I recently read Omowunmi Akinnifesi’s blogpost; ‘The Blessing and The Curse of The Beauty Queen’ and I could instantly relate. She talked about the pressure to keep up appearances and live a certain way, simply because one had become a pageant winner. The point where she said; “It hurts when people talk about beauty queens saying; ‘She disappeared! Where is she now? What is she doing?’” hit home the most.
I was on Big Brother Nigeria almost 6 years ago and it was a lot of fun, becoming a known face along with 13 other young and not so young (I didn’t mention Joseph and Frank’s names) Nigerians. It was an eye opening experience as it happened at a time when reality shows were still pretty much a novel idea in these parts. Housemates as expected, became almost instant celebrities and of course, the pressure followed.
I decided to stay a little more in the public eye after the show, working on television and writing for newspapers and magazines, while anchoring events amongst others. But last year, I made a conscious decision to go back to school and get a masters degree in law. I turned down an opportunity to be on ‘BBA All Stars’ while at it and I have come back to Nigeria since then to become a jack of every possible trade.
One question that was constantly thrown at me in the years after the show was; “Where are the other housemates? They’ve gone so quiet.” Now, there’s nothing wrong with asking that question at all. Except that it always came with a tone that made it seem like they had become unsuccessful simply for staying quiet. There is a general belief that once one decides to go on television (and become popular), staying in show business becomes compulsory. There is also the belief that being in show business means being constantly visible. Staying behind the scenes is not an option.
But people also tend to forget that things are never that straight cut. Firstly, as much as we think the showbiz industry is doing great here, there is really not enough room to soak up everyone. Even in more advanced entertainment industries, the success rate of reality stars that stay in entertainment is way below 10%. It is only natural that not everyone will make the cut. Secondly, a lot of people actually decide to move on with their lives, either because they find fame uncomfortable having tasted it; or because they went on the show for a totally different reason other than becoming celebrities (I for example, went in for the money and nothing more). It is actually possible to want to lead a normal life when all is done.
The youngest housemate on BBN then, Ichemeta went back to the University of Jos when the show ended, got her law degree, graduated from law school over a year ago and now works at the National Assembly in Abuja. Maureen works with the prestige arm of a commercial bank in Nigeria. Helen wrapped up her schooling and then opened up a catering outfit as cooking was always her passion; and I promise you her cakes are some of the best I know (don’t read any puns into this) amongst other things.
Katung the winner went on to film school in New York and got a directorial degree. He’s back in Nigeria and worked as the Director of Photography for ‘Unwanted Guest’; a beautiful movie internationally produced, that premiered in Lagos late September. That, besides the fact that he shoots music videos…
Sandra runs an interior decoration business in Abuja. Joseph became big on health advocacy over the years after returning to his job with an international airline, and recently went back to school in America to get a postgraduate degree in ‘Public Health’. Ify and Joan both run their own separate businesses in the beauty, cosmetic and clothing market. Yinka has hosted the morning show on Rhythm FM Benin-City for a while now. Chinedu is a club promoter, artiste promoter, events promoter, and whatever else you can add before the word ‘promoter’. His potbelly can attest to that.
So, while we deservedly celebrate Gideon who has won hearts with his great acting on ‘Tinsel’, and Francisca who is about to make an interesting comeback to show business; and Frank who travels the world (and I mean that almost literally) while being a judge on a dance show on national TV, it is important to note that not everyone can be called unsuccessful simply because they are no longer on your TVs, whether by choice or circumstance. Being on a reality show for some, was an adventure. For others, it was a quest for money. It isn’t always about staying in the limelight. Yes, some may have tried a bit of acting and TV presenting here and there, right after. But if it didn’t continue, then it wasn’t because they necessarily sucked at it. It simply wasn’t the path they were meant to follow, while some others may have actually just decided to move on. It doesn’t also mean that sometime in the future, they cannot decide to go back into showbiz. Their time, their terms…
Anyway, while we are at it, please where is Bayo Okoh? 😉