In this interview with Olamide Famuwagun, BB9ja reality TV star, Hazel Onou, popularly called Whitemoney, reveals why he focused on his strength instead of schooling; his undying passion for doing music, and how he has been unrelentingly saddling his music career against overbearing criticisms from the Nigerian music audience.
How has your journey into stardom been? What have you missed the most?
My journey into stardom has been amazing, I thank the Almighty God for life and abundant grace. I have also missed my local foods, ewa agoyin with better soft Agege bread from Iya Qudus.
Kindly give us an insight into your current projects?
I’m currently working on a lot in entertainment and business. On the entertainment aspect, I have my music which entails developing my craft by dropping new singles, albums and movie gigs. For business, I have my wine, shoes etc.
You once said you couldn’t further your studies to the university level, tell us what was responsible for that?
There were two reasons for my incomplete education. Firstly, there were no finances to see me through school. Secondly, at that point I could tell that going to school wasn’t part of my strength, instead, craft/business was, so I decided to focus on my strength.
As a celebrated figure in the entertainment industry, do you see yourself going back to university?
To go and join the strike? Lol. Honestly, no. Right now, my mind is just channeled on making more money. Thankfully, I know the basics that can help me make the money and I’m cool with that.
During the BB9ja reality programme, cooking happened to be one of your major strengths. How were you able to develop so much passion for cooking, and how well have you leveraged on that strength after winning the show?
Yes, it (cooking) was, and all thanks to my mom who taught me how to cook. On the leverage part, Well, I have not because I believe that the fact one can cook doesn’t mean you can run a restaurant but I will be launching “Whitemoney party jollof” in a bit.
How will you measure fans’ reception towards your music career choice after the show?
Hmm, Fans will always be fans. Some have been so amazing, engaging and supportive while some have been shouting and ranting about it. The truth is that my choice or choices is between me, myself and God. So, yes, it’s accepted.
Why do you think people were surprised when you decided to go into music?
This is because everyone (fans) wants me to cook, they don’t want me to sing or rather they didn’t know I will take music seriously but I’m chasing my passion and what I love. I don’t want to be the guy that gets old and regrets not doing what he loves. I’m just doing me and I’m happy.
Fans have criticised your music; they’ve compared you to other ex-winners of the BB9ja reality TV show that are doing music, because of these criticisms, have you at any point had doubts about your music career?
People need to understand that we are different with different unique sounds. I have never had doubt in myself or my career because one day, I will win the Grammy. You can’t get it right at once or all the time. That’s why constructive criticism is part of the process. But when it’s not, I ignore it because the more you criticize, the more God blesses me and I cash out.
Amid the criticisms, what has been your biggest motivation? What kept you going?
My biggest motivation is the Holy Spirit. I believe one day my sound will be fully accepted.
Since you won the show, what strategies have you executed to give back to the society that made you?
I give back in my own little way on a daily basis. Some things are done without showing it all out there.
There is a perception that entertainment lovers have high expectations from reality TV stars, these expectations most times make these reality TV stars feel immense pressure. Give us your take on this?
You know this Big Brother platform is one that gives you fame in just three months. Ordinarily, it will take a normal entertainer a decade to achieve it. That’s why it comes with intense pressure, calculative decisions and so on. Some people will want you to live your life in a certain way that they think it’s best for you. Omo! Ko easy, but we go survive. I want to say big ups to all the OGs that have been here before me. Finally, I’m grateful to God Almighty for this moment. No be my fault say I dey famous, Na God do am.