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Ayko, supporting raw talents, leading mental health talk in entertainment industry

By Eniola Daniel
03 July 2021   |   5:53 pm
The red-carpet glamour can sometimes hide the stressful realities of working in the entertainment industry: job insecurity, low pay, burnout, rejection and intense periods with long hours away from family and friends is just the tip of the iceberg. That is why industry experts are now calling for more mental health awareness and solutions. In…

From Left: co-founder, AYKO Agency, Ayoola Bakare: the winners Adedokun Abisola, Similoluwa Afolabi, Omoboriola Adunni, Ewaoluwa Onilenla, and Inimfon Iniama and, co-founder, AYKO Agency, Koya Onagoruwa at the AYKO Agency talent competition in Lagos

The red-carpet glamour can sometimes hide the stressful realities of working in the entertainment industry: job insecurity, low pay, burnout, rejection and intense periods with long hours away from family and friends is just the tip of the iceberg. That is why industry experts are now calling for more mental health awareness and solutions.

In its maiden edition of the AYKO Agency talent competition, held recently at the Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos, Ayko Agency founded by Koya Onagoruwa and Ayoola Bakare worked the talk by leading campaign for mental health in the entertainment industry in the country.

Speaking with The Guardian, Onagoruwa, said: “we are launching the talents and modeling competition for Ayko Agency and this is our first outing. We went live in March this year but we’ve been talking about this for couple of years.

Onagoruwa said the sole reason for organising the competition was to help people who are under represented, who don’t have opportunity to become model themselves. “Our contestants are those who don’t have the chance to become artist, singer and model, and that’s one of our criteria for picking contestants. In this competition, it’s not enough to be talented, contestants have to have compelling story(ies), background. We looked for people who left school to look after his or her family and didn’t have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. We formed Ayko Agency to give back to the underprivileged in the society.

On the prizes, he said, “five out of the 14 contestants are getting N500, 000 each, in addition, we are taking them to two weeks boot camp and they will be given training on financial and personal development and well being to help them with their mental health awareness.

“Hence, this will be done twice a year so, we will do the second one in November if we get the support. Everything here is self-funded and Ayoola and I reached out to so many people but we couldn’t get much support. We hope that through this maiden edition, people will understand what we are all about and will key into the project and move this forward.

On her part, Ayoola Bakare, said: “we want to look for raw talents in Africa and be able to put them on a better platform so that they are seeing on the global space. We launched call for entering for the competition on March 8, 2021 and we got over 8000 applications; we were able to shortlist the application to 100 persons and the 100 came into physical audition process where we picked 14 contestants after that.

She added: “What makes us different is our intentional passion to support talents. The boot camp invests in mental health awareness within the creative industry, teaching winners on how to create contents, how to put themselves in a position where they are visible. We have friends, experts that supported them in the camp. We want them to understand the ability in giving back.

Speaking on challenges in organising the event, she said: “We were goggling jobs to make this come to life and we didn’t wait for anybody because it’s our passion to do this.

“I’ve been a model in the UK for a while and face of several magazines and I’ve been part of campaigns so, for me I feel that my purpose in life is to make an impact in the world.

Speaking on the state of the modeling in Nigeria and what Ayko is doing differently, she said: “the modeling structure in Nigeria is believed to be not properly structured.

On sustainability of the programme, she said: “this is the first time we are doing this and we are hoping that this get to places and the right people get to know about it. We are ready to work hard to sustain this, but we are welcoming organisations.