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How Justin UG Does It All – From Wanting to Be A Doctor to Becoming a Content Creation Phenom



It was the year 2009, and Micheal Jackson had just died. It was all over the news; everyone was talking about it, and his music and dance videos were being broadcast across the world. The news got to young Justin who was tucked away in his private space. As he watched Michael Jackson’s electrifying dance moves on the screen, he found himself mesmerised and so curious that he challenged himself to imitate the dance steps. From there, he became interested in dancing.

One social night in secondary school, he had the chance to perform his dance and “people went crazy.” That feedback sparked something within him, igniting a burning desire to pursue this new-found passion even further.

And he did. Now, Justin Chukwudi Ugonna, popularly known as Justin UG, is living life as a multi-talented artist, content creator, actor, and aspiring DJ.

In this conversation, he discloses that he wasn’t a funny child who wanted to make skits or be in the limelight, he simply wanted to “go to school, become a doctor, get a job, get married and live my life.” He describes his evolvement in the creative world as an “unexpected turn.” He’s also working on a hooge project.

We had a good time talking to him.

Hi Justin, how are you today?

I’m great!

Good. From wanting to be a doctor to becoming a social media sensation, tell us how this all started. 

It started in 2009 when Vine was still reigning. Facebook too. I started off with dancing, I’d do all these Micheal Jackson dance videos and sometimes, I’d be paid to perform. Even when they gave me 2k or 3k, I’d take it. I’d post those videos on Vine. I also used to do skits a little bit and post too. And then, from dancing, I evolved. I started doing photography. From photography, I started doing video directing. It was just a lot. I came to the U.S. in 2016 and I started YouTube. I was doing reaction videos, and comedies here and there until I moved to Instagram.

You’ve come a long way, Justin, but let’s rewind a little. Is there any part of your childhood that prepared you for this?

No. I don’t think there’s anything that really prepared me for it. When everything started, my mum was the most confused person. You know, I had read this book by Ben Carson, Gifted Hands and for a very long time, my mind was on becoming a doctor. Then I switched and said I wanted to be an electrical engineer. My mum agreed. And out of nowhere, I started entering the entertainment industry, so she became confused.

It was just something I enjoyed doing. I knew how happy I was whenever I was making these videos. At that time, people were not making videos to make money, it was just “make your videos, make people happy and go your own way.”

How has being a multitalented artist shaped your career?

I’d say it has saved me a lot of money because I don’t have to outsource many things. For instance, let’s say I want to do a photoshoot for something, I know how to take pictures, so I’ll do it myself. I also make music on the side. So if I need a soundtrack for any of my videos, I’ll do it myself. If I want to make a trailer for one of my films, I’ll do it myself. I feel like, there was a reason God was just letting me experience all these things. At the end of the day, I’d have an idea of at least everything so I’d know how to package it and focus on one.

Saving money while making money, cool! Let’s talk about the High School Chronicles. You released the first edition three years ago, what makes the present one different?

The first one was just to introduce a comic book that was coming out. It wasn’t really centred around how secondary school really was. The difference between this one and that one is that this one is something people will relate more to it. If you can’t relate to it, your friend will relate to it. The other one was just more so just a short film.


Speaking of relativity, you have the oddest character names.

Ha ha

How do you come up with these names? What’s the inspiration behind them?

The first time I used a weird name was in 2018 or ’19. That’s not something people usually do. But then I was just making a video and I wanted to call another character and said ‘Surprise’. I said, ‘omo, I’ll just leave it like that.’ I did not think so much about it. And then I posted it and people picked up that name and I was like, something I didn’t even place my focus on. From there, I thought, oh, you people like this one abi, I will give you another one. And that has become part of the brand. I like it. In fact, people now send me names.

We love it! Especially ‘Offering’. You’re a busy person, Justin, yet you wear many hats. Walk us through your schedule and how you make time for all these interests.  

So, I work 8-5 in the US but this is my daily schedule: I go to work when I come back, I eat and sleep for about 2 hours, wake up and start thinking of the videos to make. Usually, it takes about an hour to shoot and edit. Once I’m done, I rewatch it several times to make sure I’m on track. I always make sure to post by 1 am – that’s like 9 pm in Nigeria. Once I’m done posting, I’ll respond to some comments, sleep and wake up by 6 am to go to work.

Does that mean the time difference is a challenge?

To an extent, yea. The majority of my audience is in Nigeria.

Apart from that, what other challenges do you face generally?

Content blocking is also part of the immediate challenge. But this year, I haven’t really experienced that so far. In general, honestly, it would be finances. I have these big ideas to create something better and bigger but I can’t really follow up because they need heavy financial backing, but we’re getting there.

How much do you get paid for your videos?

For the longest time, I was not paid for it because I started with the joy and fun of it. It was just recently that content creation became a full-time job for a lot of people. Before you could get $800 in a month from Instagram but they’ve stopped paying for reels. But you definitely get ads from brands and musical artists who want you to promote their songs and others. Those are just the little avenues to make money.

Do you think content creation is enough to meet all your finances? 

100%. I know how much I will be making if I don’t have this full-time job. Like I know the number of hours I’d be able to put into it. 

You guys, Justin is a sinzu spender.

Haa, not yet! Not yet.

Is there anything you want to share about Justin that we do not know?

Whenever people meet me, they are very confused because I am a very shy person. If you see me, we’d just be staring at each other because I don’t know what to say to you. I feel like that is one thing people do not know about me even though I’ve said it a thousand times. When they meet me, they expect the same version of me on social media.

Remember we said Justin is working on something hooge? Here we go…  

I’m working on an extended version of  High School Chronicles, maybe 8-10 episodes of probably 45 minutes each. That’s the big project I’m working on right now. There’s no release date because the financial backing is not set yet but that’s what I’m looking forward to. At least, I’m in the scripting process, making sure it is perfected and making sure it is not something I’ve done before. We’re trying to get a publishing company for it but if we can’t, I don’t mind YouTube.

We’re looking forward to this! Tell us what motivates you to keep going.

The comments! I just go and read the comments. Whenever I read comments, I feel like they know me so well and that gives me hope that if people can see me this way, I just cannot stop because I’m already too deep into it. As I said, when I started I was not looking for the money that everyone’s looking for right now. I enjoyed doing it because I make people happy.

What’s your perspective on content creation in Nigeria right now?

From when I was in Nigeria till now,  there has been a huge gap between what content creation was and what it is now. I cannot even remember when we transitioned from maybe skits to using the word “content creator”. People are beginning to see the need for content creators now especially when that TV is declining. The audience is on social media. 

We agree! We have many creators doing amazing things now. What can creators do differently to plant their feet in the industry?

Keep evolving! They should just follow the trails of past content creators. Nigerians can learn from the people that have mastered it already. Master the business and get more people to come on board because this is a job opportunity if you are good. Come in and see how you can make money. You don’t need a resume or CV.

Thank you, Justin, for being a part of this conversation. 

Thank you, BellaNaija, for having me and supporting me through the years.



Photos and Videos from Justin’s Instagram and Twitter

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