Monday, 3 November 2014

I have learnt never to take ‘no’ for an answer –Bolanle Olukanni, Co-host, Project Fame West Africa

To Bolanle Olukanni, life is not about acquiring things. What matters to her is build
ing relationships and doing the impossible through hard work and con­sistency.
Olukanni was raised in Nige­ria, Israel, Kenya and America. She graduated from Loyola University, Chicago,Illinois in the United States of America and holds a Bachelor of Arts honours degree in Communi­cations Studies and Bachelor of Arts (B.A) in International Studies.



After graduating, she moved back to Nigeria for the manda­tory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme, during which she spent her service year working for a non-profit organization in Ekiti State . Upon completing her NYSC programme , Bolanle entered for the ‘Search for Mo’s Co-host’ competition. She was chosen out of hundreds of other hopefuls to co-host Moments with Mo alongside talk show host and CEO of EbonyLife TV, Mo Abudu. Recently, she joined the reality music show, MTN Project Fame West Africa as a co-host alongside Joseph Benjamin. Bolanle told Sunday Sun that the gains of this new phase in her career are more than the pains. Excerpts:

How do you feel co-hosting Project Fame Season 7?
I am so excited about being the new co-host for Project Fame. Project Fame is an amazing show that has produced exceptional talents. Being part of the show allows me to appreciate the music industry in Nige­ria. It’s wonderful watching all the contestants grow and develop their talents. I really enjoy it. The energy that comes from the audience is amazing. I enjoy watching the contestants perform and it’s great when the audience responds so well to them especially after all of their hard work.

Would you say your background and ex­perience prepared you for this position?
I have a dual degree in Communications and Inter­national Studies. I have always been involved with the arts in one way or the other.

What was your reaction when you were contacted for the job?
I was excited! It is an opportunity to learn and make progress.

How would you describe your personality?
I would describe myself as very down to earth. I’m outgoing and I enjoy meeting people. I love learning through the experience of others and I am a firm believer in hard work and determination. I am a huge critic of my work and push myself to do better because I know I can.

What are the pains and gains of this new phase of your career?
I think with every new venture there are going to be pains, but overall I would say there have been more gains.

Who are your mentors?
I am a huge fan of Leymah Gbowee. She is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and an inspiration as a single mother and a domestic vio­lence survivor who mobilized women in Liberia to fight for peace during the civil war. Women in so many societies are the backbone. We are often seen as non partisan in politics but it’s not true in all cases. We might not hold as many political offices as men, but we are powerful when it comes to mobilizing for change and grass­roots movements.

Do you see yourself as a role model to young women?
I am aware there are young women who watch me on TV and might be influenced by what I say or do or wear, so because of that, I try to ensure that I am true to myself and my values. I think there are so many negative influences in the media, but at the same time there are positive influences in the entertainment industry. I hope to be a media personal­ity who inspires my viewers.

What lessons have you learnt from your career?
I am young in the entertainment industry and I have learnt to never take no for an answer especially when I have a vision. I have also learnt to be willing to take risks even when it means I might fail. Failure is never failure if you learn something from it.

Have you always wanted to be a presenter?
I didn’t always want to be a presenter. I initially wanted to work in the development sector in Nigeria. During my NYSC programme , I got a job working at a non-government organization and I really enjoyed my time there, but I began to grow restless. I had been working for not-for-profit organizations throughout my time in the university and I felt that it was time I put my other degree, Communication Studies to use. That is when I decided to audition for presenting jobs.

What rules do you live by?
Life is not about acquiring things but about building relation­ships and friendships. I am a firm believer in the impossible hap­pening with hard work and consistency.

Share your background with us.
I grew up in four different countries. Nigeria, Israel, Kenya and America and I attended Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois. I am the last born of my family and I am from Osun State. My parents are really supportive of my career and have continued to encourage me to pursue my dreams.

What plans do you have for the future?
Well, I am really enjoying my current roles as Moments with Mo co-host and Project Fame co-host and honing my talent. Hope­fully, I will continue to get the opportunity to develop my skills and talents as I continue in this industry.