Tayo Faniran: I’m a born model
Tayo Faniran is an actor and a model. The reality TV star, rose to stardom after becoming runner-up on the Big Brother Africa season 9. Born and raised in Ilora, Oyo State, he attended First Baptist Primary School, Olivet Baptist High School and Sped International High School, all in Oyo State.
He later graduated as a Midshipman of the Nigerian Merchant Navy from Stars Maritime Academy with a Higher National Diploma in Shipping Management and Logistics. Faniran has featured in movies, including Dieko, Man Like Jimmy, The Donor and most recently, Prime Video’s Gangs of Lagos. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, he shares his passion for modeling, going into acting and being away from limelight.
Share with us how you developed your passion for acting?
Since childhood, I acted in my primary school days and also at churches, but I began my professional acting career when I played a role on MNET’s Tinsel and the reaction of some or many people to my acting skills then wasn’t good enough which was what inspired me to work harder to become better.
You have been off the scene, until your role in the Gangs Of Lagos. What have you been up to?
I went back to South Africa in 2015 where I continued modeling and also featured in some Pan African films like Looking for love on Netflix. I came back to Nigeria in 2019 October and since then I’ve been pushing my acting career. I also launched my clothing line, Tayo Faniran Clothing and a beach lounge at Elegushi called Nsuku food & chillz.
Tell us a bit about your role in the movie?
For me, being a part of this movie is a second chance. Not a lot of people get this type of opportunity again. Ninilowo of Isale Eko (a.k.a Nini), that character made me a certified gangster for life; such a great character, loveable, cool and charismatic. Ninilowo triggers a lot of emotions in people who watch. Also, working with Jadesola Osiberu who is the Executive Producer and Lala Akindoju has been amazing. I have lived and worked in South Africa for 12 years and any one who is familiar with the South Africa system knows that Nollywood is the closest thing to Africa after Hollywood and it is amazing to be a part of the production.
You referred to Gangs of Lagos as second chance. Tell us why?
I was once at the top; I was trending in Africa for months because of Big Brother Africa. As the star of the season at that time in 2014, I knew how much hype I had. I came back, I was accepted by all the top tires in the industry, much love by fans too. There is a saying in Yoruba that the first money made in life by a young person is usually expended on beans cake, Owo ti omode ba kokori, akara loma fi nje. That was my first breakthrough, but mo fi je akara (I used the first money I made to eat beans cake). I had to go through a lot of things and I believe that God wanted me to go through them because He was preparing me for a better stage in life.
You are also a model. How are you able to hone your skill?
I’m a born model. I can model in my sleep. Because I’m a natural model, it shows in anything I do.
What do you consider your interests and competences?
Fashion, film (acting and producing), entrepreneurship and motivating people.
What should we be expecting from you after Gangs of Lagos?
I’m planning a major fashion show. I’ve also started receiving calls from other filmmakers, which means I will be on your screens more often.
What do you consider the challenges in the Nigerian movie industry?
Funds. I believe we are more creative than what the world has seen. We can definitely make more magic when we get the right resources we need.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion means life basically, without fashion the world would have been such a boring place.
What is your style?
Simple and cool, classy and elegant. I have never gotten it wrong before.
What is your favourite local dish?
Amala and Abula with bush meat or goat meat. I love to eat like a king.
Describe Tayo in three words
Original, tough and different.
If you have opportunity to change something in the industry, what will it be?
If I were a Dangote or an Otedola, I would have invested about $20 billion in the movie industry.