Known primarily as an On-Air Personality (OAP) a few years ago, Lolo Omotunde, has become a hit due to her role in Funke Akindele’s Jenifa’s Diary. For the Wazobia FM top presenter, it is only the beginning of her evolution as she told Adedayo Odulaja in this interview.
How do you feel being 40?
I don’t really feel any different. It’s not really about the years you have amassed but the impact that you have made. Age is just something we count on earth. I just feel the way I have been feeling.
How are you celebrating it?
I am having a worship service. I love God. I am gathering some ministers for praise and thanksgiving to God. That is what I feel like doing because people have been eating rice on my head all the time.
What are you giving back?
When people talk about give back, I’m not part of those that feel you have to do that on your birthday. I have an NGO that has been around when I was a nobody and I have been giving back through that NGO. It is called ‘Caring Sisters’. I do that on a monthly basis.
Why did you start the NGO?
I just wanted to make lives better. I just wanted to affect lives positively as it happened during my NYSC days. I gathered a group of my friends. It is now registered now. I’m not even the president now though I’m the founder.
It has gone beyond me. For me, philanthropy is an everyday life; it’s not something I do on a special occasion. Right now, we are building a shelter at Shimawa after Redeemed camp.
So, what have you been up to?
I have been working. Everybody knows Jenifa’s Diary took the bulk of my time last year. It’s still taking a part of it this year. We are about shooting its ninth season. It’s been a huge blessing and people are beginning to see my face and other things that I do, my many sides.
I love music too. Maybe a single will be released this year too. I shot a video last year, it’s not out yet, I’m still experimenting. I did a mini-series, it’s called Aunty Bose. It’s a story about an Ijebu woman who came to Lagos. The mini-series is totally off what I have done before.
People think I am Igbo but I am Igbo inside and Yoruba outside. I grew up feeling we were all Nigerians-brothers and sisters. We had neighbours who were Muslim and we went to mosque with them. Sometimes, we went to Quranic school with them. But now things are different, we are beginning to see ourselves as different. Our humanity is the same as far as I’m concerned.
Would you have found yourself in your
chosen career while growing up?
I may not say radio presentation but I knew entertainment was my calling. My mum told me I was a child of the tube. I learnt English language watching Sesame right.
Growing up, I was an independent child because I was in boarding house from Primary 3 to my secondary school, that is CAC Primary School and Anglican Girls Grammar School, all in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State.
I am the last born of my mother; I have three siblings and three step sisters. My dad played so many KSA songs. I got my humour from my mum. My mum can tell you jokes that will make you laugh. I tell her, ‘Iya Ijebu you are really cracking me up oh.
How did you transit from broadcasting in English to pidgin?
We are all gifted in different ways but it depends on what comes to us. I took it as a challenge. There is nobody that is not an average pidgin speaker. I just said, let me just see what I can do.
And I started, the rest is history. I had hiccups in the beginning that people were saying, ‘that woman wetin she dey do there abeg?’ I kept at it. The beginning is always difficult but if you keep at it.
I got my first award in the first year. The station started a year before I joined them. Yaw had his own and I had mine. They asked me which name I would love to be called at that time. I threw it to the public. More than three thousand entries came at that time. I love Igbo and I love the culture. I know that Lolo means Olori in Yoruba.
Your first time on air in Wazobia, how did it go?
It was a nostalgic feeling. Ah my first day was really really fiery. Yaw was hard on me-he trained us. But you know when you meet somebody that wants you to do better. He pushed me to my limit. I actually thought that I was not going to make it but I scored very high.
The first day- he will put off the microphone and say, ‘What’s wrong with you. I can hear your heartbeat.’ I was wondering, how am I going to make it, I was so scared but he encouraged me, you can do it.
But day after day, week after week, month after month, I just got better and got better. And after a while, even the management felt I was bigger than news department. So, I started ‘Oga Madam’.
How were you able to connect to your fans?
Oh, I love my fans. The language alone is enough. I guess at the time we started people were tired of English speaking on radio. Some presenters will start British end American. At times, you listen to radio and you want to shout to the presenters, ‘Be yourself’.
No one was speaking Nigerian English. So when they saw Wazobia, they just ate it like bread. It was easy connecting to my listeners. Wazobia fans are more than ordinary fans. If you ever got to our event, our fans are like family.
There was a time that fans will do party for us. They don’t forget our birthdays. They come to our shows. Our fans are fans that we know them by name especially our regular callers and texters. So far, you are talking what the people wants to hear and the language they love, it’s easy to connect.
What is your memorable moment?
My memorable moment was when the awards started coming. Rotary gave me an award, this month. Media Mix gave me and Yaw recognition award. If your colleagues give you recognition and see you worthy of emulation, it’s a great thing.
What gives you fulfilment?
Fulfilment comes when you do the things that impact lives. I can remember a woman that sent me a message. I was so touched and moved to tears. She said I impacted in my programme, Personal Hustle done years ago.
She is a housewife and my programme pushed her so much, it was as if she was hearing my voice over and over again. She got a shop and now has four shops in Lagos. I was so overwhelmed. She started breeding a Turkey for me for my birthday.
She called it Happiness. She’s bringing it on my birthday. Those are the things that give me fulfilment. Another lady said she was rejected for an interview and turned on the radio and I was on air. She started laughing and forgot about the disappointment. Those are the things that remind me that I’m touching lives on radio.
If you could change one thing, what will that be?
I would go back to law school and change something. There were some decisions I took differently. If I could change one thing, I will go back to law school and recreate myself from that time.
Not many know much about your family life?
I have four amazing kids. Yes I’m single. I know many know that I’m going through a divorce process right now, it’s not all those noisy thing that I do. So, it’s a mixture of things. I don’t like to talk about the father of my children. We are good friends. We have our own individual differences. My youngest child is five years old. I got married at 27.
What are the three things people don’t know about you?
Sometimes I can be a melancholic person. I love looking at water (nature). If I really want deep thinking I just go to the beach. I love loving, I love ‘love stories’. If we can all be loving, many of our problem in this country won’t be there.
What do you think made Jenifa unique among others?
The grace of God, and also the producer, Funke is dogged. She is very hard working. She loves her craft. She knew what she wanted from the start. It wasn’t a surprise that the sitcom became so big. We put a lot of work into the casting and the technical. Nothing comes easy you know.