Our interview with the Ndani ‘twins’ Onos Overuaye and Toyin Jolapamo was special; they were in the middle of a shoot with Tomi Thomas of LOS for the Ndani Sessions somewhere inside Lekki phase one. There was a sparse room filled with awesome acoustics and Tomi Thomas at the centre, belting tunes to the direction of Onos. It was an experience seeing them in their element.
We managed to steal them away from the music for an hour (Tomi Thomas and his band were quite capable of handling the music all on his own) and got them to chat with us.
1. First of all, belated congratulations on the new shows; On the Red Carpet, The Cut and creating content for Gidi Up and The Juice which wrapped up its second season a while ago. You both are literally industry veterans so young. What gives?
Toyin: I don’t really consider myself a veteran yet. I feel like I still have a lot to do to get myself there.
Onos: I love music. That’s the basic thing that has kept me here and of course I don’t think I’ll reach veteran status until I do my own thing, but it’s great that you guys think of us that way.
2. Tell us about the new shows coming up
Toyin: On The Red Carpet is our main gig. But I also produce and direct Ndani’s Stripped and Behind The Scene. Also in development are some other shows.
Onos: I also direct the Ndani Sessions. And Toyin and I are developing a show called No Chill, a kind of politically incorrect talk show/skit vehicle.
3. Who is Onos O and TheSohoSister, for those not in the know?
Onos: I’m basically a music geek. But a music geek that’s in love with the interpretation of music through film, I’m a film buff too. If there was one thing you needed to know about me, it would be that.
Toyin: Well I am the SohoSister; The SohoSister is a brand mostly an image that represents everything I am. Half wang girl, half tomboy and all around awesome.
4. Onos O, you have a ‘history’ with fashion and Lifestyle Brands; first with Bella Naija and now with Ndani TV. What was it like, working at Bella Naija?
Onos: It was a learning curve, and still has been a learning curve all the way. It’s weird but I’ve learned far more on the job than I learned at school. So my philosophy and approach has been to throw myself into opportunities that give me a chance to grow and learn. I’d rather be in a niche that forces me to adapt than be in a big place where I remain stagnant. For a while, Bella Naija was that place.
Toyin: Fashion was something that was a part of growing up. I really was one of those girls who just t-shirts and a tank top. But schooling and living in London which is so cosmopolitan and fashion forward kind of draws it out of you. You cannot ignore the fashion.
6. You guys have kind of become our Ryan Seacrest and Guiliana Rancic (you’re way hotter though, Toyin); so it was surprising to find out neither of you had worked the red carpet circuit before. How’d you adapt?
Onos: To be honest, I’m still adapting. At heart I’m just a music fanatic, but all the years of experience I had from Bella Naija and my other projects behind the screen is finally coming to play on the screen with On The Red Carpet. Research, research, research.
7. What niche does On The Red Carpet hold in the entertainment industry and how does it influence red carpet culture in Nigeria?
Onos: For one, we try to make On The Red Carpet more about quality than content. In this age of clickbait, everyone in the business just wants to push more and more content, compromising on quality. We try to find the most exquisite/exclusive shows with the best dressed people to film. Not that we’re snobbish or anything, we just value quality over everything else.
Toyin: We also try to keep the quality not just in content but in how the show is delivered. We do a lot of research on the celebrities who will be on the red carpets before we even shoot a lick of film. That way the questions we ask aren’t simply restricted to what they’re wearing, we give them a small chance to show personality, which is important. In fact, (laughs) we’ve caught quite a number of other shows try to copy our material right there in front of the carpet.
8. People might not realise this, but red carpet shows are a huge vehicle for designers to showcase new collections and reach wider audiences. So, as red carpet hosts, you must get offers to be dressed by designers. Who is the biggest brand you’ve worn?
Toyin: I would say J.Label, though I’m not sure if you can call a diffusion line from a bigger brand big really. But J. Label from Jewel By Lisa is the biggest I’ve worn.
Onos: To be honest, I have no idea what I’m wearing which is why I got someone I can trust to style me for the shows. Big ups to my stylist Ifeanyi Nwune who does amazing work to make me decent.
9. Having seen most of the fashion at the big events this year up close, would you say the Nigerian entertainment industry has stepped up, style wise?
Toyin: It has, by leaps and bounds. I see the female celebrities actually dressed up in really interesting combinations. Of course there is still quite a good deal of misses mostly because some events require ridiculous dress codes but generally it’s much better. Makes my job easier. (laughs).
Onos: I think the word Toyin is looking for is daring. Our celebrities are way more daring now than they were in say 2012. They’re willing to take fashion risks, to gamble on cleavage and interesting silhouettes. It’s that daring that is the real triumph.
10. Who is the biggest celebrity you’ve met so far?
Toyin: Between Jermaine Jackson and TuFace who is bigger? I guess I’d go with TuFace, Jermaine might come from a bigger pond but TuFace is more relevant.
Onos: I think the Mamas was really great for me, I met Trey Songz and French Montana, a Kardashian sister and TuFace. So I’m good really as far as big celebrities go.
11. Weirdest response you’ve gotten from a celebrity?
Toyin: Okay not weird but I was interviewing K.Cee once and he said out of the blue, ‘You Ndani people have come again, I hate Ndani’, and I was like whoa! But apparently something had happened with him on one of the Ndani shows, the Juice. I eventually got the interview (laughs).
Onos: They’re always trying to take my hats. And one time a female celebrity was outright flirting with me, on camera. Sure, that bit ended up on the cutting floor (and maybe my archives) but yeah, that was the weirdest thing that happened to me.
12. Ndani relies heavily on online media to reach its viewer base, how has the reception online been to you as a duo and individually?
Toyin: If I was just blogging, which is where I started, I wouldn’t know half the influential and truly innovative people I’ve met so far. I think apart from the fact that working for On The Red Carpet forces me deviate from what I would call my own style aesthetic, other than that Ndani has been great for my image and career.
Onos: In house, we get Kudos and knocks on the head for our work, but on a wider audience we get good comments and I know we can do better, but Ndani is a stepping stone and platform for greater things. So I see my work at Ndani as a good thing that can get better.
13. Let’s switch things up a bit, So what are your professional and academic backgrounds outside entertainment?
Toyin: First of all I have a personal brand as a style blogger and fashion person, thesohosister.com my website which is rebranding, I studied Law and Anthropology for my first degree, and I’m going to law school in a bit.
Onos: I studied architecture at the University of Ilorin and have done a couple of courses in film making and photography. But I haven’t really practiced.
14. What other creative outlets do you dabble in besides television and online media work?
Toyin: Fashion styling mostly. I’m also a singer/songwriter, actually I’m just dabbling in music as art forms for expression right now.
Onos: I plan to start a consulting firm, image and brand management along those lines, and I also want to break into the film market, directing music videos and proper full length films, and also continue to follow and improve on the music that we have here.
15. Onos O, I heard you made your directorial debut recently on a music video for Bemyoda song, Always. What was the experience like?
Onos: There is actually a funny story behind that. Originally the shoot was supposed to be for a collaboration between the stellar Temi Dollface and Bez. They had been working on a song for a while and as at the time of the shoot they weren’t satisfied with the work they’d done on the song and decided to pull out of the project. So I called Bemyoda who is an in-house person and we was up for it. So we did it.
My first time directing was great thanks to my crew, they picked up a lot of my slack and made the process just a breeze.
16. Is music video directing something you want to take up professionally in the future?
Onos: Yes, Oh God yes. As well as film making. I am a film junkie so I like to translate and interpret music in film format. So directing and maybe of producing is definitely in the cards for me. I’m actually working on a project right now but you’ll find out about that soon enough.
17. Toyin, you have quite the portfolio as a stylist and personal style blogger, with collaborations with The Style HQ and styling credits for the Cut and GiddiMint. Tell us about your styling work?
Toyin: I believe that image is everything and I am a very visual person, I like to create specific images, and I kind of get a bit manic until I am able to translate that image from an idea to properly realised look. I have actually but styling on the backburner a bit. In London, I worked with Fela Adeleke, a British-Nigerian stylist and got to work with her a lot. Her dedication to the craft and her vigour kind of inspired and still inspires my love for styling.
Toyin: Haha. Ignore what I said earlier about ‘jeans and t-shirts’, I’m not really a tomboy. If I had to choose I’d call myself more of Wang girl. I like a bit of understated style with statement pieces. I’m a bit more glamorous on TheSohoSister, but generally my looks on the site give you a general idea of what my style is.
Onos: My style is basically the skater dude who never was. I’ve really committed to the look cos I love how relaxed the idea of a skater dude is. I have given up my beloved Chuck Taylors for Vans and I’m always in shirts and jackets and skate pants and hats, a rebel without a cause. But generally you’ll always find me with a hat, if not anything else.
19. Final question guys, this is a bit cliché but where do you see yourselves in the next decade?
Toyin: Basically, I want to stay relevant, and get better at what I do and somewhere in all of that, find myself.
Onos: In a decade, I should have created my own consulting firm, like a multinational consultancy and brand management firm, and packed a slew of awards for music video and film directing.
Come back tomorrow for a new post in our September Issue!