In this day and age, becoming a Youtube sensation is one thing, being able to capitalize on it by remaining relevant to create an empire-well that's not something you see often.
On March 22, I had the immense pleasure of interviewing the hugely talented comedian and actor, Tolu Ogunmefun, AKA "T-Boy" AKA "Don't Jealous Me."
I remember watching his videos through the night when I was supposed to be up studying for midterms and exams at university (sorry mom). I can't even remember who exactly introduced his videos to me but all I know is I kept looking forward to the next episodes, or as he called them "Part letters".
A celebrity in his own right, he is now being booked to host shows across the globe and all thanks to a camera and the internet.
I wasn't nervous before the interview, no, not until the president of the African Students' Association at the University of Toronto was about to open the door to his change room and asked me the dreaded question, "Are you ready?" and I thought to myself, "Am I?" Well, it was too late to back down.
I did not know what to expect in terms of a response from Tolu after I walked into the changeroom. "Would he be reserved?", "Would he be aloof or disconnected?", "Would he even smile?" but all these questions were answered when, being the nervous bundle that I was, proceeded to stretch out my hand to greet him (and do a failed courtsey at the same time) only for him to laugh and open his arms and lean in for a hug.
The rest of the interview went on so smoothly and was pack-full of laughter and here are the excerpts:
Me: Welcome to Canada!
T-Boy: Thank you!
Me: How was the journey here?
T-Boy: (crossing his legs and placing hand on his chin): I've always wanted to sit like this by the way, I don't know why...
Umm, journey: 8 hours. TV:1. I love Canada, I've been here before; came here 2 years ago. Canada's great and I can't wait to perform.
Me: Have you been able to do any sight-seeing since you git here?
T-Boy: Well we were able to see a bit of downtown when we got here yesterday. Visited a couple of the shops-Gucci.
Me: Did you buy anything?
T-Boy: NO! Why?-Because it's (h)expensive!
But that's about it really but we're looking to turn up tonight!That's where the fun's going to be. So after the show is the after party. After the party is the after after party then we gonna get naughty! *Gives this weird stare*
Me: Oh Lord. I won't even ask. Too much information. How long are you here for?
T-Boy:Until tomorrow. So I won't really be able to do anything.
Me: Aww sorry.
T-Boy: It's unfortunate.
Me: Aww I'm sorry.
T-Boy: It's ok.
Me: Do you see any major discrepancies between Canada and the UK from the 2 visits you've made here? Could be anything from the architecture to the people.
T-Boy: Hmm, they're quite similar, really. People are a lot nicer, I guess. They were nice to me when I got to the hotel; they probably thought I was a basketball player. I used to play basketball and I was pretty good but they didn't take me on but that's a different story.
Me: We thank God they didn't take you though, we wouldn't have had you (Don't Jealous Me).
T-Boy: It's true oo, God na so. You've got some ways.
But yeah, the people are really nice.
Me: There's no denying the immense success of Don't Jealous Me.Is comedy something you always wanted to do?
T-Boy: No. I actually wanted to play basketball and took that very seriously and actually went to Houston, tried out, it didn't work out, went back to the UK and in 2008, I made my first video and that was just spontaneous. I went into the kitchen with my friend, got a burger, went to the room, started eating the burger, I was attacking it because I was so hungry *makes loud chewing noises* and she was recording the way I was eating and the first thing I said was (in his Nigerian accent) "Don't jealous me;because you don't have burger in your country!" and she was dying of laughter. I didn't really see it as that funny but she posted it to Facebook and it got shared around and I made another video and that got shared around and I thought "I really have a passion for this."
Me: That's amazing, wow. Now back to the basketball. You had mentioned you wanted to go into basketball, what position did you play?
T-Boy: I was actually a point guard. Pretty fast. Moves. Dribble. Score.Shoot. Basket. Ball.
Me: We get it, we get it.
T-Boy: All day. Me. By myself.
Me: Oh God... Moving on...You do look taller than you do in the videos, I was slightly taken aback when I saw you (T-boy stands at at least 6'3).
Is comedy a full time thing now and is it something you wish to do forever?
T-Boy: Yes, acting in general is a full time thing for me. It's not only comedy that I'm about. I'm looking to get into some serious roles and do some other stuff so people can actually see my talents.
Me: That's great. I did see that you have the T-Boy show premiering April 1st. Is it going to be more of a scripted comedy show or is it improv?
T-Boy: I would say it's more written comedy. It's a TV sitcom that will be a cross between "Coming to America" and "Fresh Prince of Bel Air."
Me: Oh wow.
T-Boy: Yea. My lines are probably more of improv. A lot is scripted but then improv is used to make it sweeter, you know-for the fans.
Me: That's amazing and really congratulations on that.
T-Boy; Thank you very much.
Me: With all of this, where does T-Boy see himself in 5 years?
T-Boy: T-Boy in 5 years sees himself in Hollywood.
Me: Aha, not Nollywood.
T-boy: No, not Nollywood...well I mean...nah no, not Nollywood. Let's just leave that to the side. The fake effects...Have you seen the films these days?
Me: They're better.
T-Boy: *sarcastically* They're better...which was the last film you saw?
Me: The last one I saw was Blackberry Babes.
T-Boy: Really? I saw that film. Guys, that film is...is a good...let's move on..
Yea, I see myself in Hollywood, that's the plan.
Me: So do you want to reflect Will Smith's path into Hollywood where he started with the comedy and then branched into the more serious acting?
T-Boy: Yes, that's exactly what I want to do. Right.
Me:So can you give me an impersonation of Denzel?
T-Boy: *doing his best Denzel laugh from Training Day* My girl, because you ain't "my man", My girl, my n***a.
Me: That was pretty good.
T-Boy; Was it? I think that was bad.
Me: Okay. Well, my website is more of a fashion blog and I was actually nominated for a Black Canadian Award...
T-Boy: Uh-oh. Go you! Hey!
Me: Yes, So I have to say, you're usually well put together so I wanted to know:do you style yourself, do you dress yourself? Or do you have someone who does it for you?
T-Boy: Well you see, it's part of comedy and I have a couple of people who work for me. I have 2 stylists at the moment. Before hand I used to style myself because I had the eyes for swag you know.
Me: *clears throat* Okayyy
T-Boy: But yea, my stylists are the ones who put me together now.
Me; Hmm, wow 2 stylists...must be nice.
T-Boy: *Mimicking my voice* Must be nice.
Me: When was the last time you had a fashion faux pas and what happened?
T-Boy: Umm, It was at my house... You know how when you're at home you're not meant to be dressed.
Me: But being at home doesn't count.
T-Boy: Oh yea, because I was at home and some school kids came to the door and were like, "Hey, that's the Don't Jealous Me" boy...and I was like "Oh shet!" because I was dressed so crappy. I said, "it's not me, it's my father" and I went back upstairs and changed clothes. I remember that day...January 31st.
Me: This year?
Me: Oh wow, so you were famous. (Makes the story even jucier).
Okay, well along the lines of goals and aspirations... I have an aunty's cousin niece in the village.
T-Boy: Hehehe, okay.
Me: Well your dreams align with hers so I wanted to know if you will marry her.
T-Boy: Okayy..Hey! Hmm, can I at least see a picture first?
Me: there's no cameras in the village.
T-Boy: Then I'm wondering how did she even see my videos if there's no wifi in the village.
Me: There's the cyber cafes once a week...
T-Boy; Okayy interesting. Once a week she gets to see my face...Lies
Me: So my final question is: Canada or UK to live permanently?
T-Boy: Can I say none of them?
T-Boy: Hollywood! But hey, I don't mind Canada. I mean, you never know where the money goes you know...that's where I'll be.
Me: And that brings the interview to an end.
Thanks so much for doing the interview and all the best for tonight's show and with everything.
T-Boy: Thank you very much.
The T-Boy Show premiers on April 1st in London only on London Live.
Make sure to check it out! Tolu appeared in a London paper which promoted his show, sure to be a hit:
His YouTube channel here: Don't Jealous Me On YouTube