I will cut my hair for as low as 5 million naira- Denrele Edun
Denrele Edun, a name that reverberates along events hallways and ripples across red carpets. Malcom Gladwell, author of Outliers†says that you can call yourself an outlier when you’ve reached the level whereby calling your first name alone is enough to ring-a-bell in the minds of people. Denrele has stood out in a niche he created for himself and would have people finding it hard to fill his boots. The Channel O presenter who kicked off his presenting career at the age of 11 on Kiddie Vision 101 on NTA, has established himself as an eccentric and humorous presenter. A must-have for every media house.†He is also a well sought event host. In this exclusive interview with Bellanaijaís†Adeola Adeyemo, the English Education graduate of University of Lagos talks about his personality, his style, his career, his family and much more!
Denrele, Iíve spent a while observing you and I realize your personality at home is not any different from what I see on camera. Youíre just as lively as ever. What can you attribute your personality to?
Iím just a regular guy. I donít take myself seriously. Iím fun, Iím lively, Iím vivacious, Iím all over the place. I wake up every morning and the first thing I do is scream. Sincerely, Iíve always been like this and I live each moment like itís the last one. With me, what you see is what you get.
Why do you scream when you wake up every morning?
I donít 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.
Letís 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 didnít 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.
Fashion is all about the clothes but style is in the wearer.
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.
Iím 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 didnít 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 guyís 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 itís crazy, some think itís 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 Iíve fused it into my look. My look is fun, itís not serious at all but at least itís serious enough for me to get compliments, good or bad, I really donít care. Good publicity is good publicity, bad publicity is good publicity, no publicity at all is bad publicity.
Youíve spoken about the modeling era. Letís 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 Iíd 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 Iím wearing now are gifts from different people.
Lucky you. But really, when was the last time you bought something expensive for yourself?†
Iíve 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.
†Good publicity is good publicity, bad publicity is good publicity, no publicity at all is bad publicity
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 didnít have a show. So I planned and strategized for several months and I came up with the Red Carpet Show. They didnít 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 didnít 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 Iím thinking of releasing my book then. Iím 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 didnít know you were a writer.
My mode of writing reflects my personality. When you read it youíd 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. Iím 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 donít really know which Iíve been able to discover. He is a comedian! DíBanj is also very spontaneous. Weíd look for something around us and start cracking jokes with it.
Give me more female namesÖ
I love interviewing Goldie not because sheís my friend, but because you always look out for what sheíll 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?†Iíd say,†Ah, she was shaking my hand telling me well done.
What is the craziest thing youíve asked someone to do on the red carpet?†
There was someone who showed me her underwear on the red carpet, I canít remember her name. I said ďeverybody†has told me you are not wearing underwear but you need to prove it to meĒ. 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?
Iím not going to deny that, I was the one who invited her. During the show, she came backstage to meet me and said ďDenrele when are you bringing me on stage?Ē I said ďSoon, you must come and do small craze for meĒ.†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 didnít 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?
Iím 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 youíre gayÖ
I am very single, Iím 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. Iíve 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 Iím 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.
Iím 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 havenít 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 donít know where Iím 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 havenít 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. Weíve been in touch, she calls everyday, she has even called this morning. I have an amazing family. They allowed me express my individuality.