By Christian Agadibe
OLOWU Bardia aka Illrymz relishes nurturing raw talents and being part of their history makes him glad and fulfilled as a TV host and radio personality. The handsome presenter revealed how one of his female fans stormed his house without invitation and made him jump his fence to avoid breaking her heart. In this interview, the Nigeria Idol anchor reflects on his journey to stardom and career.
Tell us about your background?
I’m Olowu Bardia aka Illrymz.My dad is Nigerian and my mum is Persian. I studied Mass Communication at the University of Lagos. I’m a writer, model and TV presenter/producer. I currently run a production company, Contagious Collection and we are all about setting the pace in digital content today.
What are you up to lately?
I’m working on a whole bunch of very interesting stuff including a teen channel. Also, we are working on four new radio shows and it’s going to be really crazy, as well as a few new TV shows which I can’t really unveil right now because they will soon air them, and they will last till towards the end of the year. It’s quite exciting stuff.
Is that from Nigerian Idol?
No, it’s under my own production label,Contagious Collections, so we are producing a bunch of these shows.
What should kids expect from this show?
We have one for kids called Nunu super kids. It’s literally a quiz show on radio for kids during which we bring together kids from different schools. We call them up on radio and their parents support them in solving maths equations and English questions live on radio. We have fantastic prizes for them and that’s what we are currently working on.
How did you start off with Nigerian Idol; I think that was the first thing that really brought you into limelight?
No, I have been doing TV for a while now. I was with Naijazi as brand manager and producer, then I was with Sound City for about three years and I produced few of their top shows. I’ve been part of Nigerian Idol for five years now; from Season 2 to Season 5 with Season 6 starting this year. I really love my journey, because it gave me the opportunity to go round the country and meet artistes who would become famous in the next 5 years. For me, it’s always that journey of finding that fresh, raw, and uncut talent. I thank God for the opportunity to really go round and discover these people.
What’s your most exciting experience on Nigerian Idol?
The shocking aspect is that people think it’s just a TV show, but it’s not. These are people’s lives, people standing in the sun. We were at Ibadan for the first time and there was this guy who had no place to stay. He is from Oshogbo. He slept in the lobby of the hotel the night before the audition and was not picked. Then he came to Lagos for the next audition. When you see the struggle, you notice that this is real.It’s not just a TV show; this thing can change their lives.T he things that they get from the show like a brand new SUV, N15 million cash are life-changing stuff.
Over the years, what’s your greatest achievement?
Honestly, I’m honoured and blessed for the privilege to serve. To be the spokesperson who goes round the country searching for talents. Every year, there is a different achievement,because you have a different winner every year; so it’s always good to see and be part of that person’s story. That is my biggest achievement on Nigerian Idol.
Did you undergo any formal training for it?
Not really, I’m just passionate about it but I studied Mass Communication, so kids out there, if you want to turn your passion into a profession, then you need to find out wha t your passion is. Then, you need to discover the next three ingredients to bring out that passion and become a professional. You can do it through formal education or through online courses. The world is open to you right now, you don’t have to be a university graduate and if you feel like,you can study on your own,privately.
What else are you into?
I have been producing for quite a while, since about 2006 precisely. People know me as the on screen guy, they know me as the Nigerian Idol guy, but most of the other things they don’t know is that I probably own those shows.
What was your childhood like?
Growing up was nice and I think like every other average Nigerian kid, I played football on the streets. I like amala and I had some for lunch today. I had my primary education here and I knew this is what I wanted to do since childhood; I have been doing it since I was sixteen.
Have you ever screwed-up on stage?
This is the thing about me, I love what I do. So, when I step on the stage and I’m talking, I make mistakes, then I joke, I laugh at myself on stage before everyone and then they have fun with me. That’s the best way, I don’t take life too seriously. I love my job and I’m a professional at it but everybody makes mistakes. Now, the difference is how you correct that mistake on stage. Like when I announce a winner of a show wrongly, and everybody knows it’s a mistake, then I realize and then say you know what? I’m messing up the show but the real winner is….” and everyone just laughs it off.
Did you ever think you would be this successful?
In my mind, I’m not big yet. I’m still trying to be big. I have been here for 10 years; we still don’t know where we are meant to be. There’s so much potential in this market, there is so much money. We are still scratching the surface. Nollywood needs to be more respected like Hollywood.
Most times, presenters like you become actors. Are the scripts not coming?
You know well I started-off making music before becoming a presenter. I might still put out an EP (Extended Play) record or like a five-track album but I don’t want it to clash with what I’m doing right now.
Have you dropped any beat?
Yes, I dropped a mixed tape two years ago on Sound Cloud though it wasn’t very great. I bet people don’t want to listen to it. But it was just me; I just wanted it out there . I have been getting loads of movie scripts. I’d love to just act in a movie but I have never pictured myself being in a movie scene. It’s 2016, the matter is expensive.
You are handsome, are you seeing any woman right now?
No, I’m not seeing any woman now; I’m married to my business. I have many wives i.e radio, TV shows etc. I’m not dating anyone; I’m smart, super single. Just follow me on Instagram.
How do you unwind?
Yeah, I go out. If you come out at night, you’d probably see me seated somewhere in a club chilling out.
Have you had any crazy female fans?
I have some crazy female fans. One of them called me regularly and then one day she was in front of my house. How on earth would that be because I live in a gated estate, then I peeped through the window, saw her and snuck out through the back door.
Is marriage still far cry for you?
Yes, it is. I’m a young man and I’ve got time. When I’m chasing a grounding-breaking business, I give it my whole time.
Aside from what we see on screen who are you?
Olowu is a real shy person, extremely shy. A lot of people mistake that for arrogance, but I’m really quiet when I’m not working because I talk for a living. I want to save my voice when I’m not working because my voice is expensive.
Have you had any female friend?
I have dated one or two girls in the past.
Did they dump you?
Of course, they did because they are very beautiful girls. Who am I?
Would you like to marry a Nigerian girl?
I don’t discriminate. All my girlfriends have been Nigerians. Yes, when that time comes.
What’s your advice for youths out there who want to become presenters?
First things first, do not let anybody tell you “no”. You are going to hear it but don’t let it discourage you. Your mirror is your best friend; social media is your best friend.W atch me, everybody has a signature, everybody has a trademark,a style. You need to discover yours.
What’s your advice for children or adults who want to come to Nigerian Idol?
One thing in Nigeria is that you have to come correct. You have to do your homework, you have to get ready, work on your vocals and be good with instruments. There are little things that differentiate you from the next person.
Everybody thinks they’d come to Nigerian Idol and win it but it doesn’t work that way because music is about character, charisma and stagecraft. We have to find one person that has everything. You need to discover what kind of artiste you are. Are you a recording or performing artiste? You need to study how the industry works.