Bayegun Oluwatoyin (Woli Arole) is undoubtedly one of the finest testimonies of self-grown artistry through the social media. In this interview with Tosin Clegg, he talks about his forthcoming first movie, and other things
‘The Call’ will be hitting the Cinemas in 2018
My latest movie, ‘The Call,’ is about Arole and his merry band of never-do-well friends who get into yet another problem after he loses an expensive antic clock belonging to a powerful retired General in the community. In his hustle to raise money to refund the angry and impatient General, he discovered his new talent and soon realises that with great power comes great responsibility. This movie will be hitting the cinemas next year. It will interest you that my movie is the first that will be taking veteran actor, Yinka Quadri to the cinema for the very first time.
I am more popular on Instagram
I created the account some time ago, but I became very active on it in September 2015. Right now, I have over 530,000 followers. I was able to get that large amount of followers based on my work. When I post some of my skits, people tend to repost it. Because my skits are hilarious, people tend to save the videos and show it to their friends, by doing that, I get more followers because they would want to see more funny skits. Some people watch my skits and also tag their friends to watch it. These things help me gain followers.
I would say I was inspired by God
I just posted the first skit, people loved it and I never stopped. The first skit I posted was on a Sunday; I began with my prayer point pattern, I went into the bush, began to pray like people in the white garment churches do. People loved it and I never stopped since that time. I did not see it as a big deal, I saw it as a form of expressing myself and people loved it. I am still doing my skits till now.
About my style
I felt that the same way the fuji musicians promote their craft and take it to the far end of the world, is the same way an American rapper would promote hip-hop, and it is the same way I can promote my background in Cherubim and Seraphim church. I would say I was inspired by God and my background, because I attend CAC and Mountain of Fire. I felt that if the background is exposed to people within and outside Nigeria through my funny prayer pattern, it would be beautiful. I just wanted to promote my religion.
Massive impact on the life
We have people sending us message from all over the world. The number one impact my skits have on people is that it relieves them of stress. I believe my skits are medicinal because people get back from work sometimes frustrated but when they go through my page, they laugh away their sorrows. I am like a therapist; I take away their stress through my skits. You don’t need to go to a show and spend over N5,000; all you need is a little data on your phone and you would laugh in the comfort of your home, toilet, office, or when you are in traffic, all thanks to my skits. I am like a doctor to people and that is really big for me.
My skits and people’s response
Although there has been a lot of cyber bullying where people say that my skits are crap and they are not funny, I am not doing it for anybody. I am just doing it to express myself. That was what helped me. I did not start this to impress anybody but to express myself. If you like you can say my video is not funny, I know that someone else would laugh when they watch it. I am not bothered by anybody’s comment.
If the criticism is constructive, then I would go back to the drawing board and see what I can do differently and come up with better ideas, but I ignore the destructive criticisms. Social media is a place where a lot of people pour out their frustration, so with that at the back of my mind it is easy to ignore them. If I decide to reply any negative comment, a blog can pick it up and write something negative about it and that would not be good for my brand. People are entitled to their opinion, it is normal. The major focus is not on the negative comments. If someone says that a skit is not funny, then be assured that it is cracking someone else up, so focus on the person that is laughing hysterically at the skit and neglect the person giving negative feedbacks. Some of my fans and friends respond to most of the negative comments; so I don’t need to stress myself. A lady once wrote that I am not funny but boring and one of my followers replied saying, ‘you say he is not funny but boring, yet you are commenting on his page. Why not unfollow him.’ I found that response hilarious. What I say to people concerning this is that the fact that you have negative comments for me shows that you have feelings for me and I appreciate it.
Relating my skits to non-Yoruba audience
For now, I am only able to connect with people that understand Yoruba, but I subtitle some of my videos so that people who cannot speak Yoruba can also understand what I am saying. Soon, I would broaden my scope. The reason I speak in Yoruba is because the person called Woli Arole is a character that God called from the south-western part of Nigeria and he is a Yoruba man. So if he starts speaking English, it means he probably went to a school of theology. I realised that the fact that I speak Yoruba even makes people who do not live in Nigeria to connect with me.
If an Asian man could be a worldwide superstar then I should be able to speak Yoruba in London. I would also use this medium to teach foreigners my language. The beautiful thing is that some universities abroad are now teaching students Yoruba language. I am an ambassador of my language through my skits. I am proud of my language.
I am a prophet in my ministry
When I was growing up, I was always inspired by God to give prophecies. I see visions till now, it is God’s gift and I am very grateful. I do real prayers as well. I have a real prophetic calling aside from my social media skits.
Dealing with women and their advances
They still do but there is a way they do it and I know how I reply them. When they make such advances, I tell them comically that I am fasting. They know what I stand for and it helps me. That does not mean that I don’t get admirers, I do and people text me but it is just the grace of God.
I post them as I get the inspiration
I can do five skits a day. Most of my videos are spontaneous; some are scripted but the ones that go viral are normally the ones that I do not plan. If you like it fine and if you don’t, it is still fine. I am not apologetic about my posts.
Social Media has opened doors for me
I can’t deny that. It has put food on my table and that of my family as well. The greatest joy it gives me is that I make people happy. You have no idea how I feel when people stop me on the road to commend my efforts.
I get clients a lot from this thing I do on social media
I anchor weddings and various events in all sectors. Churches also book for my services and they pay well. It is not just fame without money. It has given me a better chance of being called for an event.