Denrele: My style is an expression of individualism mixed with Charm
Adenrele Oluwafemi Edun, popularly known as Denrele, is a television host, model, dancer and multi-talented personality. Born in Hamburg, Germany, to a Yoruba father and an Indian-Mauritian mother. He was brought to Nigeria when he was five years old. He attended St Gregory’s College, Ikoyi, Lagos and the University of Lagos. The award-winning TV star recently turned 40. He shares with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA his fashion style and entertainment personality.
Share with us an interesting part of your life’s journey?
I started out professionally in 1993, on TV and that was Kiddies Vision 101 programme on NTA network and it gave me a lot. Now we have social media, back then, there was none and so people recognised me on the streets, conductors and drivers will ask me not to pay transport fare. When my mum asked me to go to Yaba or Balogun market, people would just give me money and I became the template for other kids. It was very intriguing and complementary but that was not the kind of reception I was getting in my home front. I grew up in a family house where my cousins, at every point, tried to ridicule me, cut me down to size or make me inferior, but then from that point till now, I keep being the best version of myself. And so when people ask: is peculiar about turning 40, I tell them, ‘I am just starting afresh.’ They say life begins at 40, for me, life begins with another new day and this is another reawakening and opportunity to redefine myself, unlearn, relearn and to keep doing the things I love even in a greater capacity.
How are you able to hone your many talents?
I started out with acting and then I took up a teaching job, which I did for a year before getting into University of Lagos where I studied Theater Arts. I joined Theater 15 (consisting of all the actors you see today on flat mates) in early 2000. I went into modeling (commercial and editorial) and I used to be the smallest and skinniest on the runway. All the designers liked me because I had personality but they never had clothes that could fit me. After that, I got into dancing; I used to be a backup dancer for 2shot, Ruggedman, and even Charlie Boy’s wife’s personal dancer. The hustle is real and I have come a long way. Then I got into being a VJ, and that is where my sojourn into Sound City started. Later I moved to MTV, Ebonylife and then Channel O, Africa Now as a freelancer that I am. Doing all of these things has made me to understand that I am a proper headliner, jaw dropper, show stopper. I have realised that I am a man of many parts; if you put me in a box, I jump out of it.
You are such a fashionable person, how do you define your style?
My look is fun, not too serious but it’s serious enough to get compliments. My style is an expression of individualism mixed with charm. So it means that no matter the madness I wear, you will pause and say, well he is quite creative but I will not wear them, it is good on you. Before, people would see me and run away, but now they pause, admire the creativity behind the look, some say they like it and will definitely not wear it. But I think we are getting to a point where Nigeria is going through an awakening; we are beginning to accept new things, new norms and we are beginning to also integrate fashion into our everyday life. I wear anything because my body suits and fits into anything, so far I see myself in the mirror and I like what I see, I move on.
What is your favourite fashion piece?
I don’t joke with my shoes; they are an explosion of colour, life, vivacity and flamboyance.
What will Denrele never be caught wearing?
I have tried and worn everything, but then people still don’t get that I am not a cross dresser. My 40th birthday picture outfit is an ode to my mum; she remains the most beautiful woman I know. She is still alive and lives in Dublin and I wanted to re-enact an Indian look of hers, but I think the only thing I won’t be caught wearing is a tong because I am a man.
What is your favourite dish?
I have an adventurous palate; I eat everything, I eat Koreans, Canadians, my continental meal is the Thia food. For Nigerian delicacies, I love Ikokore, I also love pounded yam with fisherman soup or Okro with seafood.
In your 40 years of existence, what has life taught you?
There are two ways to know your existence; the way you behave when you have everything and the way you manage when you have nothing. Life is a series of thousands of tiny miracles, notice them, and listen to learn, learn to listen. Always be a first class version of yourself, and not a second version of anybody else. Above all, your story is important, your life matters, be yourself, love yourself.
What is the worst thing you have heard about yourself?
I have heard all kinds but the most recent is that I am jealous of Bobrisky, maybe I am broke and angry. That is hilarious because their opinion is not my reality. Another is that I am a huge drug peddler; people believe I take all kinds of substance, maybe because of my high-end energy, but truth is I have never smoked anything in my life.
What turns you on in people?
Making great conversations, being level headed and humble irrespective of your status in society.
What turns you off in people?
When I hear of pedophiles, it scares me to even having children and I worry if I can always look after them. I also hate people who fake to have an accent.
Describe Denrele in three words?
Unproblematic, non-conformist, love-sharer
If you are to change something in Nigeria, what will it be?
Power supply; how can we live in a country so rich in natural resources and we cannot boast of electricity. I live in a serviced apartment and I know what we spend to get this luxury, it is terrible.