There is logic behind my craziness
Denrele Edun is a Nigerian television host popularly known for his eccentric fashion style. Weekend Magazine caught-up with him at an event in Abuja, recently, where he spoke about his brand, marriage plans and lifestyle.
Weekend Magazine: You said you began making money when you began to look crazy. Could you tell us more about that?
Denrele Edun: Even though that was like a joke, there was an element of seriousness to it. I tell people normal is boring. I make a joke that when I was normal, money no dey o. But now wey madness enter the system, money come the enter. [sic]
What I tell people is that you cannot create a certain level of change without some level of madness. And that madness is, non-conformity. You turn your back on the old formula, shut your eyes to it and invent your formula.
WM: What have you invented?
Denrele: I stand for self-expression. I stand for individuality. I stand for letting my personality shine. I stand for not listening to what gainsayers are saying. I may come as going over board, but some will admire the creativity in the brand and my identity as well.
WM: Did your parents accept this identity, brand of yours?
Denrele: Let me start with my extended family members. Then, my grandmother would wake up in the morning and start shouting, ‘Denrele, I hope you are not going mad.’ She said it in Yoruba. She thought I was already going mad but that I was using cloths to cover up my madness.
The person I respect most is my dad. Even though he is a Yoruba man, and people thought he would say ‘God forbid’ he said nothing. I think he had a vision that this would work for me. And remember, I started my hustle back before the advent of internet. I started out in show biz in 1994 on Kiddies Show [‘Tales by Moonlight’]on NTA. And I landed my first magazine cover in 1996, I was in SS2. I was on the TV Guide by NTA. They said I was a kid actor. I was so awed. It shaped me to be the individual I grew into. Take away the looks, the outlandishness, the over expressiveness and the big shoes, people would agree with me that I know what I am saying.
WM: Tell us about the Acronym MAD?
Denrele: This means Making a Difference (MAD). I am a different individual. I am unique in my thinking. Distinct in my thoughts. My life has purpose. My dreams matter and I love myself. And the world needs the difference I am making. It may be small but it is catching on. Parents are beginning to appreciate or allow their children to go into showbiz. May be not that their children should dress this way, but a lot of parents are beginning to allow their children to go into show biz. It was not like in my time. I have a lot of parents who call me to help mentor their kids. You would say, who is Denrele mentoring? I used to be a teacher. I worked as a teacher when I finished secondary school before I got to UNILAG just to make some money. I was not born with a silver spoon.
WM: But, do you make money out of this your brand?
Denrele: Mama, I have come a long way. It’s not just wearing outlandish shoes and carrying afro hairdo. I have a job. I am a media boy. I have been in the media as long as I can remember. We pioneered the Sound City Music Channel, I officially started it. From Sound City, I moved to Channel O Africa, I have a show on MTV base and I have my show on Ebony Life, it’s called ‘The Boots.’ I am in a keke with Frank Dung and I look for people to harass. I pioneered the red-carpet culture in Nigeria. Let’s face it, the red carpet could be synonymous to my name because that is how I started my hustle. When I’m on the red-carpet, I thought of how to get people’s attention. At first, people ran away because they were not accustomed to people looking like me. But on the red- carpet, I attract people, chat with them and they forget whatever it was that stressed them up. Then people started saying, ‘that boy who interviewed me on the red carpet.’
WM: So, are you happy doing your job?
Denrele: Ahh, I think I am the happiest person alive.
WM: Are you getting married soon?
Denrele: By God’s grace. My elderly friends tell me, ‘Denrele go and marry.’
WM: Have you found the girl?
Denrele: That is it, not yet. Because I have not found someone to love me the way I deserve, does not mean I don’t deserve to be loved. The fact that someone may find me hard to love, does not mean I am hard to love. I am easy to love. I know the right person will come. I am easy to love. Then, I am not as complicated as people think. But come closer, you will see the real me. I am simple.
WM: When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you like your looks? I mean the afro hairdo and so on?
Denrele: I like what I see and I say to myself, anybody wey no like am should jump over 3rd mainland bridge. [sic]
WM: Who makes your hair?
Denrele: I make my hair. I do everything myself. I am left-handed. I weave my hair. It’s always difficult to weave the right side.
WM: This is your natural hair?
Denrele: Yes. This is my hair. The food I eat goes to my hair. But again, I’m mixed. My mum is not Nigerian. My mums’ dad is Indian and her mum is from Mauritius. And I was born in Germany. But my dad is Nigerian.
WM: Your mum is happy with who you are?
Denrele: She lives in Dublin now, Ireland. There was a time CNN profiled me, and then she went to a store and my picture fell out of her wallet. And someone just said to her, ‘this boy was just on CNN, he is such a huge deal.’ My mum called immediately, Rele, how are you? What are you doing in Nigeria? Everything fine with you? She said she knew I would definitely do entertainment because she said I was very intrigued by her Indian culture. I love their music, movies and attires. And then my dad, just went with the flow.
WM: Have you ever been embarrassed?
Denrele: It happens every single day. I am not going to deny it. Again, I can spin negativity into positivity. I laugh about it. I remember one time, I was in a very high-brow hang out in Lagos with my friends. And one of the guys said if I were in their country, they would have burnt me like a stick. My friends told me. But when I came in, I went to say ‘hi’ to him and he was very surprised.
Again, someone wanted to break bottle on my head. And more like that. So, I get this all the time. But I am not bothered. Their opinion is not my reality. I am myself.
WM: Tell us about your educational background?
Denrele: They know me in UNILAG. After my primary school, I went to St Gregory College, Lagos. I finished in 1997. Because I was not up to 16 years, I took up a teaching job to raise money to seek school. I taught for a year in a primary school. I was doing extra couching and teaching some students as well.
I met someone in UNILAG and we are best of friends till date. She is Linda Ikeji. We did English Education together. Even though we asked ourselves [then] what we would do with it, we excelled. I left UNILAG with a Second Class Upper. When I did my teaching practice, it was a five-unit course, I had an A because I set my mind that I was going to do the course.
In 300 level, I was modelling and acting like a side hustle.
WM: Do you have private life?
Denrele: I don’t have that anymore. I just moved from where I was to a new place. But when I come home, I have friends standing by. People come close to me because they feel I listen. People want someone to listen to them. I am very patient, I listen to people, and I do what I can do, if I am in a position to do it. I am very receptive. I am not a celebrity, I am just a local champion from Yaba.