed to be more like them. Maybe if I tweaked this or tweaked that, I would be experiencing more success. So in order to stay away from those feelings of insecurity, I make it a point to not compare myself to anyone. I also limit my time on social media because it’s really unhealthy to be on it so often. You watch other people’s lives and start to feel like you’re not doing anything because everyone seems to be doing so much. Then you start to devalue your own experiences because it doesn’t seem as great as others. The key word there is seems. Many people aren’t portraying their true self on social media and then you start to compare yourself with their highlights, which is what most people usually post, myself included. So I just try to remember that when I’m browsing. It’s also good to surround myself with true friends who believe in me and always lift me up. Lastly, my relationship in God is my biggest weapon against insecurity because I know that there is someone greater than me with a greater plan for my life than I can ever imagine, who is paving the way and pouring out His love into every once of my being. God’s love is the only love that can make everyone who experiences it feel like the are His favorite.
Learning what you’ve learned, seeing what you’ve seen, growing in all the ways you’ve grown, what would you share (coach, counsel) with your 23 year old self?
I would tell my 23 year old self to just relax! She was so uptight and so worried about the future that she didn’t live in the moment. I would tell her to be gentle with herself. Don’t be so critical. Try to enjoy every moment in life. Be grateful for everything she has, even the little things. Talk to her family more. Spend time doing more things she loves. I would tell her that everything she is going through is for a reason and will be used to touch lives one day. I would tell her to spend more time
outdoors. Never compromise her values for anyone. Never pretend to be someone else for anyone’s approval. I would tell her that it’s okay to be alone sometimes and that doesn’t make her any less valuable. I would tell her to sing out loud and be more adventurous. I would tell her that her life is going to be a blessing to many and that if she just stays the course, she won’t be disappointed. I would tell her to stop being afraid. I would tell her that it’s okay to cry and emotions are just emotions.
They are only there for a moment and they don’t dictate her life. And most importantly, I would tell her to trust God with all her heart because He knows exactly what He is doing and everything is working out for her good. He is faithful and would not disappoint her in the end.
Contact the Studio today to begin with your custom photography consultation. We are so excited to work with you on your photography session, whether for business or personal!