This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Showbizflair

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Who Gets 'Nigeria's Got Talent' show's N10M?

The coveted show, 'Nigeria's Got Talent' birthed on Sunday, September 16 with no less exciting episode. The audition from Port Harcourt to Ibadan left many with mixed feelings, that of excitement and apprehension.

There's absolutely nothing off beam with borrowing concepts from the United States, Britain, Australia or any other developed world for that matter, but altering the template altogether is what won't go down well with discerning minds.

Since Airtel Nigeria brought the first episode which has Dan Foster, Kate Henshaw and Yibo Koko as the judges, questions have evolved as to how the 3-man jury discerns the dexterity of the talents brought on stage. For instance; it would probably require a professional musician to read what a flutist or violinist is doing with the instrument which may mean nothing fascinating at all to an actress.

And like they say in theatre arts, 'the show must continue'. With two episodes gone by, the show is yet to prove how it hopes to single out the most talented Nigerian. In a chat with Dan Foster who reeled out what the show targets, the on air maverick said; "It's not only an American thing, it's a British and South African thing. Now it's a world thing coming to Nigeria the most populated country in Africa. And we cannot tell anyone that there's no talent in the most populated country in Africa.

Yea, we may not have brought home, gold, silver or bronze medal from the Olympics, but we need to begin somewhere". Seconded by Kate Henshaw who reiterated; "It's a franchise and I'm really glad it birthed here in Nigeria now because we have multitudes of talents and it's also a platform for people regardless of age to express themselves. Every young person out there cannot be doctors, lawyers or engineers. Some of them have gone to school to study arts and the platform is here.

You don't know how to sing or dance but you can do something else. And what is it you have to win N10m? That is the search."

And about the readiness to prune down the large number of contestants especially since theshow put no limit on age and talent type, Henshaw explained; "three judges prune the number to get those who make it to the semi final, then the public will also vote to decide their winner. It's important to know that after a while the judges no longer have a say but the public."

Akin Lewis: I Gained a Lot From Wole Soyinka

Ace actor, Akin Lewis, has traversed the world. He has acted both on stage and behind the cameras for nearly four decades, yet he's one of the finest around today. The showman shares the story of his life with LANRE ODUKOYA

My Magic wand...

It's been a lot of hard work, this was the same thing I was telling someone last night. Of course, we cannot deny the place of grace because one is not the only one in the field but it's also worthy of mention that I'm a highly trained professional. And I seek to bring out the professionalism in all I undertake. My personal motto is: "I am the best". So, whatever I do, if anybody allows me a level playing ground, I will beat others to it. That has been so since I was a lad.

CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS AND ACTING...

It only goes to say that you've followed me from way back then. But really, it was a lot of sacrifice. I'm an old-school fellow which means that in those days, professionals like me in the movie making weren't much. As a single person, it was okay but when one got married with children, you have to expand your scope which was what I did. So, I have two parallel career lines, through my focus, hard work and the grace of God. I could considerably make the most of these two careers.

What I did exactly was to be able to keep both jobs. The sacrifice came through maybe sometimes not sleeping even after the office hours, I would have to go and record throughout the night and stuffs like that. I would spend my weekends on locations, my leave periods were also spent there. What I made sure I wasn't doing was to use anybody's time to do anything else. And it was incredible that one way or the other, I pulled through. I knew that I was coming back because this was where I started. It was a 360 degrees thing for me. I went out there because it was necessary for me to gather that fortune but I knew I was coming back because this is my natural habitat.

MY TUTELAGE IN ARTS...

Yes I studied arts; I mean I have a master's degree in Theatre Arts and I specialized in acting and directing. When you choose two career paths, it becomes more than an option that you go all out to garner quality experience. So, I later on started doing courses in management, communications, marketing and all of that. I have other qualifications there and of course, there were workshops, seminars and the invaluable experiences I garnered from the field of play came to work for me.

I was able to utilize them. So, I worked in places where you're very unlikely to find an actor, so to speak, in telecommunication, banking, advertising and public relations. And it all worked out well before I retired.

DAYS GONE BY ...

I was a top class executive. I mean I was an executive director. In fact, I retired as a Chief Operating Officer from the corporate world. The last place I worked was in CMC Connect. You would discover that at that level, you have to be very strategic, you have to plan for other people to achieve results and I was able to do that. It was a lot of hard work and ingenious moves because you cannot just wake up and present any half-baked material to clients. Some clients are so skilled that they need people that can dazzle them to come and present to them. So, we could use as long as a fortnight to prepare for a single brief.

And you would always also remember that you're dealing with other professionals from bigger places or as big a place as yours. Then, you just have to be the best. If you have to handle products like Coca-Cola, Sprite, Fanta, I did PR for them in those days, you would know that it's no child's play. I also handled Maggi seasoning then. I did banking, I was the MD of a major auto dealing company. I did a lot of things and it's today exhilarating to know.

HOW I FIND ACTING TODAY...

At this level of my life and even in the industry that I am now, I don't know anything about relaxing because it is as tensing as the world I'm coming from. It's just that patterns of stress are different now. I really don't miss the corporate world because even in my mind, I retired already because when it comes to entertainment, you're also dealing with people and that was what I was dealing with in the corporate world. I had to plan, arrange, organize, train and teach. And that's what I do here too because the most decentralized job in the world is theatre. You have actors, directors, drivers, prop managers, make-up artists and so on and all these people you have to manage. My experience in the corporate world comes to play here, though it is very stressful, I must confess because it's not very easy to round up people to do what you want. I don't think I'm missing the corporate world.

STILL REMINISCING ...

The reason you think I've only been an actor and not a producer is because people who know me these days know me as an actor. I used to work with the Nigerian Television Authority for like 13 years. I was a producer, a writer, an actor and a director.

Those were the days when you are trained as a total person to entertain. And we used to do all of that in those days. Those were the days of Baba Sala, Duro Ladipo, Ajimajasan and all those professional troupes. We just came out from the university and our boss then, Yemi Farounbi who was the General Manager saw a couple of young men from the university trained by Wole Soyinka and the rest of them. So, he brought us in and we were producing and directing all these professional troupes who in themselves were versatile.

And so, NTA Ibadan used to be the first in everything in those days until everybody dispersed. That was what I used to do until I went to the corporate world. Going into the corporate world, I didn't have enough time to produce and direct anymore. The only thing I had time for was to act. What happened then was that I would let you know the schedule, you'll plan the days ahead, come in and do your bit overnight or in the weekend and you're out again. Whereas as a director, you have to stay with it and I didn't have that kind of time. This is why viewers of today, I think since I did Madam Dearest, they know me as an actor. But long before that, I've been a producer and a director.

MADAM DEAREST NOT MY BEST FILM EVER...

That was not my best; it was just a loud testimonial. Actually, when I did Madam Dearest, people didn't even know that I could do a film in Yoruba because I was more known to be doing English. But we must all realize that the language is just a tool, acting is universal. I can act in Hausa because I speak the language. I can act speaking French, same goes for Bulgarian. So, acting comes from within. That wasn't my best; it was just one of my best. Even from school, I was one of the best. You can check the records. I got a distinction, I went to Europe and got a First Class degree. My first award on television in Nigeria was the one I got in 1982 in NTA Ibadan. I can only say that Madam Dearest is just good enough for this generation to remember me by.

DAVIDO VS WIZKID: The true story

The singing duo, Davido and Wizkid never crossed path until the famous 'Omo Baba Olowo', (the aristocrat's son) became a sought after artiste. Somehow somewhere in their field of play, they met and knowing that they are both primus inter pares; they struck a chord of friendship and had remained so until sometime in May. The MoHits break-up almost pitched them against each other, but they never allowed that to take a total swipe on their bond.

The reason for this epistle is partly due to Davido's claim that he's got no beef with Wizkid in a video interview somewhere in Atlanta some days ago. According to an impeccable source, on a particular Thursday in May, Wizkid was in a hotel on the Island in Lagos and got bored. He called Davido over the phone. Davido at the said time was in a company of five other guys. So, he asked his aide (a Yoruba guy resident in Surulere) to pick him at a hotel behind 1004 building on Victoria Island. He later joined Davido at a club tucked inside the Civic Centre, where they had some drink before zooming off to Movida on Idowu Taylor, Victoria Island. He went in a Toyota Camry belonging to Davido's much older friend to Movida. And there, he ordered some bottles of Hennessy for himself and two friends who later joined him. Along the line, Wizkid had one drink too many and was whisked away into Davido's Honda car, 2012 model.

He was frail, gasping and threw up in the car parked inside the UBA which is just opposite the fun spot. The side doors were opened for him to get some fresh air. At this time, Davido had already disappeared from the scene. The bill was a little more than N500,000 and the bartenders were yet to be paid. So, they put pressure on Davido's aide who later drove them to Wizkid's house. He had grown slightly sane then and issued a cheque to the guys. He felt very betrayed and stopped calling Davido afterwards and he would do anything possible to make sure that his godfather, Banky W does not know something like that ever happened.

This put strain on their relationship and when Davido was extending invites to his guest for his last concert, he flagrantly ignored Wizkid. All these had happened before he boycotted Wizkid's performance at the NEA a couple of weeks back. With this, it's in the public court to judge who's got beef with who.

One of the hottest songsters on the bloc, Burna Boy who dazzled the other day with his debut, 'Like to Party' has released another enchanting sophomore single dubbed 'Tonite' at the wee hours of last Sunday. Expectedly, it is gradually enjoying fair airplay and may soon become an anthem of sort on the lips of music enthusiasts across the country.

Preparations are advanced towards an unusually enthralling show of Nnena and Friends dubbed Nnena and Friends Super Independence Shows in commemoration of Nigeria's 52nd Independence Anniversary. The shows will at first be taking place at two different venues; Blue Roof Hall, LTV8, Agidingbi, Ikeja on Sunday, September 30 and at the National Arts Theater, Iganmu on Monday, October 1. In the highlights of the event is a potpourri of every segment of entertainment delivered in a highly historic form. What to expect are lots of comedy, music and exciting games for every age. At the Blue Roof between 12-4pm on Sunday is the first show holding while the second is staged the following day but with a dual show, first between 12-3pm and the other holds from 3-6pm at the National Arts Theatre. The show in its precursor's successful run is boasting of first-class family entertainment which gets live performance of music acts like Jaywon, DJ Zeez, The Oshadipe Twins, the super hilarious Papa Ajasco and Company, Seyi Law, uproarious Akpororo and the quintessential MC Prince.

Optima Media Group (OMG), the executive producers of Nigerian Idol has announced the return of Nigerian Idol in what promises to be a breathtaking season. The 3rd Season of Nigerian Idol was launched on Wednesday, September 19 at the Shaba Events Centre, Ikeja, Lagos. And the launch saw the performance of a past winner of the Nigerian Idol, Mercy (Season1) with the runner-ups for the previous seasons, Naomi, Stephen and Joe Blue. Etisalat's Chief Commercial Officer, Wael Ammar reiterated his company's support for the reality show; "we are very excited to announce the continuation of our lead sponsorship of Nigerian Idol till 2013 and our desire to continue to empower Nigerian youths and we are calling on all youths to be the voice of tomorrow. Returning to Nigerian Idol for another season are the judges; African-American dancer, singer and Michael Jackson's personal choreographer, Jeffery Daniels, Yinka Davies and the 'Area Father', Charly Boy. On air personality, Rhymzo also returns as this year's host.

Fans and friends are still basking in the euphoria of Innocent Idibia, a.k.a. Tuface' 37th birthday celebration. And the Benue-born maestro feels the same way too. Last Sunday, it was a beehive of activities at Lagos popular pub, Scintilla Lekki-Ajah express way when some young individuals who named themselves 2FACEMANICS stormed the venue to launch an official Fan Club of Tuface worldwide. An official website was also launched in commemoration of the man they call; "our legend."

The Congo DR famous music export, Fally Ipupa may have made a U-turn from his rumoured participation in a Pre-Independence concert reported to have some of the finest artists of African descent on his bill. To be staged by Effrakata Entertainment, a Lagos-based company at the Harbour Point, Victoria Island on September 30, one of the stars not to expect, at least, in the mean time is Fally Ipupa, why? The handsome entertainer does not trust the reputation of the organizers well enough, we gathered authoritatively that he's yet to decide whether to perform at the show or not because he's heard unprintable comments about the team staging the show especially in the area of honouring financial terms.

Peter Okoye, half of the singing pair, P-Square was joined by her girlfriend, Lola Omotayo to celebrate his son, Cameron's birthday in the lad's school recently. The occasion of the boy's fourth birthday was a re-enactment of love between his parents who are yet to solemnize their union years after they've been together. The mini party held in the boy's crèche at Footsteps Playgroup last Monday, September 24. Peter's tweet has it that he obeyed his son who requested to see J. Martins perform for him just as he had Wizkid previously. J. Martins was at the school with Peter and Omotayo who already is carrying the singer's second baby. The lovebirds are said to have agreed on a low-key wedding after she put to bed.

My Story

Gabriel Babalola: I've Learnt to Trust nobody

After what seemed a forgotten phenomenon, Gabriel Babalola (Bigiano) who earned the credit for the award winning 'Shayo Master' album in 2009 is back from the blues. About what took him that long in oblivion and many more, he spoke to LANRE ODUKOYA and ATAI AKPAN recently

After your single, Shayo which won two of Soundcity Music and Video Awards, little or nothing has been heard from you since 2009?

After that album came out, a lot of shows and involvements in the industry in Nigeria, I travelled to restructure my career and my life and I think I'm good to go now. I deliberately took a break to re-strategize and package myself the way I desire to be perceived.

Three years to re-strategize?

I don't even care if it's ten years but I really want to come back big and it takes me time and I really do not have to start looking at anybody's take to make the right and bold step. I don't do my thing that way, I pray, work and wait for the right time which is now.

And now that you're back on the beat, what's in the offing for you?

Basically, I'm signed on to Lucy Naledy Alfa and we've got branch in South Africa and New York. My management company is Stat Media and my online partners are Stuff Media. So, with stronghold records, 5G Entertainment, Stat Media and Stuff Music, we are really good to set the ball rolling and conquer grounds with the good songs I have on ground right now. Let my fans watch out for my album which is going to be a rebranded one because the Shayo Master album I did was mismanaged and if it took me three years to correct my that anomaly, trust me, I'm going to do it right this time.

What about your collaboration with Wizkid in a single dubbed, 'Chilling' which leaked on the internet?

The anticipation of Bigiano comeback is what really got people out and they leaked that song. I remember that we were in the MoHits' house; it was like our house in Maryland, Lagos. Chizzi and I were working on that song and he came in and said he wanted to join what I was doing and I asked him to go ahead. I think people in-house got it leaked. So, for the new project I'm set out to do now, I've a couple of collaborations and I've got Wizkid on one.

Specifically, how soon is any of the singles dropping?

Basically, give me just a month and I'm going to be everywhere. My days are numbered in Nigeria right now and I'll like to do stuffs with my brother, 2face and I'll like to work with Eva. Eva is very pretty and the best female rapper Nigeria has got right now and next to her is Bouqqi. Eva's versatility made me fall in love with her. I cannot wait to begin the track and give it myself. I'm really in love with her flow so much that I cannot wait for the collabo to happen.

What kind of childhood did you have?

It was a silver spoon kind of childhood because my dad used to take me to late MKO Abiola's house every weekend because he was a publisher. He used to publish Africa Innovation Magazine and at a time worked with the defunct Concord Newspapers. He's a retired general, so he was close to Obasanjo and IBB both of whom were also Abiola's friend. So, were always seeing in Ikoyi and sometimes in Minna, IBB's place.

How is your son doing now?

My six year old boy is doing well in school.

Are you in a romantic relationship at present?

I think I'm not ready for that now; my marriage for now is to my career and after getting everything right perhaps I can give that a thought.

What lesson has your hiatus from the mainstream taught you?

It has taught me to be a smarter man and to trust nobody. I have learned enough these past few years.

You've worn this tattoo for many years now; would you clean it for any reason?

Until I have a good reason to do so, I won't because it's a representation of my feelings, some things that are very personal to me and they evoke some lasting emotions.

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