I met up with Denola, a fashion enthusiast and multi-media personality, for some whiskey and a chat. He is a Baylor University alumni with a degree in Media and Business. He also took several communications classes, which unknown to him at the time would prove useful later on in his career.
It seemed like Denola had been prepping for a media role for a while. He shed light on the almost random sequence of events that have led up till now.
"I actually had no idea what I was doing, I just wanted a major that would let me graduate fast. I took all my "prereqs" in the first 2 years, then my latter 2 years became overwhelming because I was stuck with core courses. I remember my course mates thinking I was depressed because I showed up in basketball shorts after an all nighter!"
Denola's wardrobe prowess has definitely opened several doors as he recaps 2019 as being one of his nicest years.
"I was never really an Abercrombie & Fitch addict until they contacted me for a social media campaign last year. D&G contacted me as well wanting to do a thing for one of their fragrances. Last year was nice."
I recalled seeing the campaign that he and Deolu worked on for D&G and they were amazing shots!
"I saw some of Deolu's work and I knew he had to take the photographs. I believe in paying talent although I couldn't afford to pay him much, but he was really grateful and its done great for both our careers".
We all need to be intentional when it comes to our culture and supporting our young talents and local brands and I couldn't agree more.
As an amateur photographer I have always appreciated his photos and he explains "I have always preferred telling a story visually. Sometimes the mental capacity of creating a whole world based on just words can be tasking, i prefer to live in colour."
Denola corrected that common misconception that he is a model. He states "I'm only 5'10 so I can't model. My pictures just look editorial because I'm extra AF. I am more of a men's style, lifestyle and a sartorial enthusiast, but I just call myself a content creator because it encompasses everything."
Looking back at the few times he had tried modelling and he recalls the experiences being mortifying. "Watching footage of yourself after a runway walk, I started wondering why my limbs moved weirdly, it was horrible! I would love to do a campaign with Balmain", he says as we both pray to the universe.
Much like many other entrepreneurs, our main motivation is to make a decent living. Denola is no different and remarked:
"the crippling fear of failure forces me into mobility. I don't want to be broke, its just not Chanel! Once you know you like really nice things, you realise that you have to work harder and smarter. Right now I can't currently afford the life I want in my head".
Denola regards his journey into media as being largely unplanned. A healthy mixture of hard work, networking and a dash of luck.
Back to Nigeria for his youth service, and after multiple uncomfortable questions about what he does for work, he decided to start up a website to show off his trendy fashion sense. This website ended up being featured on BellaNaija and he soon found himself writing for them. He then went on to guest host for EbonyLifeTV and then got offered a role in Nigeria’s first legal drama series, Castle and Castle, currently available on Netflix.
Denola made sure he used all the opportunities given to him to the best of his ability, making sure the quality of his content was never compromised, down to the last photograph - something he has termed The Beyoncé Paradigm.
In terms of difficulties, getting out of ones comfort zone to start new projects is one of the many things he has learnt to do, as well as dealing with negative attention which he just does not acknowledge.
At the moment, Denola is using the stay-at-home period for self development and making his social media presence more authentic, but he hints at a few exciting things in the pipeline. He encourages everyone to see the silver lining of being isolated and use it for some introspection.
"Before the pandemic hit, things were moving too quickly and everyone was so overwhelmed to the point that they became whelmed. Now is the time to look inward and discover what really makes us happy and prioritise them. I want to travel and embrace life!"
A mindset that he assures would lead to better relationships, more fulfilling careers and more meaningful lives.
"I am not always zen sha, sometimes I put on some Billy Eilish, light a candle and have myself a decent cry!"
Denola emphasises setting yourself apart in all your endeavours is key and advices learning from people in your chosen field while giving yourself a unique selling point.
"If there is something you want to do, you have to learn from people doing it and figure out how to make yourself better."
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