Tolani Shobajo, popularly known as Tolani Baj, is an entrepreneur, A&R representative, media personality, content creator and a former housemate in the ongoing Big Brother season five, the lockdown edition. In this interview by FAITH ADEOYE, she talks about her life after the show and her career among other issues.
How has life been after the house? How have you been coping with the fame?
Life after the big brother house has been overwhelming, I came out a different person, as a public figure and now I feel like I have a lot of responsibilities. I have to compose myself because people look up to me. Though I have a small fan base ‘TForce’ who are loyal, I don’t even care how small they are as far as I have people behind me and people that believe in my ministry, that is fine with me. There are a couple of trolls here and there but the positives outweigh the negatives. I am currently in the middle of responding to my emails, missed calls, messages, family, interviews and a lot of other things right now, but I think in a couple of weeks I would have found my balance because that is my new life now.
What made you audition for the Big Brother Naija ‘Lockdown’ edition?
I had been trying to go into the Big Brother house before now. I came to Nigeria in December 2016 and my friend advised me to audition for the show, but I was living in America and I couldn’t audition because they wanted people based in Nigeria. I finally moved back to Nigeria in December 2018 with the intent of getting into the show, then I auditioned in 2019. I didn’t get in and I decided to try again this year.
Some people termed you ‘boring’ at first in the big brother house, why did it take you long to come out of your shell?
I am a person that likes to observe and I didn’t expect a lot of people will love my entrance into the house on the first day. So, I can understand why people expected a lot from me but I couldn’t put myself into any pressure. I took my time to know who I can vibe with and who I will like to call my friends rather than just letting people into my personal space. I felt if I just went into the house with my guards down, I would have been somebody that people could easily disrespect. I was trying to represent my brand and I wanted people to know that this is Tolani Baj and you have to give her respect. When she enters a room, her presence is felt. I started loosening up in the house a bit after Ebuka shook me and asked me a question that woke me up. I realised that rather than just wasting time, I can start opening up little by little and be strategic with who I call my friends. I am really happy because the people I called my friends in the house did not say anything negative about me and that’s because I was selective when choosing my friends.
What is the one thing you regret doing in the house? Something you wish you could change.
Nothing really, I think I did everything right, although, people expected much but I still don’t have any regrets. I just feel like if I have given them what they wanted, maybe my cards wouldn’t have played out right because you can’t really satisfy people. I just went in there and I was myself.
What got you attracted to Prince and what is the situation with him now?
Next question please (laughs)
How did A&R start for you?
A&R started when I was in America. I have always loved Nigerian music and I always tried to support upcoming acts. When I visit SoundCloud; this is where I go to when I need music, if I find any underground artist that has good songs with fewer views, I reach out to the artiste and consult them via Instagram and email. I give them tips on what to do to push themselves up. This was before I knew what A&R was; it was all for free because I enjoyed it so much and developed a passion for it. I started visiting Nigeria and getting acquainted with people in the industry. I just thought to myself that, how will I be surrounded by these people and not provide value and then I decided I don’t just want to be Tolani Baj who is friends will all the celebrities. I need to provide value. I went back to America to strategise and found out what A&R was, I just started from there. I reached out to tooxclusive.com and other platforms; I started creating playlist from them and also my YouTube channel where I talk about music. A&R is something I will be doing for a very long time.
How would you describe your childhood?
I grew up in the United States of America. I came back to Nigeria to learn the culture, the language and also learn how to be street-smart. I went to Caleb International College in Magodo, graduated in 2009 and moved back to America for college. My childhood was great, though there were ups and downs just like every other family.
What motivates you?
Progress keeps me going. I just look back and say well, I am not where I was yesterday, keep going. I don’t really know where I am going; I just know I will get somewhere. I have always been a risk-taker and there is something about progress that I love so much, been able to use the power of the mind. I know how to manifest things by just thinking about them. It might take time, but it will happen.
What should your fans be looking forward to? What are your plans now that you are out of the house?
I am starting a collection line and I have a business that revolves around music and entertainment where I do music promotion, marketing and distribution. I am also going into real estate as well and I have gotten advice to start hosting and acting. Opportunities are open and I don’t want to cage myself because Tolani Baj is going to do everything.
Share your most memorable day with us.
The day I would never forget is when I was 100% sure I am going into the Big Brother house, it was a dream come true. Immediately I walked on the stage, it hits me like Tolani, you really wanted this and you got it. This will always be my most memorable experience.
Who is Tolani Baj? Tell us something we don’t know about you.
Tolani Baj is an entrepreneur, A&R, media personality and a person of vibes. Someone who is all about positivity. She is always down to have a good time; she is a woman of power and influence.
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