By Ebun Babalola
Denrele Edun is a self-styled entertainer. He started his career at a very tender age as a actor in the then popular kiddies programme, â€œKidivision 101.â€ He later veered into modeling before finally picking up a job as a presenter at the Sound City Entertainment. HVP encountered him in his office, where he shares his story….
Your background Aderenle Olufemi Adeyemi Edun is my name. In India, Iâ€™m called â€œRajeev Rajaâ€. But my native name is Akanbi. Born 26 years ago to Mr and Mrs Edun, Iâ€™m of mixed parentage. My father hail from Abeokuta, while my mum is partly Indian, and partly Mauritian. Actually, I was born in Germany. But I canâ€™t say exactly where I come from. The fact that my father is a Yoruba man, gives me the privilege to trace my root to the Yoruba race.
I am the only son in a family of three. I have two younger sisters. For about eight years now, I havenâ€™t set my eyes on my mum.
Iâ€™m a hustler. Iâ€™ve done the rounds of entertainment, starting with acting inÂ Kidivision 101 when I was eleven . I won so many awards for St. Gregory College, Lagos. I finished my secondary school at the age of 15, after which I picked up a teaching jobÂ before securing admission to study at University of Lagos. This development howeverÂ prompted my decision to stop featuring in Kidivision 101.
It seems you haveÂ had all that you needed so easily in life…
Not exactly.Â Many people would have attributed my success to the fact that I had aÂ very goodÂ upbringing. Though, I wasnâ€™t born with a silver spoon, life was a little bit pleasurable at the out set when we were residing in Germany until my father lost his job and left the whole family at the mercy of my helpless mother who was a full time house wife.
At that time, my mother had to forget her background, being a German woman, came to Nigeria and started hustling for us.
She took up four odd jobs at a time, just to keep the family alive. It would surprise you to know that I was seven years oldÂ when my dad lost his job. At that time, things were very hard for us. And from a duplex, we moved into a conducive one-room apartment and it was at that time that my mum gave birth to my younger sister. Unfortunately she died at birth but my mum later had another baby girl.
Looking at my mother, and all that she was going through, I decided to struggle for myself and make a meaning out of my own miserable life. At the same time, I was watching my mum with all her patience and sincerity. She was struggling for the family and at the same time, she stayed by my dad throughout those years of joblessness.
She took up a teaching job and also embarked onÂ private coaching lessons, the proceeds ofÂ which she was using for the upkeep of her family.
All those qualities were what built me and gave me confidence to be self-dependent to the extentÂ thatÂ I had to do some jobs, especially Kidivision 101.Â I was getting stipendsÂ from it and was using it to cater for myself while I was in secondary school.
The same way, I paidÂ my fees throughout my years in the University.
My belief resolved around the fact thatÂ there was no need for me to disturb my parents since there were two other younger sistersÂ they were catering for. So, it wasnâ€™t really easy but the fact remains that I had to do some things just to fend for myself. By the time, I started modeling, (the essence), the acceptance was terrible.
Life have been negative all the way. There were times when I wasÂ walked out of the classroom. I was being buggedÂ here and there. Even at the bus-stops, students used to call me different kinds of names and because I didnâ€™t haveÂ a car, I used to be the centre of abusesÂ at the bus-stops.
It was always another problem wheneverÂ I entered aÂ bus. Passengers would vacate the bus just because of my presence. I was always fighting with conductorsÂ everyday.
On the family side, my parents were comfortable with me. They knew that I was focused. My grandma thought I was running mad.
cousins thought I was useless, that I didnâ€™t know what I was doing with my life. They believed I wasnâ€™t focused. It might mean anything to you or anyone who cares to know but the truth is that, it was really difficult to make any meaning out of what I was doing then. I had a lot of challenges.
Letâ€™s share some of those challenges
When I started modeling, the first person that discovered me was Kesse Jabari. He saw me at the MBI office, where I was to do a programme (Just Gisting) with Mike Okoli. KesseÂ Jabari told me, that I would be a good model for him, that Iâ€™m good looking with my skinny body and at that time, I was very young.
And when I was called to see him in his office, the models (tall, huge and big) I saw discouraged me butÂ fortunately, I became the major face of his brand despite the fact that I was the youngest, skinniest and the shortest. But those challenges made me strong. I saw them as an experience and adventure.
I always see myself as the youngest amongst otherÂ models andÂ Iâ€™m always picked at the end of the day. People started seeing me as a threat at every audition simple because I caved out an identity for myself.
And one of the major challenges I faced was gaining recognition from aÂ negative society. People hissed at me anywhere they found me then especially in my school. It was a terrible condition.
Was it the same style of dressing now?
It was worse. But, now those abuses have turned out positively for me because Iâ€™m now the same person that everybody wants to be associated with.
You mentioned some problems you encountered with your close friends in school…
The only person that understood me was my best friend, Linda Ikeji. We were so closeÂ that people started calling us names, â€œthe unserious twoâ€.Other friends were just there because they had no choiceÂ than to talk with me. But, some of them were genuine and some were friends because they were curious to know what I was trying to portray through my style.
So, I would say that, I didnâ€™t really have a best friend. The only friends I had were in my group: Thearte 15, which was the group I joined. Richard Mofe Damijo, RMD, Kunle Bamtefa, Francis Agu, Felix Okoro, Kayode Peters and Bunmi Davies were part of the group and those were the people who were directing plays that we did then.
It was a Theatre group where everybody was experiencing his individuality. And for me, my clothes wereÂ reflections on my personality and I was accepted into that clique. And that was when we were doing rehearsals and stage plays.Â I became some lecturers delightÂ but there were many that could not understand what I was doing.
They thought I was a drug addict, whereasÂ I donâ€™tÂ smoke or drink. So, they were always delaying my result. There was a particular lecturerÂ that made my stay in school very frustrating.
There were times where she had to send me away from the class despite my punctualityÂ just because of the way I was dressed.
Some of the lecturers understood my personality but some did not.Â But, I never bordered since I knew where I was going .
So, I said to myself, â€œyou can turn this negativity into positivity. As long as people are talking about you, it shows that they acknowledge your existenceâ€.
Maybe, peopleâ€™sÂ expectationsÂ wereÂ that youÂ put up aÂ lookÂ portraying you asÂ a serious student of a reputable University?
That means Iâ€™m living a pretentious hypocritical life. Like I said, I was very conservative in my dressing during myÂ first yearÂ through the second year . And that was when I left Kidivision 101, and I was teaching. So, I was still swamped up in that school lifestyle. But, at a point, the story changed.
I donâ€™t know where the craze came from. I was just seeing craze from another perspective and was just carving out an identity for myself.
What really gave you that impressionÂ that you would survive through such a style? Were you trying to borrow a leaf from Charley Boy?
I never knew who Charley Boy was when I started. But, the funny thing was that, I used to dance for his wife, Lady D, with someÂ artists, including Rugged Man, 2shot, Lezzy Do, the Iroko band when I was still in school. Although, people thought I was a photocopy of Charley Boy, I never had a â€œtatooâ€ which Charley Boy is known for.
But for me, it was all about the clothes and the attitude. And itâ€™s all about building a brand. But, at the point, when I started, it was just like being different from the next person. I believe, itâ€™s good for me to do things differently and that is what Iâ€™m known for now.
Does your personality have anything to do with your relationship?
I treat my female fans good. Right now, Iâ€™m single, Iâ€™m not married, Iâ€™m not searching but Iâ€™m ready to mingle. I can count so many relationships that, Iâ€™d had which did not work out well. A lot of people look at me as a wayward person, but Iâ€™m not.
I donâ€™t drink or smoke and when it comes to relationships, Iâ€™m very particular. If Iâ€™m dating someone, Iâ€™m a one-way traffic person.
Forget the fact that I have millions of girls that call me every single day, I can say that I know all the girls in this Lagos. But, knowing them doesÂ not mean that I haveÂ sentimental relationships with them. But now, Iâ€™m not dating anybody. Iâ€™m trying to focus on my career .
Iâ€™m a very scattered person, so, I donâ€™t thinkÂ it is good for me to bring a woman on board now since Iâ€™m not ready for commitment and dedication. But I know that I will settle down when Godâ€™s time comes. I had relationshipsÂ in the past but things were just not right and I wouldnâ€™t want to make similar mistakes.
Maybe, the way you dress?
Donâ€™t use that to judge.
Maybe, they thought, you were the unserious type?
Itâ€™s when you get to know the person that you would know that underneath the dramatic shows, there are some things that were unknown to you. Why did you think my parents gave me chance to express myself? You know, it wasnâ€™t very easy for a bonafide Yoruba man to encourage such craziness but my father did, just because he knewÂ who I am.
I wasnâ€™t the regular child who would smoke, drink or sneak girls into the house. But, he knew every child must have his or her character, so I got the support that I needed.
But, the lady I dated was trying to change me. Although, she liked the whole crazy thing , she was trying to dictate things for me.
I feltÂ I canâ€™t walk with her. But, there was a particular lady, quiet and gentle that I met and I really liked her but she was scared that I was going to get bored with her because Iâ€™m an active person.
I tried to make her reason but I felt I was forcing myself on her, so I let her go. But I know that when the right one comes, there wouldnâ€™t be any cause for alarm.
The truth remains thatÂ Iâ€™m one of the nicest persons. I can cut off my arm for the one I love. So, when you discover the real person, you would know thatÂ this is just strictly showbiz.
It is said that all sorts of women want to have a taste of you.
There are too many women for me to handle. At times, I receive more than 100 calls from girls in a day as well as several text messages. Right now Iâ€™m not in any relationship and Iâ€™m enjoying the attention. There are too many girls running after me and even men have started running after me.
When they put you in a tight corner what do you do?
Well, it depends on the person in question. If she is worth it, we will unzip everything.
Do women offer you sex or you ask for it?
I donâ€™t need to ask. It happens in a magical way for me. But the ones that ask, I usually run away from.
What kind of a woman would you prefer?
I prefer my women slim, with long legs.
How would you react to celebritiesâ€™ break-up?
Relationship is all about understanding, tolerance and cordial communication. People rush into relationships and then to marriage just because they feel they are in love.
It is after they have married thatÂ they begin to see each otherâ€™s difference and that fact that, they canâ€™t handle the problem any more. I believe, it is thing of the mind, itâ€™s an individual thing. Marriage is not a contract but a holy matrimony.
ButÂ the only lessonÂ one could deduce from the whole thing is being a stronger person when getting out of such aÂ relationship because by the timeÂ you come out of such a relationship, you can crumble and that is the end.
Earlier, you made mention of your mother being out of the country . What happened?
My mother (Anita Edun) is fine. She is in Dublin right now. And I think Iâ€™m one of the few people in the family who understands whyÂ my mum is not around now.
She has worked so hard and that was why I couldnâ€™t oppose her decision to take a rest. And, then, Nigeria was beginning to tell on her. None of us is as gorgeous as my mum. But, she was getting so stressed and I feltÂ the best thing she needed was to go for a vacation. But, we are planning to pay a visit soon.
We talk everyday on phone.
So, what happens to your dad?
We are taking good care of my dad.
Are your parents of age?
My dad is in his 60s while mum is in her 40s.Â My dad married a German ladyÂ first but she died.Â It took him a while before he could get out of that problem. ButÂ later, he married my mother. Unfortunately, Iâ€™m the first child to my both parents because the first marriage could not produce any child.
Your punk hairstyle, costumes and allÂ are extensions of your personality…
My hair is natural andÂ my clothes are fun. Itâ€™s for people to admire my creativity. I do my clothes myself. Actually, I make my hair and my clothes myself. I have a sewing machine in my house. I came about this style out of my fashion craziness.
I started modeling and in the course of that, I asked myself, so people can wear clothes on the runway like this? Actually, I wanted to distinguish myself from other models. Today, people want to emulate me. But they canâ€™t be like me because I am the original. I have modeled for all the famous designers in this country and I have exhibited my talents outside the country.
So, how long does it take you to dress up?
If Iâ€™m in a hurry, it would take me like 20 minutes and that is if Iâ€™d made up my mind. My room is always scattered. And most times, I dress up in my car since I know the kind of event Iâ€™m going for.
Your choice of buttons, zips and pins, shoe laces are amazing.
I picked up that style just because I wanted to be myself and I love them so much. At times, I buy clothes at the market and turn it to my style.
Who are your role models?
I follow my philosophy. But there are people I admire in this country, although, I wouldnâ€™t tailor my philosophy alongside theirs.Â There are people like Funmi Iyanda, but, if there is any other person that I would like to steal his job, itÂ is Ryan Seacrest.