Denrele Edun is Nigeria’s vivacious and eccentric television personality. Born in Hamburg, Germany, to a Yoruba father and an Indian-Maurituius mother, he is the only son of his parents. An English-education graduate of the University of Lagos, Denrele began his television career as an actor at 11 as a presenter/producer on Kiddievision 101 on NTA network. In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES, the 34-year-old star who often refers to himself as a fashion victim, revealed another side of his controversial personality.
PT: It’s been four years since your best friend, the late pop singer, Goldie, passed on? Do you still miss her?
Denrele: Of course I do. I have not answered this question in a long time, my goodness. It was after her burial and candle light service that I started to cry. I really broke down because the media was really on my case. There were rumours going round that I had a hand in her death. People said that I was giving her drugs, cocaine and that I was her supplier. There were also made up stories of how her family was going to arrest me. So, I could not mourn my friend the way I wanted to. Every day I would want to, my phones would ring. My friends in the industry wanted to know the full gist. Nobody was really sympathetic except for a few people because me I can tell genuine from fake. After the candle light service, I went back to my family house and about five armed robbers came to rob us screaming we should hand over the gold. They beat the daylight out of me and terrorised my grandmother and my dad.
PT: What gold were they referring to?
Denrele: They must have thought since I am Goldie’s friend, she must have left all her gold for me. You know her name is synonymous to Gold; they must have felt she had a lot of gold to have been called Goldie. At that point, it was too much to bear. I couldn’t mourn her in peace. So, I travelled to Brazil. It was there I mourned her. I had dreams. I dreamt where she was screaming that I know who killed her. I still miss her. Any day that I get a good contract, like when Oscar award winning director came to interview me, I remember her. I told him that I would have pitched for him to interview Goldie. Even when I was recently interviewed on CNN story, I spoke about Goldie; I knew we would have achieved all these together. I am glad I was close to her. I go to her grave every February 14 each year.
PT: There is a rumour that you are relocating to South Africa soon. Is this true?
Denrele: I wish that rumour were very true because once in a while, you would want to take a very good break. Take a break to just get out of the insanity, chaotic madness of Lagos and Nigeria and go to somewhere that is more subdued and well structured. But once you are Nigerian and you can survive in Lagos, you can survive anywhere else in the world. I am not going anywhere, but I have been travelling back and forth, not only for Lip Sync Battle Africa recordings but also for some other projects I am involved in South Africa. I also have something that is coming up for Fox Television. I have to go around so I can sell my market now.
PT: Is there anything that will ever make you leave Nigeria for any other country permanently?
Denrele: I just had this conversation with someone this week. A lot of our friends who have left Nigeria to other countries for greener pasture keep telling me to relocate. Some say I am supposed to be based in New York because I would have excelled. If I had started out in America in 1995, I will be royalty. I would be a freaking zillionaire, but reality check, sound check, I am in Lagos Nigeria and I have worked my butt off building a brand for myself. So I will not let it just go like that. I will go to places where I am invited and acknowledged. But if it is to go there to pitch a tent and start from scratch, I will say the No. But it has crossed my mind once or twice because I have gotten to the level of ground zero in my life. At some point I got tired of fighting to get my dreams going. In United States, is like everything you want is at your beck and call. I mean just walking down the streets of New York, I got invited to the Mercedes Benz Fashion week.
PT: Your fashion style is very eccentric and daring. How do you come up with your outfits?
Denrele: Yes everything na dash. What I mean is that I did not buy everything I am wearing presently from head to toe. My wristwatch is from Bukky Wright; jacket is from payporte; shirt is from my sister; my hair was done by my stylist, I didn’t even pay him; the jeans is from Zara from lip sync battle Africa; my shoe from payporte, so I am like a walking free bee. What I wear is an expression of my personality and an extension of my individualism. With what I wear you will always see an element of spunkiness and vivaciousness. My fashion is life on its own. It is always on a natural highness like myself because I don’t drink and I don’t smoke.
PT: Can you change your personality for anything in the world?
Denrele: It depends. Perhaps, if I’m paid a whooping amount but (that is) if my identity was just to arrest attention or make tabloid headlines. If my personality is to make people think that I am different from the guy next door, I would have gotten tired of it. It is a brand that I have built and I have evolved it over time. I am a risk taker. I will forever sacrifice comfort for fashion. When I am on a six inches heel, the pain goes to my brain and keeps me alert. I tell people, if you are classy, I am trash; if you are a fashion guru, I am a fashion victim; if you are a hit, I am a miss; if you are a fashion yes, I am a fashion No and don’t. I don’t take myself seriously. Some people think I dress (cross-dressing) like this to attract attention, but I have always had attention from my childhood.
PT: Do you have a girlfriend?
Derenle: For now, No. I am very single. The girls did not let me be, so now I am trying to put myself in right perspective.
PT: When was the last time you kissed a girl?
Derenle: A few weeks ago. Her name is Ada Slim.
It was a correct kiss. And no we never dated. I went to her birthday and I didn’t bring her a gift. So it was a birthday kiss. Someone took our photograph and the kiss went viral. I even posted it on my Instagram page. I love kissing; kissing is sweet.
PT: Do you dream of having children?
Derenle: I cannot wait to have children. I am obsessed with children. I think two children will be fine. A boy and a girl and I am done. My celebrity friends always come and dump their children in my house. I understand children more than many people out there. I know I act like them because there is a little kid in all of us and may be because I used to be a teacher. I took up a teaching job after I left secondary school and I read English Education at the University of Lagos. So I understand the behavioural pattern of kids. And children love that I can understand and listen to them
PT: Would you like your children to act and be like you?
Derenle: This is my expression of my individualism. If my father who is a Yoruba man did not try to change me and fought all the oppositions both family members and extended family members, the church and outside world, I will allow my children to express themselves.
PT: Since you are not with any woman right now, why not try baby daddy?
Derenle: If I became a baby daddy, I will take the child from the woman. I love children too much. I will be a perfect father figure. Marriage will come when it will come. Love is important to me and I must really be in love to marry. I am not in love with anyone. I am way past that. I love easily and I like easily.
PT: Some people still think you are gay.
Derenle: People will always say what they want to say especially when they look at my appearance. I dress feminine at times, but I know who I am.
PT: You are always in a hyper mood. Do you sometimes have sober moments?
Derenle: I have quiet moments but the thing is that I cannot experience that moment of solitude for long. I call it my moment of tranquillity but it does not last. My house is like a hotel. My house is always besieged with a lot of people. There is never a day that we sleep alone. There are always visitors. There are sleepovers; people come and gist while others come to complain.
PT: Do you do some house chores like cleaning?
Derenle: I have an errand boy but I love to do things myself so I can have a mental picture of where I keep my things. I don’t like looking for things. My wardrobe is always neat because I tidy it almost every time. I may look disorganised but there is logic behind my chaos.