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Denrele: where’re your high heels? obj asked me day I wore flat shoes

Not even being Denrele is likely to shield you from certain challenges, do you often encounter them in what you do?

I think every day is a challenge in the industry we are in, there is a total challenge. I have worked with a lot of brands, agencies and identities. There are brands that tend to withdraw, maybe because I’m of a flamboyant, vivacious and colourful disposition.

At the end of the day when I get a job and my deliverables are even more than what they expect, they start singing my praises. It is a challenge that very few of us face, mainly because of our identities and personalities. Also, because of the kind of person a lot of people perceive me to be, that Denrele thinks on his feet and he is spontaneous, they would say ‘don’t bother giving him, when he gets there he will sort himself out,’ when we are supposed to be getting background information on certain events. It is not a challenge per se, it’s just part of the production structure we have in this country.

Well, we are still in the industry and we know how to do the best way we can.

How did you come about this weird concept even when the society doesn’t believe in it?

When I started, I wasn’t this confident, bold, upfront and very brazen. I was slightly shy and a little withdrawn. I used to dance a lot in my church. Dancing set me apart from the other choristers and every church member noticed me.

So, when people travelled, they always brought Jeans for that dancing member of the Methodist Church Choir, it encouraged me. But let me start by telling you how I started building this brand and identity, it wasn’t the fact that I was into fashion or singing in the choir, no. I started going for casting with two clothes and three jeans and I was always going for every modelling casting.

Even in my undergraduate days, I used to wear the most wretched clothes ever and I got stigmatised, segregated, oppressed, humiliated, mocked and constantly rebuked for it and that shaped me into becoming a stronger person.

I used to have close friends who used to constantly run me down, the only exceptions were my siblings and my parents. Even some of my cousins would taunt me, telling me ‘you are a disgrace to this family, no one will notice you.’ But they are the ones that want to be identified with me now.

While your personality has set you apart from others, what particular area can we identify as your strength?

I am an all-rounder. I started out with acting in Kiddy’s Vision 101. I started to learn the rudiment of acting on the screen and I proceeded to dancing. I used to dance a lot for Ruggedman, Lady D – Charley Boy’s wife in those days, so I understood that industry as well. I got into modelling; I did a lot of runway and commercial modelling and moved into presentation and I got to work for Music Channels, which took me into the world of music, the business of music.

So I am all-rounder. I am an entertainment entrepreneur. Even in the course of my showbiz hustle, I got into writing, my writing is very quirky, I got out of that and I delved into designing because I’m always designing my clothes.

So, I don’t have anybody to make my clothes for me and I cannot afford it. And since I cannot be going to a hairdresser, I used to make my hair myself so I have experimented with myself overtime.

In all of these, do you have any young ones who are likely to emulate you?

I have gone to places where I see older people that will say, Denrele, o ni lo marry (won’t you go and marry?). Everybody knows the identity. I worked in secondary schools and the students are always excited, even my age category, adolescents, teenagers and older people, so I think it is transition overtime. I think a lot of people get creativity and inspiration from what I stand for which is self-expression and individuality.

The fact that you express yourself without holding back inspires; in fact a lot of people come to me to basically tap into the essence of what I stand for, because I have undiluted energy. An incident happened to me and I still hold it dear to my heart. We were supposed to handle an event for former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Ideally, I was to wear normal shoes, they got me flat shoes, but when I got in, the first thing the man said was: ‘Ah apola yen da (where is the big shoes)? Go and change into it.’

So I was surprised that Obasanjo even knows my identity. Even when I am on the red carpet, any governor that comes in, political or influential person, as they arrive, they would say “please, get Denrele for us. After I speak with Denrele, we don’t want to talk to anyone else.” So, I get that recognition, celebration and acknowledgement. I get that good feeling and so at the end of the day, our work is not in vain.

It seems even at that, your talent would be more appreciated outside Nigeria?

The brand is too much for Nigeria to handle; someone once told me that if I go to America, I would get lost in the crowd because that is what they do every day. So it was a huge shock when I went out of the country, the first time ever that I went to the United States, I had people stopping me on the streets, asking: ‘Oh my God are you a rock star, who are you?’ I had my Economy ticket converted to Business Class in a foreign flight because of what I represent.

So I am not restricted to Nigeria but I am extending it further. In South Africa, I can’t even walk in the mall. I am not looking for attention; this is who I am, very raw. If it is not very well appreciated here, I think people will still come around because when I started out the red carpet culture, people had a lot of reservations about me interviewing them. But when people find out that my style of interviewing and questioning are different they come to me because they want to laugh and have a good time.

They look at me and say Denrele’s energy is positive; this is why I have quite a portfolio on the people I’ve interviewed, some of them are people even the regular presenters will not get to meet and it is all about the overwhelming personality and the energy I bring to the table.

Could you give the highlight of your career?

An African-American lady with the Cable Network News (CNN) called me that we would like to do a special story on you like one-hour feature. When I was not responding, the woman flew from the States to Nigeria, she came and found me at the surprise dinner we had with Linda Keji.

This was September 2016. She said I don’t care how busy you are, you have to get this done. It took two months before this woman could nail me down in one place; eventually I did it. I don’t think anyone’s feature has been shown that ran for two whole months. People called me from Cambodia, Estonia, Lithuania, United Kingdom, Europe and the rest. That was a very huge recognition at that point in time.

How do you feel when you ask for a lady’s hand in marriage and you are rebuffed by her family members?

Oh, I’ve had that before. You will have some families you will enter into their house and the father will say ‘Who is this, where did he come from? What do you want here? We don’t want a mad man here.’

But because this is Nigeria and times are changing, a lot of parents who refused their children to do shows are now recognising the merit and power of what show business is doing in Africa as a whole. Parents are now flexible and many of them call me to say: ‘Denrele, please my child wants to be a presenter, she wants to model, act and dance, can you be her mentor or can you help guide him?’

So are you likely to look the way of marriage soon?

Ah, marriage will come; it is by God’s grace. It was supposed to happen for me and people thought I was just saying it for the sake of saying it that I was getting married. People should leave me alone.

What would you look for in your ideal woman?

Ideal? You know some people will say God fearing. Let’s say first and foremost, I want someone who can engage in good dialogue and have a conversation with me. I don’t want somebody who will be in the house, just empty-headed that I cannot strike a good conversation with.

I want someone who is witty, who is conversational, brave and that can challenge me. I want someone who can rise to any challenge that I bring forth, I want someone who can cook, who loves children, someone with a great sense of style.

We have to be sharing clothes, it is a must and someone who will be very comfortable with my family. And if you don’t like my family, you will go back with your entire luggage and I will refund your bride price.

Do you intend to veer into another career in the nearest future?

I started out as a teacher; I read English Education at University of Lagos. I taught when I got out of the secondary school, at Kiddies College for a year. I even did teaching practice, I went to Ijeshatedo Grammar School, Okota. So, teaching is something that I love to do. It is close to the kind of job I do; yes I might come across over as a funky teacher.

Source: New Telegraph






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