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.
Diamond Platmumz’s lover, Zari, chooses Valentine’s Day to call it quit
Famous Tanzanian singer, Diamond Platnumz, obviously had a black Valentine’s Day celebration as his first baby mama, Zari, chose the august occasion to kick him out of her life over allegation of gross infidelity. Sadly so, the news surfaced after his second baby mama, Hamisa Mobetto, dragged him to court for allegedly neglecting his child’s support.
Zari who is tired of the cheating scandals shared a photo of a Black Rose on her Instagram and wrote about the sad end of her long term relationship. The text reads: “Understand that this is very difficult for me to do. There have been multiple rumours some with evidence floating around in ALL SORTS of media in regards to Diamond’s constant cheating and sadly I have decided to end my relationship with Diamond, as my RESPECT, INTEGRITY, DIGNITY & WELL-BEING cannot be compromised. We are separating as partners but not as parents. This doesn’t reduce me as a self-made individual, and as a caring mother, and the boss lady you have all come to know.
I will continue to build as a mogul; I will inspire the world of women to become boss ladies too. I will teach my four sons to always respect women, and teach my daughter what selfrespect means. Unlike many, I’ve been in the entertainment industry for 12 years, and through all my challenges I came out a victor because I am a winner, and so are all of you Zari supporters.
As a child I was hoping to board a plane one day –Queen Blessing Itua
Atlanta, Georgia-based Queen Blessing Itua is a Nollywood actress and recipient of the President Obama Global Achievement Award. Also a lifestyle empowerment motivator, inspirational author and speaker, she told ADEDAYO ODULAJA that her aim is to touch lives when shooting movies as evident in her latest production, Mrs Adams.
Not much is known about you beyond your involvement in Nolllywood. What else do you do?
I’m based in the United States and I’m very passionate about so many different things. I’ve done quite a bit and I’m privileged to have been honoured by the former President of the United States, Barack Obama. I also received another one from the United Nations. It was just all coming to me even from countries like Zambia, Kenya and others. So having done all of that in the States, there was no way I couldn’t bring it back home, because home is where the heart it.
On this particular visit to Nigeria, what are you out to achieve?
I have an NGO in the US called Global Empowerment Movement while for Africans, I have ‘Blessings of Africa Empowerment Foundation’. The reason for that is that it takes all of us Nigerians to be the ones to actually spearhead the development we seek. That was why I paid the Edo State governor a visit.
This is the way I was thinking about these things. I had written the books, but I didn’t want to release them because I needed to make sure that I’m doing the actual work. I want to walk the talk. It is not just about speaking but talking about it. I don’t make noise about anything. Even on my social media platforms.
In all of these, what is your ultimate goal?
My goal is to spearhead the development goals in our own motherland, and in doing that, we have to be focused. I’m on this journey because of my true passion of being a blessing to Africa, of being a blessing to my community, of being a blessing to Edo State and of Nigeria. And ‘Blessings of Africa’ is not about individuals. It is about all of us together collectively, because you must first of all understand that you are here with a vision and with a plan. God created you for a purpose and has given you that talent, something inside of you that you have to be able to impact wherever your community.
What are some of those projects you are carrying out?
I wouldn’t want to go into details but we have created a project that we hope will solve the herdsmen crisis. Remember, it’s not just another photo op. Our team decided we will be presenting the solution for the herdsmen issue. We hope to liaise with the First Lady, so we can hopefully change what is going on. I’m looking at it from the public health point of view. Even the herdsmen are in danger.
The cattle are in danger, people that they come across are in danger, everybody is in danger. Sometimes they don’t even know what to do. They have no choice because those cattle have to feed and that’s their business. It is actually not wise to kill another man because of cattle. So you have to look at the whole picture before we can start a conversation.
This is not a blame game. I’m not blaming anyone but unfortunately lives have been lost and it’s not right. In order for us to have a solution, we have to think for everyone involved because we are not partial. I’m not partial. My heart bleeds for people that have lost their lives but how long are we going to continue like this?
Was your visit to the Edo State governor a political move?
When people hear that I visited the Edo State governor, the first thing they ask is ‘what is the contract? What are you working on?’ It is not about that. I’m here to make an impact. I’m not here to ask for something from him. I’m here because I have a vision for the people. A lot of our people are actually in need. We cannot close our eyes. We cannot turn deaf ears to all of these. The Edo State governor is doing a lot and I’m proud of what he’s doing. But of course, there is still room for improvement. Of course there are still ways we can support him.
How much of your current realities did you have as dreams growing up?
Everything I go through; I remember that young girl in the village, I remember the woman I left when I was in Bendel State. In 1984, as a very young child, I had won a state-wide essay competition, so I was to meet the then governor, Colonel J T Ogbeha. So I left my village, Iruekpen, to Benin to be honoured by the governor. I remember that we didn’t even have a TV to see myself.
The governor was there. He shook hands with me and presented me my award. I went back home where I was celebrated. The Abebes, the family of the Stella Obasanjo, gave me a scholarship and did all of that stuff with me. But I never saw myself on TV. So since then, I saw myself as that little girl in the village who hoped to enter a plane one day. When I was actually writing one of my books, it suddenly dawned on me that my son who is now the state essay writing champion in Georgia, and has been representing his state on TV, is the same age I was when I won the award. This was when I knew it was significant.
At what point did you leave the country?
I left Nigeria after I graduated from the University of Benin as a Biochemist. But in the US, I’m a public health practitioner with a specialty in fitness, nutrition, wellness, all of that stuff. I’m the one who helps women get healthy, especially after their babies. I help people because I believe my area of specialty academically is preventive wellness. In that capacity, I help people. Because when a woman knows her role at home, she is able to know what to do and how to feed her family and the community benefits. My passion is putting all of these together and using my books to make movies.
How many kids do you have?
I have four children. I’m blessed with two boys and two girls. I know the challenges we face but we must learn to empower our people, to look beyond our own personal issues, because we must see ourselves as blessings in whatever situation we find ourselves and you add God to that blessing, your attitude changes.
For someone who has acted in some foreign movies, why did you settle for Nollywood?
When I was called to host the Nollywood Europe Golden Awards (NEGA), I did mention that when I get there, I’m going to work with African stars. I didn’t know who was coming, but I told my colleague that when I get there, I will be working with Nigerian stars. I realised that I have this whole opportunity to work with them. I never portrayed myself as an actress because I was doing other things in politics. I needed to focus on one thing. The overall vision is not the acting but creating the platform to help people. And my background is not in the arts.
Are you now ready to get fully involved in acting?
There is a time for everything and when God has a plan for you, you might not know how it will unfold. But I also know that people want to see you focused. So, I had to learn to figure out what the focus was, especially with that high level position. So now, I have to be able to defend why I’m doing that, so that people on the high level that I’m working with will not see me as just acting.
This is real. I’m actually who that person is. However, the vision and the passion that drives my acting career is that as a public health practitioner, who has seen this big vision, I know that I have to be the voice. I’m using my movies and my books to address these critical public health issues.
Which roles have you taken on so far?
On the roles that I have taken so far, a majority of them have portrayed me as expert of what the movie is addressing. So that is how I could defend my passion for acting. For example, I was in the same movie with Will Pharrell. Will Smith was in the movie too. So was Kanye West. It’s titled Anchor Man 2. Though I was in other independent movies before that, that particular movie was Hollywood, so I had no control over it.
I didn’t audition for the role. I was picked b e – c aus e of my height, m y s h a p e and all that. Of course I was doing a lot of fitness. After that, I was in a reality TV show. I don’t know how far it went here because I was not here at the time. It is titled Nigerian Housewives of Atlanta.
So, I just felt like it wasn’t time for me to unfold my acting career until I’m in charge of what I’m doing. So, what happened is, I ended up doing a movie titled Skin. It is a Hollywood movie too, but I was the associate producer. The reason I did that movie was because my focus was now more meaningful.
What is the movie about?
The movie is about skin bleaching. It is about self image. You can now see how that movie tallies with my personal goals today. I did the movie because that story needed to be told of who I was. I have used skin lightening cream. I’m a biochemist and a public health practitioner who is using her movies to send messages. That was how the movie came about.
That was how I reshaped the movie as a co-executive producer. Van Vicker was our African star. So, after the movie, I realised there was still more to be done and I decided to bring it home? That was how the vision of going to Europe to work with our stars came about. I have worked in Hollywood, but my true calling is to support my people back home. I am the one who wants to address the social issues that we truly have right now.
Are you likely to go into politics anytime in the future?
I don’t know. To be honest with you, everything is open right now, because when God is leading you, you must be open. If anybody had told me that I would leave four young kids with my mother who is 84 in the US, to travel all over Africa, I wouldn’t agree with them. That is why I say when you get a vision, don’t think about yourself. Remove yourself from it and say God, let your will be done. He will give you the strength, the resources and the people you need.
What has life taught you?
I’m still learning. I have learnt that life is not a do-or-die affair. And it is not always smooth sailing. I’ve also learnt that challenges are meant to take us to the next level. We are supposed to use the challenges that we go through as a stepping stone to the next level. That is what life has taught me. When you go through challenges and you feel like the whole world is coming to an end, it is not.
PRAIZ: I’m yet to find a lady of my dream
RnB singer, Praise Adejo, popularly known as Praiz is one of the most charming songsters with impressive hit numbers in the industry. The Rich and Famous singer speaks to LANRE ODUKOYA about music, women and the industry.
Why are you yet to hold a concert like most of your colleagues?
I like to do things differently. I have yet to do any solo show because I am not ready to do what I really like to do. I have a massive plan, but the time has not come to unleash it. For my concert, I plan to invite an international RnB act. Pretty soon, everyone will witness it. I believe anything worth doing is worth doing well. Generally, I had a great outing last year. I dropped a couple of songs that did well internationally and locally. We are in 2018 right now and I am ready to drop a 5-track EP this month, precisely February 14. We have artistes who drop singles every month, but I am not that type of musician. I am strategic with the way I put out materials. I believe everyone has their own technique.
Are you satisfied with your growth in music?
I love my growth. I prefer to have 1, 000 fans who are loyal to me than a million fans who are not loyal. When you talk about people who broke into the industry from reality shows, I am one of them even though I didn’t win it. As matter of fact, people always think I won Project Fame. I believe you need to understand your fan base and person. But it does not mean you should be lazy or relax with the position you are. While you are still pushing to be a better person, one needs to be grateful to God. I owe everything I have achieved to God, but most people don’t know that I work a lot. I tell people that I have lost four years of sleep in my life. I am always working; I go to bed 4 am daily. But we also have a lot of people who work hard the way I do and they are yet to get results. For me, it has been God, patience, being focused and hard work. I know where I want to be and I am working towards it. I am a talented boy who is enjoying the favour of God. Once God sees your heart and how much you are passionate about what you do, He blesses you.
You’re effortlessly a stunner in look and in voice, so much that many wonder if you’re a lover boy…
It is okay if you call me a lover boy; I think you are right. Basically, I am an RnB singer. When you talk about that genre of music, the first thing that comes to your mind is love. I sing about different stages of love and my major fans are women. For every man who sings, women should be their prime target because they bring everyone on board.
Have you had to break a lady’s heart in recent times?
There is no one I can remember at the moment. But I try my best to avoid breaking any woman’s heart.
Do you honestly believe in love?
Yes, I do. Loving someone is a sacrifice because you need to go out of your comfort zone to ensure the person is happy. Love is a sacrifice.
Do you have a child?
From my knowledge, I do not. But it doesn’t mean artistes that have baby mamas are irresponsible.
Have you forgiven the Nigeria Police after your recent feud with some of their officers?
I honestly don’t want to talk about this again. But one thing I like people to know is that I was not rude to them as claimed. I have never been rude to anyone regardless of who I am or my position because I had a good upbringing. Even if you do me wrong, I will react to it respectfully. I don’t believe in violence or being rude to people.
What has fame deprived you of?
Obviously, there are certain things I enjoyed doing before that I cannot do again because of my new life. But I still look for a way to do things I did before fame came. I still take a walk on the streets or go to a public place alone. I think that makes fans appreciate you more. Fans don’t see us as ordinary people; so, when you do things they do, they relate to you better.
Was there a time you wished you were not a celebrity?
I cannot be fed up with the place I am right now because I still try my best to live my life. I don’t try to be another person because I am famous; I have not allowed fame to change me.
Do you have plans for marriage this year?
I am certain I will get married, but I don’t know how soon it will happen. You don’t need to rush into marriage because it is an institution you are not expected to abandon once you are in it. Though people get married to the wrong people, marriage is a beautiful thing. But when a marriage turns violent, I always advise people to walk away because staying alive is important. I am taking my time as I don’t want to rush in and rush out.
Have you found a lady of your dream?
I have yet to. But I believe in marriage and it is something I love to experience.
Can you marry an entertainer?
I cannot really give an answer at this point. There are things we don’t have a say or power over; they just happen and we accept it.
What is your greatest concern about the industry?
I just want every genre of music to be respected and given the same opportunity. In Nigeria, you don’t always see awards for other genres apart from the popular ones. The media also has a role to play. They need to encourage people who do other genres of music by giving them more airplay.
Do you see RnB music becoming as popular as hip-hop in Nigeria?
Everyone likes RnB music. You cannot be with your girlfriend and you will start playing rap music. But it is not a genre people like to play every time. We are in a nation where everyone wants to forget their struggle. People don’t want anything that will make them reflect on bad memories; they would rather settle for songs that make them happy. Though I understand that RnB music has a certain market, I still believe it will get to be accepted more in Nigeria over time. But I don’t think it can ever be as popular as pop music because of the environment we live in.
What other things do you?
It is very important for every artiste to have different sources of income. I don’t depend on music alone, I have invested in a couple of things. But music is the major thing I do because it brings in the money. For me, the most important thing is what you do with the money music brings in for you.
Do you think you are the best RnB singer in Nigeria at the moment?
I think it is left for fans and music critics to state who is their favourite RnB singer. But I am certain that if they are talking about RnB music in Nigeria, my name will be mentioned.
Do you have a song that is dear to your heart?
It is hard to say a particular song is my favourite because all my songs have their peculiarities
Have you ever thought of doing rap music?
No, it cannot happen. I can’t rap to save my life. I don’t even see myself trying to do rap music till I die.
When do you consider your turning point in music?
People accepted me right from the days of Project Fame. My music career has been a process or journey and I will never despise days of little beginning. But the first song that put me in the limelight was ‘Stupid Song’ with Bez. Also, people began to notice me after I did songs with M.I and Wizkid. Apart from my original songs, the collaborations I did in the past contributed to my growth in the industry.
How many albums have you released?
I have a double-album. I am dropping a project this month; I plan to drop two projects this year. Whatever I do, I don’t want to rush it. I like people to feel that I put in a lot of work in a production once they listen to it.
What makes you different from any other artiste?
I feel my vocals stand me out from any other artiste. Every artiste has their strong point. When you listen to a song, you can tell it is my voice without seeing the video.
Didn’t you feel it was the end of the road when you didn’t win Project Fame?
I didn’t see it in that manner. Getting the third position with money and a car was enough for me. We had people in the competition that could sing well but didn’t go home with anything. I felt if I could go that far, there was hope for me in the music industry.
What do you find disturbing about Project Fame?
I don’t think there is anything disturbing about the show presently. I only feel the participants should keep working hard and ensure they capitalise on the exposure they got from the reality show.
What came to mind when you were called upon to be a judge?
I felt accomplished. There was no time I thought I would be a judge on a reality show. I didn’t lobby for it or spoke to a top person to get me on board. It only shows that if you work hard and you are consistent, you will always stand out. It will be recalled that I didn’t even win when I participated in the show, but I was deemed fit to be a judge years later. I have been a contestant so I know what it feels like to be in that position. I am also in the industry now and I know what is required to be successful in music.
Do you agree that products of reality shows struggle in the real world?
Well, I can’t speak for anyone but myself. But when you come from a reality show, you need to work harder because things will not come to you on a platter of gold.
At a time you got Project Fame’s form; didn’t you feel you were bigger than a reality show?
For you to succeed, you must suppress your ego. Since a competition will be helpful to your career, why can’t you go? It doesn’t change the fact that you’ve been doing music for years. I have heard people saying they cannot go for reality shows, but that is what they believe in.
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