How did your journey into the entertainment industry begin?
It started a long time ago when I was growing up in Benin City, Edo State though my family didn’t approve at first. I wanted to do arts but they wanted me to do science so I was a science student and acting in school on the low. I started at the age of eight, attending competitions. When I was 10 years old, I joined the Uyi Edo Theatre Group in Benin City where my quest for entertainment started.
Professionally, my career began when I relocated to Lagos in 2000 after I lost my mum. I started with music because I also sing and write songs. I met Slam and worked as his personal assistant. Through his connections, I met several other big names in the industry and had two records. After a while, my music group split, and then I started my comedy career at the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos State, where I was given the name ‘Idi.’ Later on, I studied Theatre and Media Arts at the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State. I was directing a theatre group while in school and kept shuffling between Lagos and Edo State because I had events in Lagos during the weekends.
When I graduated, I started a theatre group with Lotanna and company where I trained several actors and directed movies like Clip Now, Couple of Days, and Ajuwaya, for the group before the big break that gave me the recognition I had in an African Magic movie titled ‘Unbroken.’ Afterwards, I was a floor manager for Teju Babyface Show for eight years and also Helen Paul’s creative director. Since then I have had other engagements. That’s how the journey has been.
Why were you called ‘Idi’?
Back then in YABATECH, I and a good friend, Soji did comedy together. I would speak in English and he interpreted in Yoruba. My first statement usually was, “There is a reason we are in this school” and he would interpret by saying, “A ni Idi ti a fi wa ni school yi.” Idi means reason, so that was how I got the name.
Which aspect of the entertainment industry makes you most fulfilled?
It’s quite difficult to say because I’m a round character actor. I am addicted to the theatre and entertainment industry and do it all seamlessly. Acting is my life. It’s something I can do at any time of the day. This also applies to comedy and writing. If I choose, it will be acting and comedy because that is my everyday life.
What would you have loved to do apart from entertainment?
If you take away entertainment, then you have taken away my life. Entertainment has not just helped me to stay happy but to make people happy. It has redefined living for me since I lost my parents. However, one thing I would have been doing well if I wasn’t an entertainer is driving. I love driving and can drive for a living.
What is the secret behind your successes as a round character actor?
I owe everything to God, sometimes I don’t know how I do these things. I combine them seamlessly because I’m passionate, committed, and happy with what I do. I have a flair for entertainment so it makes it easy for me to remain consistent. Also, I don’t rest. I see what I did the previous day as obsolete. I have a penchant for perfection and good work.
What are some of the challenges you faced?
One major challenge is ‘The Nigerian syndrome’ of denying one opportunity one is qualified for because one isn’t highly connected. I was deprived of big jobs I would have been slated for because I didn’t have connections and it affected my career negatively. Also, tribalism robbed me of some opportunities and it was quite discouraging. I laugh whenever I face rejection because I know it is the stepping stone to my greatness.
What is your advice to up-and-coming entertainers?
They should know that the quest for good content is now on the increase so they must research well before creating content. Their content should be to address the ills of society and peep into the future. They should fuse hard work into their creativity and not expect instant gratification. They must be organic, dot the I’s, and cross their T’s. They must learn to be spontaneous and creative. They must be passionate about the job and believe in themselves.