With a strong zeal for entrepreneurship, Ifunanya Igwe, a radio presenter and voiceover artiste popularly known for her show ‘The Midday Show with Ify’ on Lagos Talks 91.3, sheds light on her career in this exclusive interview with Sunday Ehigiator
Who is Ifunanya Igwe?
I am from a disciplined family of four girls and one boy. I’m a fun-loving Anambra woman, who started-off from having a balance of both worlds; in the sense that, I have experienced life from both sides. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon, though we were comfortable, but as we grow, thankfully through hard work and determination, my parents became successful and gave us the best of life. So to keep it simple, I am an On Air Personality, a motivator, also into fashion and a bit of modeling.
So how did it all start?
I always knew I had something with worth. I always knew I like to talk to people. Because, I was that friend, other friends would always turn to and share their problems with and hoping for a solution. And, I just always have the right thing to say. I don’t know how, but it just always happens so. Hence, they come back for more words and counsel. And people keep complimenting my wisdom but still, I didn’t really know what exactly I was going to do with the gift. Until I started watching a lot of Opera Winfrey’s videos and fell in love with what Winfrey was doing because, you know that she loves being in front of the camera and all of that, but it wasn’t just about the fame or popularity, but her genuine intentions to help people. From the different guests she used to bring into the studio off different walks of life to treat diverse issues affecting humans, to her philanthropic actions and testimonies from members of the public whom have been touched in one way or the other by her; you would realise that the intentions to help was genuine.
That was when I decided that, I want to do this sometime in future. I want to talk to people and want to know that, their lives are being changed. I want to be the reason why someone would wake up in the morning and say, today is going to be a better day, and life is going to be better for me. And from there, I also have passion for fashion. I was the last born, and I had some level of freedom. I could remember I spend my free times cutting up cloths; even though it sometimes comes out like rags, but the good thing is that, I still wear it like that, even though I wasted it by designs. So afterwards, I went to the University of Cape Coast, studied Psychology to improve on my God-given abilities, and that really prepared me in being who I am today. So after I was done in school, I returned to Nigeria for my compulsory one year of national service, afterwards, I returned to my dad and he asked me what I want to do. Then I told him I wanted to work on TV. And he was like, ‘okay, now that we can’t really see any TV’s opportunity around, won’t you want to start with radio?’ I actually had never thought of radio, but I embraced the idea since it’s still a means of speaking to the public, and that was how I started my career with radio. I started as an Intern for some months, and this is about my second year as a radio personality.
How have been able to handle the pressure associated with not having a media background while on the job so far?
To be honest, it hasn’t been so much of a pressure. Yes, I did study Psychology, but while I was in the university, I used to talk to people a whole lot, address crowds, and all of that. So, I was used to being in the public. So getting into radio, the university experience coupled with knowledge from my course, I was able to study, understand,and manage people I deal with on radio respectively.
What projects are currently working on?
Okay, I anchor a variety of programmes on radio. But I have a particular show of my own it’s called ‘Directions’. It is very dear to my heart. This is because it started with germane issues. Initially the name of the show was ‘Issues’, till it was renamed to be ‘Directions’. It airs on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 12:30p.m. to 1p.m. It initially used to be about tabling issues affecting members of the public to people of Lagos, and we come together to suggest ways in tackling it. But later on, as we grew, we went vast, by giving every issue a direction, bringing top professionals from different walks of life on every show, to tackle the issues, hence; the change of name. So, it now goes beyond people calling in to state their issues and us tackling it together. It now includes us, getting a topic and bringing in experts and different personalities to deal with it.
How did you become one of the presenters for the gospel concert The Experience?
The Experience is always a programme that I look forward to annually. First, I attend the church; House on the Rock, and I am part of their media team, hence I am part of the presenters that anchored for The Experience. The first time that I did it and we went live was three years ago; you know what? That saying when its either you sink or swim that was what they did to me. It’s like they threw me into the deep end. For someone that has never don TV, and when I was eventually to do TV; the first thing I did was to go live on a programme of such magnitude as The Experience. I was like ‘God! You have brought me here, see me through’. And I ended up doing it and it was successful. I am so thankful to God. And then, I have mastered it. The experience of The Experience was beautiful and great. And people gave compliments and even asked how long I have been doing TV. They thought I have been doing it for a long time.
Are there any upcoming project?
Currently, I am working on doing a programme on the TV. I can’t really say much about that yet, but surely when it is at that stage I want it to be before I put it out to the public, I would inform you at THISDAY. I want to take things step by step. Not to get so carried away, and I am grateful to God that for the past two years I have been on radio, mastered it and remained calm and un-swayed by the excitements of gaining contacts and fans from the radio. My focus is intact which is to build my foundation and perform my duty as required by my employer, before other things. And I thank God I have been able to do that, so expect the next phase.
What is your strongest quality?
My mind, and my smiles, I don’t really read much but I feed my mind with a lot of Podcasts, from so many personalities, sermons as well, to improve on the strength of my mind.
Why do you think people would love you?
If they do, it’s only based on the difference I have made in their lives. I know that I have been able to impact on the people to an extent. And I want to keep that up, not really to solicit for their love, but for the sake of humanity and genuine love to put smile on people’s faces. And thank God for the complimentary emails and messages I usually get from unknown people, appreciating and confirming my impact on their lives; how much I have added a difference. And that’s one of my motivations and the best reward any human could ever get.
Do Nigerians really feel this emotional?
Yeah! They do. I think that is where we all do get it wrong. The stereotype that Nigerians are stronger emotionally than the Whites. We are humans, if that was the case, then we shouldn’t be having mental cases in Nigeria. We also break down; we have feelings, limited level of endurance. Need someone to talk to, share grieves with; we need someone to just listen. And because we always feel we are tougher as a Nigerian that is one of the problems we have in this country. Why mental cases are on the rise day by day.
What has been your greatest challenge?
It’s getting better than I was yesterday. Not being stagnant or wanting your audience to be stagnant. That is one of my fears. I want my content to keep improving. And it takes a lot of sacrifices to achieve that. One of it could just be getting out of bed; of course, we are all human beings, we get tired as well. Sometimes, I feel so weak and motionless, wanting more sleep; but there comes the mind alert, screaming get up! Or you will remain stagnant. Hence, I just got to push myself up, and keep doing the needful.
What was your most defining moment in your career?
It’s actually getting this job. Because it was my first experience with the media; even with no experience and media background beyond internship, I was considered. There were so many other people that were better qualified, so I keep thanking God for His favour.
What has been your driving force?
It’s simply God. I believe it’s Him that has brought me this far to be compassionate about people’s challenges. To be able to operate in this mental capacity only takes His grace. A lot of times, even when you are going through your own personal issues, you just have to carry on without it affecting your delivery; it’s just God that makes it possible. Also driven by the lives of people I am touching, the testimonies and encouragements, motivates me to be better than I currently am.
Tell me something I wouldn’t know mere from your portfolio?
I like food a lot, and I have an excellent culinary skills. Food is beautiful. It should be celebrated and enjoyed. One of my favorite meals is fried yam and pepper/egg sauce. It’s like the coolest thing ever invented in this life.
How do you cool off?
I watch series. I love movies and traveling. I love to explore the beauties of this world. I have been to about five different countries inclusive of London and USA, but I am not stopping there.
What is your advice to aspiring young radio presenters?
Dream bigger than yourself; always know that other people’s lives are dependent on what you have to do. This mindset would motivate you better. So dream beyond yourself and keep building until you see it come to past.