TALENTED comedienne, Helen Paul, popularly known as Tatafo is indeed many things rolled into one. She is an actress and a singer. The mother of one child visited ENCOMIUM Weekly on Wednesday, January 29, 2014. We had a chat with her about her projection for 2014. She also spoke on sundry issues…
How would you describe 2013, career and family wise?
2013 was a fantastic year. In terms of my career, it was very good. I did more movies. They will be released this year. I also had more stage jobs in terms of comedy. It was a year I realized that I needed to work more on my craft, I will learn more, read more and do better things this year. 2013 was a great year, 2014 will be better.
For my family, family is your life. You learn every day. It is not about 2013 or 2014, it is about you learning every day. It was a fantastic year in general. My son started going to school, everything is getting better. My husband loves me more, I love him more. I think I am now feeling like a real mother. I have to take my son to school every morning. There is a routine my husband likes, you have to hug him every morning before he goes to work. It was a fantastic year.
Helen Paul is seen as a very fantastic entertainer, you are known as an actress, comedienne, on-air personality, singer. How did you know you could do all these?
If you are a thespian, you should be able to do more than one aspect of entertainment. Aside singing, I can also draw. I just have those talents. Every human has more than one or two gifts, just free yourself. I free myself and allow things flow. I am myself at all times. I don’t let people pull me down, neither do I allow them dictate to me what I want to do. I know what I want to do and I go for it. If I see someone dancing and I like it, I will meet the person to teach me and before I know it, I too will start dancing. Once I see something I admire, I go for it.
I can’t say this is it. I celebrate every good time. Anytime I feel a bit down, I think it is just time for me to learn. In 2013, I realized that I didn’t know (in quotes) what we can define friends to be. I didn’t have many friends. I came out with a quotation that, ‘If you don’t have a friend that builds, you have to build it yourself.’ I had some misunderstanding with some people I called my friends sometime back. I believe my friends should build me, make me feel important than destroying me. So now, I build my friends. If someone should come to me saying, they need the service of a person I know but don’t have money, I wouldn’t call the person. I will rather give them the person’s contact, I don’t expect friends to be begging me for house rent or some little things. Rather than hurt my friend by getting non-paying jobs for them, I better stay off.
I also sat down to look at other colleagues. I realized that it was their friends that revealed their secrets or told people their problems. So, those are not friends. I was very conscious of the people I move with. I wasn’t all out there, I only go out for events, get paid and go home. Hardly will you see me at events just wasting my beautiful outfits I am supposed to wear to where I am paid.
Sometimes people complain that journalists are not doing them right. When you say journalists, no journalist will come inside your house, except the ones you call your friends. So, you need to check such friends. Right now, Bayo Adetu is my publicist. Whatever I don’t want out there, Bayo will not take it out because he knows the real meaning of friendship. The circle you move with is very important. I play with people outside but I am a very careful person.
What are your projections for 2014?
To get better, maintain the few friends I discovered in 2013. To get better in all my crafts and family life. I have an album in the market I am trying to push. I know it is not easy but with time and good friends around me, things will go well.
How did your singing career start?
A friend, at the same time a big brother, known as Michael Abdul, influenced it. He called me and asked me what I have been doing with the singing part of me. He said he never knew me to be a comedian but a singer. I told him I don’t have time and all that, so he invited me to the studio, we sang, did the beat and it was okay. That was how it started.
You cannot serve two masters. I am a comedian, radio and TV presenter professionally but the singing part is for fun. When I started comedy, it was also for fun – but before I knew it, people started paying me for it and I started giving it shape. I learnt from the big names in the industry. Singing for me started like fun. What you don’t enjoy doing, don’t get into it. If it gets into the business level, it is okay for me. I respect Tiwa Savage, Omawumi, Waje and others. People know me as a comedian, the singing aspect is for fun. People shouldn’t expect that aspect of me to boom just like that. If my fans want me to go into it, I am ready. Every gift of God in me will find expression.
A lot of people were quite impressed with your performance in The Return of Jenifa, I think that film brought out the actress in you?
No, I have done some other flicks before. I think it was because Funke Akindele was part of it. I thank God for Funke Akindele who gave me that opportunity. A lot of people saw the serious part of me compared to what I have been known for.
Do you have any script you are working on?
I don’t write scripts for films. I do for stage. But I came back from Enugu not too long ago, I was shocked when I was invited. I also did another film with Elvis Chuks. Funke Akindele was also part of it. I played the lead with Funke.
How do you juggle family and work?
My friends have been helping out. My house is a playground. My husband is my friend, he understands me well and we assist each other.
Me and my friend will discuss that. My husband is my best friend.
Last year, the rumour was that you were expecting another child. Not long after that, you disappeared. So, people felt it must be true, maybe you were hiding or something?
Nothing happened. I just registered for my Ph.D, I had to read, prepare for it. I also opened a shop. So, I was busy.
How do you cope with all these?
Having the right people who can make things happen. Once you trust the people you have, no problem. My husband has a law firm, I also assist in running it. I am always looking forward to going home to play with my friends.
So, tell us about your shop, when did you set it up?
That was in 2012. We sell bridals, Ankara, lace, aso oke, wedding rings, anything that has to do with wedding.
Why are there more men in comedy than women?
We have more women but there are some jokes women cannot say that men will say. For instance, there are some things I Go Dye will say and people will laugh, a woman must not say such. There are jokes I have made and I started getting calls, even from my seniors. They insisted I shouldn’t have said such jokes because I am a woman. I think the society itself is not supporting women. Women don’t even support women. When you are married that is another problem. Some people believe since you are married, they wouldn’t talk to you again. I think the society itself is not appreciating women.
Princess is a fantastic comedienne. If people can only free their minds. But as a woman, immediately you get on stage, people are looking at your long earrings, your dress sense, your shoes and all that. We are used to criticizing women too much.
What can be done to change that?
There was this picture of Beyonce and her husband I saw on the internet. Beyonce was almost in pants performing. She was feeling cool, the lights were on her and all that. If a Tiwa Savage or Omawumi should do that, we will say they are prostitutes. I remember how Yinka Davies used to dress and even Fela girls, beautiful, clean ladies. All they are doing is acting and after the dance, they go to clean their faces so that you don’t recognize them. They know you will condemn them and tell people they are prostitutes. But when a guy does such, we will all clap and call it his logo. It is just an act. Look at the way we condemn Tonto Dikeh, she is just trying to do her thing. We have forgotten we all have emotions. By the time we do all that, we are already discouraging other women.
– SHADE WESLEY-METIBOGUN