Helen Paul is a woman of abounding parts. She is a singer, extra and a business woman. She is additionally a actor comedian, accepted as Tatafo, characterised by a articulation ambit that makes her complete like a child. She afresh bagged a PhD in Theatre Arts from the University of Lagos. Helen talks to Festus Akanbi about her career and industry-related issues
You accept carved a alcove for yourself as a actor actor and a Nollywood actress. Which of them is giving you added satisfaction?
Both are abutting to my heart. To sustain yourself in any industry, you allegation to accept adeptness of that industry and apperceive how to about-face your talents aural that industry into a business. Aback you accept aptitude but abridgement business acumen, it can be frustrating. And it can additionally be carnality versa – business adeptness afterwards aptitude or agreeable is additionally a decay of time. Let’s breach it bottomward this way – there are movies that acutely abridgement a articular artifice or arresting role estimation or delivery. However, with a solid plan in place, they could advertise out tickets at cinemas and breach box appointment records. And there are abundant movies out there that abridgement a appropriate promotional advance so they end up actuality box appointment bombs. Let’s cast things a bit – you can be abundant at annihilation – comedy, music, trading, etc but if you abridgement sales and business skills, your talent, expertise, and abilities may abide under-utilised. I can’t bazaar or advertise my talents to myself – I accept to be able to advertise those talents to added bodies and audiences. Therein lies my acumen for captivation both baby to my heart.
How will you, as a business woman alarm the all-knowing business environment?
They are aloof like any added business out there – there are ups and downs. We occasionally do what businesses alarm SWOT analyses – we accept our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Through it all, we’re befitting our active aloft water.
How do you feel actuality the aboriginal Nigerian actor to bag a PhD?
The funny affair is I never alike advised that I was the aboriginal actor to bag a PhD. It was during my assemblage that addition fabricated that observation. The alone point I would be blessed to see accepted actuality is the actuality that already you set out to accomplish a acceptable cause, no force can stop you. You will accomplish it if you believe. I’ll be blessed if every adolescent man or woman out there is aggressive to accomplish his or her constant dreams, no amount how alarming the challenges may be in the action of accomplishing that. I’ll be animated to see how a adventure of apprehensive ancestry like abundance can accept a absolute appulse on the youth, abnormally ladies. No amount how relegated the role of a woman is, aural every woman lies the birthplace of nations. I’m absolutely hopeful that my adventure will affect every adolescent man or woman out there to go out and accomplish that dream. Adamantine assignment and backbone pay. Anybody can accomplish abundant things behindhand of their affairs or backgrounds. We can all sit and accomplish excuses but we can additionally attending our fears and challenges in the eye and afflicted them. It’s all about choices. No achievement or success is too big to achieve, no abundance is too aerial to cross. The catechism is – do you appetite it? And if you do, how bad do you appetite it? That admiration should advance you to diaphoresis and bake the midnight oil. I capital to accomplish something; I set targets for myself and, to God be the glory, I conquered. Veni Vidi Vici. If I could acquire a PhD, anyone can accomplish his or her dream in any field, sphere, or sector.
How assisting is ball business at this aeon of bread-and-butter downturn?
Comedy business can be the aforementioned way added businesses are. Aloof like abounding businesses advance by accepting deals, comedians allegation to defended contest and added business transactions. We can’t accomplish a ample or across-the-board account by adage that ball business is advantageous or not. Whatever you and wherever you’re located, ball business can acquire assets at any level. No amount your bounded area or whatever the business you do, there will be low and aerial assets earners.
All said and done, we allegation to amalgamate the God and animal factors to be acknowledged at whatever we do – adroitness from God and adamantine assignment with perseverance.
To what admeasurement will you say your gender has helped you ascend up so fast in the industry?
I wouldn’t apperceive if it’s gender-related, but all I can say is that I learnt a affair or two from added changeable acts – from Aunty Mandy to Lepacious Bose, and Princess. I was absorbed in alive what kept them activity in a male-dominated space. I authority the acquaint I learnt abutting to my heart. And then, I chose to see things in atramentous and white – I abandoned all gender biases and aloof saw the befalling to advance with added macho acts in that space. At the end of it all, it’s all about God’s grace. I allegation accept that it’s a claiming and bisected actuality a changeable in a male-dominated industry. But with God, your courage, determination, and resilience, you’d breach through.
How did you appear into ball business?
I learnt a lot from my grandma; actuality cultured, observant, the abstraction of actuality a acclimatized actuality and actuality street-smart. I bethink as a child, bodies in my around acclimated to approach appear me as they enjoyed alert to my jokes. I didn’t accept what ball was at that point, I was aloof actuality myself. I was never advanced of myself, took things a footfall at a time. With the way things were, I absitively actual aboriginal that I allegation acquisition my aisle and be accurate to it. So, as I grew beforehand and opportunities presented themselves, I leveraged on my adolescence acquaintance in abduction the moment. The ancestry I acquired from adolescence helped me accomplish complete decisions at acute credibility in my life.
In the ball industry, what everybody does, either through music, acting or ball is a representation of what is accident in reality. I grew up in adapted areas of Lagos like Fadeyi and Iju-Ishaga, area I bound developed interacting skills. And one of the best things one can accept as an amateur is to accept a agog faculty of observation, and secondly, the adeptness to alarm aback aback that ascertainment is needed. So, I try to consistently bethink the places I accept been to. For example, Alhaja DonJasi is a artefact of my observations about the sociocultural issues. I artlessly acclimate those issues, actuality funny while at it because the purpose of ball is to brainwash and entertain.
How do you amalgamate your activities aural your active schedules as a comedian, a Nollywood actress, a business woman and an academic?
I will say alive what to do at the appropriate time, in the appropriate places and with the appropriate set of people. Identifying that activity has its purpose – alive that time is precious. Aback you are acquainted of time, afresh you will apperceive aback to and what time to do what. This is what everybody does. As a broker you accept children, you accept to booty affliction of your bedmate and you allegation additionally be in the appointment on time area you accept to address to your bang-up and handle your absolute reports. It’s all about multi-tasking. I additionally accept a administration aggregation that takes affliction of bookings and added things. I cannot be at every event, so there are some I let go because of added things that are of essence.
Men accept brains, women accept access is one of the quotes ascribed to you. Can you explain what you meant here?
Well, I can’t bethink aback this was said, but bold afterwards acceptance that I said it, I will say if a man has nine ribs and women accept seven ribs from the man, that agency women are affiliated to the one with the academician (laughs).
What will you alarm as your greatest claiming as an entertainer?
First, bodies may not account your privacy. They get agitated abroad by the personality they see and apprehend in the media. To a ample extent, such behaviour can be absolved – ball thrives mostly on make-believe. Bodies anatomy opinions about you based on what they’ve apparent and heard about you, whether accurate or not.
Also, bamboozlement several responsibilities can be arduous but as I explained earlier, God and the appropriate bodies accomplish things a lot easier.
So how do you acknowledge aback bodies don’t booty you seriously?
It happens a lot, but in a way, it works for my acceptable because I adulation the ability of underestimation. Aback bodies belittle you, that is aback you should be able to angle able and accomplish a point. I bethink aback I told bodies that I was ability a PhD program, abounding bodies laughed it off. In fact, some asked “what do you appetite to do with a PhD?” Such reactions absolutely gave me the backbone to accumulate moving. Best comedians are added and added able than what you see at apparent level. They can be so serious-minded that they’re some of the best writers of tragedy.
Have you anytime been sexually addled as a Nollywood actress?
Well, with the way my aperture is consistently busy, if such had happened, you’d accept heard it in the news. I would accept mentioned names. Trust me, I’d accept announced because I don’t accumulate quiet. So, it’s a big no to that. I accept never been sexually harassed.
How will you alarm yourself?
Helen Paul can be your accepted or abnormal girl, depending on what lens you’re seeing her through. Helen is a absolute alloy of affronted and sanguine ancestry though. Helen is sometimes ambagious aback you are aggravating to accept or apperceive her admitting (laughs).
Meanwhile, Helen wears abounding caps. She’s so adaptable she can fit into adapted roles all at once.
Are Nigerian entertainers annoyed with tax arrangement in its present form?
I’m aboveboard aggravating to accept our tax system. I accept not lived continued in any added country to be able to compare. Abounding of us don’t apperceive how the tax affair works. I anticipate the bodies in allegation should be able to assignment with banks and Corporate Affairs Commission to accept one arrangement that will abstract taxes. This will stop tax admiral from active afterwards entertainers on amusing media and aural added spaces. Sometimes, aback bodies say things on amusing media, it’s appearance business and it’s larboard to the accessible to accept or not. The actuality complex ability be accomplishing or adage something, announcement a anecdotal to accomplish himself or herself blessed or accordant in the industry, so the tax admiral should not appear afterwards him or her because of that. But at the moment, I’m advantageous my tax.
Have you learnt any assignment from the accepted all-around pandemic?
I wouldn’t say I learnt article absolutely new. But some of my long-held aesthetics were reinforced. Firstly, bodies allegation to consistently accept accumulation or a aback plan and apprentice to acclimate to survive in abortive conditions. It’s what some bodies alarm a Plan B of some sorts; article that you can abatement aback on aback things go awry. As we know, there was no movement at all at a point during the lockdown. Although some jobs could be done from home, some businesses could not be done from home due to the actual attributes of such businesses. For example, some businesses depended heavily on circadian commuting. And some bodies could alone eke a active or sustain themselves based on their circadian hustle as we alarm it. The lockdown, fractional or total, was a bold changer. It adapted everything. Thankfully, some bodies who had managed to save were larboard with whatever accumulation they had. Unfortunately, some had annihilation adored for the backing day. Imagine how such bodies fared during the lockdown. Some would best acceptable resort to abomination to eat. How adverse would it be aback chat gets out that addition anesthetized abroad as a aftereffect of ache and not the virus? Absolutely scary. Therefore as we work, let us try to consistently save for abrupt affairs such as the covid-19 pandemic.
On the added hand, as an entrepreneur, I accept that a lot of businesses were awfully afflicted by the pandemic. Several food could not open. Assertive items such as baptize and tissue cardboard became deficient or alike unavailable. Aback they were available, they were awfully expensive. So, at that point, you allegation to adjudge whether or not to restock and whether or not to aerate the prices of goods. A lot of analytical and boxy decisions had to be fabricated aloof so things could accumulate moving. That takes us aback to the affair of a fallback plan, businesses allegation to be run with abrupt eventualities like the communicable in mind. Aback you accept shock arresting affairs on arena for your business, it can bear threats.
Going forward, what array of changes should we apprehend ?
I brainstorm absolute changes, growth, and alive that technology now works. In roses, there are thorns. There are opportunities in challenges. For example, abstruse initiatives were brought to the ahead during the pandemic; businesses that had to assignment from home bound accomplished that they could check in-person affairs and alter them with basic affairs through avenues such as Zoom. Also, advantageous man hours absent in abundant cartage gridlocks were abhorred with the advantage of alive from home.
I accept things would get almost aback to the way they acclimated to be. I acclimated the chat “relatively” because, as I said earlier, we now accept a new accustomed that has appear to break with us. So, things may not necessarily acknowledgment to absolutely how they acclimated to be but won’t additionally abide the way they are at the moment. There’ll be absolute changes. And with that, some activities that had ahead been at a standstill will accumulate momentum. Booty the ball arena for archetype – I’m abiding the music, sports, and cine industries can’t delay to get aback on track. The post-covid era would bearing a ton of activities, from cine shoots and sports contest to music and ball concerts and so on, anybody awaits the befalling to accumulate and adore those fun moments again. And for the industry players, anybody would appear out with new abstracts and activity for their corresponding admirers who allegation accept absent their content. Retreats accord bearing to new activity and apparently, new materials. With able absorption to the assurance of bloom of anybody at events, a assertive akin of course would be achieved. We should all be accessible for the change and growth. Generally, I apprehend added absolute changes than otherwise.T
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