TV Talkshow Host, Marilyn Oma Anona, is a young woman with many parts. She has successfully initiated various projects and led many campaigns aimed at reshaping societal values and mentoring the young ones. In this interview with Jonathan Eze, the award winning entrepreneur spoke on her new campaign against suicide, anxiety and depression tagged: S.A.D. and other sundry issuesâ€¦
Â Marilyn Oma Anona is a young Nigerian woman with so many talents, cerebral power and passion. She is a woman so eager to contribute her quota in making the world more beautiful than she met it. She is one who is always eager to make a positive impact as can be seen from the things she does. Marilyn Oma Anona is a TV talk show host, social and multimedia entrepreneur. She is from Abagana in Anambra State Nigeria and the first out of 7 children. Marilyn is single and resident in Abuja, Nigeria.
How did your TV, social and multimedia career begin?
Â Everyone expected me to become a Medical Doctor. And again, many times when I talk, I am told I would have made a great lawyer. I was a very special kid growing up. I was so intelligent and versatile…. so I knew there were many things i could effortlessly do! I am multitalented. Ordinarily, I would have chosen the arts. But you know our clime, our parents and school system. Once you are academically brilliant, you are pushed to the Science class and that was how I found myself in the sciences which I have always known I was not interested in. So I did sciences even in the university but was never happy nor satisfied. I wanted out. After my NYSC, I decided to my father’s disappointment to follow my natural passion and calling which are the things I am currently doing. But even as a teenager, I nursed the silent dreams and desires of owning a great magazine and writing books because I am a gifted writer and I also wanted to own a photo studio because of my love for photos. So when I turned 18, I made my dad do me a dummy magazine with me on the front cover (laughs out loud). That magazine was named AUGUST MARILYN (AM as abbreviation with some underlying meaning) and yes that magazine is coming back pretty soon.
After NYSC, I could not be trapped so I delved into TV working for many media houses like MEDIA OPTION, HOUSING CIRCUIT, MYTV AFRICA etc. So being multitalented, I was able to do many media related jobs, from voice overs to commercials, hosting, acting and all. On the social aspect, it has always been my thing to lead causes. I am a fighter and naturally charitable. That is like a second nature to me. So effortlessly, I train, counsel, coach and impact into people in order for them to be better versions of themselves and that means the society ultimately getting better.
Â You also have a charity foundation, tell us about it?
Yes I do have a charity foundation. Like I earlier mentioned, charity is my second nature. I live for love which has made a lot of people to call me either mother Theresa or mother hen because I love to be a shield and fighter for the vulnerable and needy. And I do these even when I am saddled with enormous personal challenges. So my foundation is called THE RIGHT STAGE. It officially started in 2015 and has been in operation ever since. We have been able to do a lot and without sponsorship from any organisation or corporate body except for few support from family and friends. This foundation is centred on the kids, teenagers, youths, vulnerable women and the needy generally. My talk show THE OMALIVING SHOW is about inspiration and I did not want to be the regular TV host who just talks and lives for glamour. I wanted to be felt, I wanted to realy impact into lives. So I thought of those who fit into my target audience but don’t have access to the social media, TV etc, then THE RIGHT STAGE was born. We have gone to four states, more than thirty schools, five communities, done lots of empowerment events and programs and so far, I am happy at how far we have come.
You are currently leading a campaign on suicide and depression. What inspired that?
I already mentioned that I am a social entrepreneur and a I love to lead and fight for causes. Since 2015, I have done campaigns every year. 2015 was societal vices, 2016Â was rape and domestic violence, 2017 was sexual assault and jungle justice and 2018 is suicide, anxiety and depression tagged S.A.D. These campaigns are selected based on nagging issues per time. But this is the only campaign that personally concerns me because I have been down the dark road of depression, anxiety and attempted suicide. And I decided to run this campaign because of the number of people who come to me with these issues not knowing that I am a patient too. Again, in this clime many people are ignorant about mental health. Through this campaign I and my team want to sensitise people, create awareness in a bid to curb these issues. They are daily occurrences in Nigeria. The only thing is that we don’t have a good Database Management System. But lots of Nigerians are depressed, suicidal and anxious. These are illnesses and clinical. Professionals are in short supply but through love, support and psychotherapy patients can get better. The campaign has been on since April and we have been doing great. However, we are calling for partnership and sponsorship from organisations and people to make this really massive and impactful.
What do you enjoy most about your career?
The ability to touch lives in large numbers. The ability to help people discover themselves. The ability to solve or at least tackle nagging issues. My successes are the thousands of people that mention me as a link to getting their lives together, it gladdens my heart.
I am still working so it is progressive. But so far, I have 9 awards to my name which are natural recognition for the things I have been doing. I am grateful. I am constantly working to become a big force though.
What are you major challenges?
You don’t want to hear them I am sure. The challenges are enormous which were part of the reasons I went into depression and anxiety and became suicidal but thank God I did not kill myself. I ventured into entrepreneurship very young and trust me, it is not funny. Most of the challenges I encountered were man made from people who dwindled me and put me in a mess. Bad workforce etc. But I am happy I am gradually assembling people who love me and what I do and eager to see me succeed. Millions have gone down the drain but I learn daily and these experiences I am sure I would not have gotten from Harvard business school. And then we have sexual harassment. Trust me, being a female entrepreneur in this field is not easy. Especially if you are decent and principled. But I will not throw away my values. Slowly but surely.
What is your advise to young entrepreneurs like yourself?
Oh well, I could spend the entire day talking and advising but I just want to say, keep it real, embrace the process, don’t give up, celebrate your small wins, don’t be fooled by social media noise, you are not doing badly. Have positive values and always remember that a good name is better than silver or gold.