There are very few people on the Nigerian entertainment scene who are as daring and as different as Denrele Edun. The Channel O TV presenter is well known for his unique style and outgoing personality. He started his career on TV at the age of 11 presenting a children’s show, Kiddie Vision 101 on NTA. Thereafter, he delved into modeling as an undergraduate and joined Sound City as a TV presenter soon after graduating. During his five year stint with the music channel, he established himself as an eccentric and humorous presenter who is also very spontaneous. He joined Channel O in 2011 and has continued to build an impressive career reputation. He is also a well sought event host. In this exclusive interview with Bellanaija’s Adeola Adeyemo, the English Education graduate of University of Lagos talks about his personality, his style, his career, his family and much more!
If you are moody, and not ready to be playful, then you certainly can’t be around Denrele. I had assumed his spontaneity and playfulness was just for show, part of the “Denrele” brand but I was to realise that on and off camera, he was just being himself. It was hard to keep a straight face around him. He was friendly, playful I had a good laugh chatting with him.
Denrele, I’ve spent a while observing you and I realize your personality at home is not any different from what I see on camera. You’re just as lively as ever. What can you attribute your personality to?
I’m just a regular guy. I don’t take myself seriously. I’m fun, I’m lively, I’m vivacious, I’m all over the place. I wake up every morning and the first thing I do is scream. Sincerely, I’ve always been like this and I live each moment like it’s the last one. With me, what you see is what you get.
Why do you scream when you wake up every morning?
I don’t know, I just like it. I do it wherever I am; in any state, in any country. I just like looking for trouble really, especially in the middle of the night.
The “Denrele” brand
Let’s talk about your brand. Tell me about your journey into the limelight from the very beginning.
My first shot at fame was when I was really young, just a year old. I was born in Hamburg, Germany. My Dad took me for a photo shoot because I looked very exotic (I wish I was still as fine as I was then. Now I look like horror film). Some days after, he saw the same pictures of me with a baby milk product all over the place and went back to the photographer. He didn’t know he was supposed to get paid but all they gave him was a hundred cartons of milk. We came back to Nigeria later and I fell in love with music as a young boy. I always thought I was going to be an artiste. My dad had stacks of albums of artistes like Bonny M and Abba. Looking at all those album art covers, I got influenced and started to style my hair to school.
Have you been growing your hair since you were a kid?
Yes. It used to be so curly and wavy. I liked to experiment with fashion; I put a lot of stickers on my school bag, had an extra heel under my school shoes. I was in SS1 when I got my first real presence on TV at Kidivision 101. It was when I got into UNILAG that I went bunkers.I’m very intrigued by your style. There are only a handful of people around who would dare to dress like you. What influenced your unique style?
I didn’t have too many clothes but I wanted to be different from the guy next door. I started off wearing baggy shirts and baggy jeans and because I was unsure of how to flaunt my hair, I used to hide it under a cap. At a point, people thought I was a girl hiding under guy’s clothing. But when I started modeling, I came in contact with clothes people wear on the runway but not off the runway and I was fascinated. So I went back and I started the trend of the mono-sleeve. I will cut one sleeve off my long-sleeve shirt and wear it. I cut and shred my jeans in different ways. People thought I was crazy but I stood out at every casting. I was the shortest and skinniest model but I always landed the runway jobs. All the designers saw me as flexible and dramatic so I did a lot of drama with their clothes.
Despite how unique your style is, it is not generally accepted. Some people think it’s crazy, some think it’s a bit feminine.
Fashion is all about the clothes but style is in the wearer. What I think I have done with myself is I have picked different things from different places and I’ve fused it into my look. My look is fun, it’s not serious at all but at least it’s serious enough for me to get compliments, good or bad, I really don’t care. Good publicity is good publicity, bad publicity is good publicity, no publicity at all is bad publicity.The VJ
You’ve spoken about the modeling era. Let’s talk about the VJ era. As a VJ and TV personality, what we see on you now are clothes that look really expensive.
They are expensive but I’d be very sincere, I do not spend a dime on clothes. I get a lot of freebies. The shoe collections I have are all gifts. People buy them and give me. Every item I’m wearing now are gifts from different people.
Lucky you. But really, when was the last time you bought something expensive for yourself?
I’ve only splurged once on a pair of shoes. I was in Atlanta and that was the first time I met Domenico Dolce of Dolce & Gabbana. The shoe was from the Elvis Presley collection but I got to pay half price after walking the runway with the shoes and their clothes. They gave me the clothes free.
You became really popular while working with Sound City. How did you get your job with the music channel and what was your experience like?
I graduated in 2004 and got my first job with Sound City right after in 2005. I had previously worked with Tajudeen Adepetu on Everyday People. He called me and said he wanted to set up a music channel. When I joined at first, I was the only one who didn’t have a show. So I planned and strategized for several months and I came up with the Red Carpet Show. They didn’t think it would fly but after doing three Red Carpet Shows, my name was on the lips of every brand manager, event planner, agency and consultant. I think it was hardwork that paid off at the end of the day. I worked with Sound City for five years from 2005 to late 2010.
Your exit from Sound City was followed with some media buzz. Were you sacked or you did you leave voluntarily?
It was a little of both. I heard beforehand that they thought I was overexposed for the brand and that I was going to be let off so I decided to leave before that. But I asked for all the things I felt I was being owed and I didn’t get but I just let it go. It was a very dramatic exit. Someday, maybe when I write my book, I would put everything in it. I am going to be 30 in June so I’m thinking of releasing my book then. I’m really going to chronicle what happened. Nobody should be scared about anything but I think a lot of people deserve to know what really happened.
I didn’t know you were a writer.
My mode of writing reflects my personality. When you read it you’d know this is Denrele writing. I used to write a couple of articles for The Future, now Y Magazine and when we had Sound City Blast Magazine, I was the head writer.
How soon did the Channel O job come after you left Sound City?
It came in May 2011.
You have a bigger platform now at Channel O, but you still do similar things as what you used to do with Sound City.
Because Channel O understands what brand expansion is all about. I’m very spontaneous when it comes to the red carpet. The red carpet as they say is a place where stars are born and sometimes buried. I feel the red carpet is one place I can express myself to the max. It gives me the opportunity to say what I want to say without giving a hoot.
The Red Carpet
As someone who has interviewed a lot of celebrities on the red carpet, tell me about some of your favourites who never disappoint with their outfits and composure.
I love this question! There are people I look forward to seeing on the red carpet and some who I have to force answers out of them but I usually know what to say to make them loosen up. One person I look forward to interviewing all the time is Stephanie Linus. She pushes the envelope. I call her style casual sophistication. We chat and we laugh and we tease each other. Ramsey Nouah is also someone I always look forward to seeing on the red carpet. There is one side to him people don’t really know which I’ve been able to discover. He is a comedian! D’Banj is also very spontaneous. We’d look for something around us and start cracking jokes with it.
Give me more female names…
I love interviewing Goldie not because she’s my friend, but because you always look out for what she’ll wear on the red carpet. Helen Prest Ajayi is so graceful but I make her do one or two crazy things once in a while. One person who always makes me feel happy is Remi Tinubu. After every interview, Remi would send her entourage to call me and she would give me an envelope. I will quickly put it in my pocket and when my producer asks me, What was she telling you? I’d say, Ah, she was shaking my hand telling me well done.
What is the craziest thing you’ve asked someone to do on the red carpet?
There was someone who showed me her underwear on the red carpet, I can’t remember her name. I said “everybody has told me you are not wearing underwear but you need to prove it to me”. She showed me her bra and then she lifted the hem of her skirt and showed me her underwear. Clean, sparking, Victoria Secret!A few weeks ago, Karen Igho was allegedly slapped at an event by a mobile policeman. It was reported she attended that event to support you. What really happened there?
I’m not going to deny that, I was the one who invited her. During the show, she came backstage to meet me and said “Denrele when are you bringing me on stage?” I said “Soon, you must come and do small craze for me”. That was the last conversation we had before the incident. I think she wanted to go to her car to touch up. I was even looking for her and when I didn’t see her, I had to introduce the last act for the night. Later my cousin who was with her when it happened ran to call us. Everybody was livid with rage including the Smirnoff officials and security guards. I had to calm her down and got someone to take her home. She was really distraught. By the next day, it was all over social media and people kept asking me what I did about it.
I have to ask too. What did you do about it?
I’m not going to go into details on what I did but I did make a lot of calls and the person who committed the act has been called to order. They have fished out the person. Smirnoff and the agency handling security for them are looking into it.
Family & Relationships
On a lighter note, your relationship status and sexuality has been a hot topic on some media platforms with some alleging that you’re gay…
I am very single, I’m searching and ready to mingle. A lot of people brought up that sexuality issue. When you are in this industry, people tend to look for loopholes. I am just a sexual outlaw, very adventurous. People have judged from my dressing and my effeminate nature.
How would you describe your ideal woman?
I love heels on a woman, that is why I have a thing for models. I’ve dated a lot of models. I love to see women strut in heels. I love women who can strike up a very good conversation. I like someone I can go to the salon with and we are washing our hair together and she is not freaking out or saying what her friends are thinking of the fact that I’m under a dryer. I love a woman who has a good sense of style and not somebody who would try to change me. And also a woman who would not be threatened by the female friends that I have because I have loads of female friends.
I’m curious. Would you cut your hair if you were paid to do it?
Ah, I would cut it oh! Bring money.
Give me a figure.
I haven’t really thought about a figure but I would cut it for as low as N5million. The hair would grow back.
You have long and soft hair. Who do you take after?
My Mum, her hair is so long. Her Dad is Indian and her Mum is from Mauritius. My Dad is a Yoruba man from Abeokuta. So I am even nationality confused, I don’t know where I’m from.
You must have very supportive parents who allowed you express yourself while growing up.
My parents are amazing people. Family is the best gift anyone can have. I remember when people used to attack my Dad in church about me and my crazy style, we would laugh about it. I haven’t seen my Mum in 12 years because she is not in the country. She travelled to Dublin when things got really tough at some point. My Dad lost his job and my Mum had to take up about four jobs. We were staying in the family house so there were conflicts everyday.
12 years is a long time. Are you going to see her soon?
I am going to see her early this year. We’ve been in touch, she calls everyday, she has even called this morning. I have an amazing family. They allowed me express my individuality.
It was great chatting with Denrele and from Bellanaija.com, we wish him the very best!
Watch some Red Carpet Moments with Denrele
Photo Credit: TCD Photography | Shola Animashaun