FAST RISING comedienne, Helen Paul, a.k.a Tatafo, is really swimming in joy as good things come her way in torrents. Wednesday, January 19, 2011 was her convocation ceremony at the University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos. She studied Creative Arts, graduating with a Second Class Honours degree (only two of them topped the class). There are also other beautiful things that are happening in her life.
How does it feel to be a university graduate?
I feel so glad, excited. I just thank God for everything. I don’t know what to say, I am short of words, I just thank God.
You were working and at the same time going to school, yet you still came out with a Second Class Upper. What will you say did the magic?
I won’t lie to you, it’s just favour. It’s just God. He just decided to favour me and I am very grateful. I am like every other student, we all struggled together, we all studied together, but God has been very good to me. He gives me strength and energy to make things happen.
How were you able to juggle your career with your education?
It wasn’t easy. I did my best and God crowned my efforts with success.
So, what next?
I am still working and I am also going to work on my Master’s. I want to start my Master’s immediately.
What were the challenges you went through in school?
A lot of challenges. Life is full of challenges and I am human too. I faced financial challenges. Attending lectures and working at the same time was quite challenging. You wake up very early to attend lectures, sometimes without eating. Sometimes, I had to sell the provisions given to me to sustain myself, but I thank God that my effort was not a waste. I want to appreciate my boss, Dele Alake (of Television Continental), for giving me the opportunity to work with him despite the fact that I was in school. I want to also thank my parents and all my friends for being there for me.
We learnt that your school instructed that you must not be pregnant after your wedding, how true is that and now that you have graduated, what should we expect?
Those who said that are out of their minds. It’s all rubbish. School does not stop anyone from being pregnant. You can be pregnant and be in school at the same time. Pregnancy does not stop you from reading, but I thank them for wishing me well. It is not school that is stopping me from getting pregnant, it’s work. I have my personal plans, it’s not everybody that gets married and gets pregnant immediately. My baby is my private life, my family is my private life, my children are coming and it’s my business.
What was the experience like anchoring Peak Talent Hunt?
It was very wonderful. It was just to sit down, look at talents, judge them and I also judged myself in the process to upgrade myself. We were judging each other. It was fun and wonderful. We judged the contestants based on their talents. It was nice.
What would you say gave you an edge over others to have been chosen to do that?
I don’t know. I think it’s God, because I don’t think there is anything that makes me different from others. I think it’s my time because I believe there is time for everything and I want to use this opportunity to say a big thank you to Peak Talent Hunt organisers for giving me the opportunity. I was just called to anchor the show, it wasn’t as if I was expecting it or that I knew anything about it.
Are you looking forward to being part of any other reality show?
Yes, of course.
Currently, you are anchoring the programme, Jara on Africa Magic, alongside Uti Nwachukwu of Big Brother Africa fame. How will you describe the experience?
It’s a wonderful experience, it’s been so nice working with a new set of people like Uti and I am learning from them everyday. Jara is a place where we educate and entertain people about happenstances in the Nigerian movie industry. We interview our stars to know more about them and their careers. It’s educative and entertaining.
You recently won an award, Best Female Comedian, UK. How does this make you feel?
I am humbled and happy. I do not have any secret than the favour of God. I was just chosen. I didn’t know anything about the award, I was never told, I was just called for the award. I wasn’t expecting it, they just paid for my flight, invited me for holiday, I went and I got it to the glory of God.
How many awards have you won so far?
I am still a small girl, I have just started. I have won just seven awards and I believe more are coming my way by God’s grace.
How much were you paid to be one of the judges in Peak Talent Show?
The amount was enough for me to eat three square meals for one month and I give glory to God.
What did you use the money for?
I said I was able to eat three times a day for one month.
You mean you didn’t invest?
Invest? What are we working for? Is it not to feed ourselves? I am okay because I was able to eat three times a day to the glory of God. I believe all is vanity upon vanity. So, if you have money, take good care of yourself and make people around you happy.
Some people say that you are becoming very proud and you have allowed fame get into your head, how true is that?
Maybe they just have complex problem and they need to work on themselves. You cannot remain the same forever. As a comedian, you should be able to differentiate between your stage performance and your real life. In reality, I am very firm and strict, but I am an actor on stage. If you see me on the street and you pull my shirt, I won’t take it easy with you. So, sometimes people just want to rubbish you, all in the name of playing, which I cannot take. Besides, I am married, so there is a limit to what I can take. Some people see you as a proud person because they have complex, but really, I am not a proud person, I am very humble.
- This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, January 25, 2011