Adeolu Adefarasin: Shop Talk Aims to Diagnose, find Solutions to National Problems

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His visit to the production of  Les Miserables with his sister changed his career path as he later pursued a degree in Performing Arts at the University Bournemouth and later moved on to the New York Film Academy where he honed his skill. He has featured in major productions from The Wedding Party 1&2 to My Wife and I. He had a major role in Season 3 of NdaniTV’s Skinny Girl In Transit before taking on major roles in Inkblot and FilmOne’s New Money along side Jemima Osunde, Dakore, Wale Ojo and Osas Ajibade and to his first lead role in The Eve alongside Beverly Naya. He will on June 15 unveil and host the hit online men’s talk show, Shop Talk  on YouTube page, ShopTalkNG. It is an innovative talk show where men open up about a range of real life issues.  Adeolu Adefarasin speaks with Funke Olaode

What was your childhood like?
I was born into a family of strong Christians, a family of pastors, so faith has always been a strong part of my upbringing and the lens through which I’ve seen the world. I am also the youngest of three children, which of course has its pros and cons. I credit my being the youngest as a vital reason why I have ended up in creative industry. I think as the youngest I probably, intentionally or not, got a longer leash to explore the more playful parts of my character. Though my older siblings both definitely have a creative streak in them they are rooted firmly in the business world.

What are your experiences in terms of success, failure and lessons?
One thing the entertainment industry teaches you very quickly is there is no one route to success. Yes, it is important to be inspired by others and to learn lessons from what you see around you, but you will find yourself burned if you spend time trying to imitate the success of another man. I have also learnt the importance of knowing who you are and being grounded in that. Rejection happens often in the entertainment industry as there are a hundred times more actors than there are roles; so the likelihood is you’ll fail more than you succeed and if you aren’t sure of yourself, it can get to you quickly. Your worth should never be defined by what you do or have, because even those with plenty will find a reason to believe it isn’t enough and they therefore are not enough. I have found that the more I have focused, not on any specific work or personal gain but on the impact I have on others, the better other aspects of my life has gone. Work seems to have been more fluid and provision always enough for whatever season I am in, more so than that, the rejection just doesn’t hurt as much or last as long because my focus is not on that. I have been very fortunate and blessed with the opportunities I’ve had and the people I have gotten to work with and learn from since I started working in the film industry here, to have been a part of films as instrumental as The Wedding Party to films as refreshing as The Eve.

Did anything prepare you for what you are doing now?
I would consider what I do now as so much more than just acting, and in light of that, I would say I was being prepared and am still being prepared, but for something I never knew I was preparing for. In the last few years my life has taken unexpected turns into things I never thought I would be doing, or frankly wanted to do. I always wanted to be an actor and a producer, but I never saw myself as a host or a presenter, and I certainly never saw myself in ministry but you find purpose in unexpected places. When things like that happen seemingly out of nowhere, you never feel prepared or ready, but I have learnt to trust the purpose giver more than myself or my abilities. The first season of Shop Talk as an idea seemed to come out of nothing, things happened so fast and took shape in ways I didn’t expect when it started, but I am incredibly proud of what was created and the potential for impact and growth it could have on a generation of men throughout Nigeria. The success of the show and the quality of the content only comes from God, so prepared or not, we move.

What influenced your to go into acting?
I remember when I first moved to school in the UK, I went to see a production of Les Miserables with my sister expecting to be bored, but being blown away. It made me decide to study performing arts at school and I fell in love with it. The opportunity to tell stories and see life from different perspectives. Acting helped me find my confidence, interact with people and learn so much outside the confines of a textbook.

What were your parents’ initial reactions when you decided to toe the path?
I’m lucky; my parents have always been supportive of my passion and desire for the entertainment industry. More than being supportive just in words they made sacrifices for me to be able to pursue the career path, so I am eternally grateful.

Having acted with the high and mighty, what usually struck you about those people?
One thing I learnt when I was in a drama school, that I have carried with me is to never judge your character. So where people see, high and mighty, or intolerant people, I always see out of their perspective. Even the “worse” of people have some sort of moral guidance and have a form of justification for all their choices that make sense to them.

At what exact point did you feel you have to change course from being an actor to becoming a host?
I wouldn’t call it a change but more an expansion. It wasn’t a decision I made, when I had the idea for Shop Talk it was birthed out of a desire to create a setting for men to speak openly and honestly about a range of issues that could result in growth and positive impact. So, hosting was birthed out of a passion for the content as opposed to the content being birthed out of a passion to host.

What is this ‘Shop Talk’ all about?
This season of Shop Talk takes on a new format. With the same goals of getting men to open up about a range of serious issues, this seasonShop Talk 3G is a series of roundtable discussions with a guest list spanning across generations, so as to create an honest and open dialogue between men across ages, hoping to have genuine impact and understanding of one another’s views and dispositions. With the first season there was a lot of focus on relationships, but with this season we cast the net wider, talking about issues ranging from age discrimination to mental and emotional health.

Can you throw more light on how it will run online?
Shop Talk will be released every Friday at 12pm, starting on June 15 on its YouTube page, ShopTalkNG, with media partners such as BellaNaija putting it out on their platform as well.

What do you plan to achieve?
The goal of Shop Talk and my long term goal personally are to influence growth in the country and have positive impact on the trajectory of our nation. I believe this comes by empowering our communities and the people within them, but most importantly, instilling the right values and morals in our people, which comes from open, honest dialogue and providing the right education for everyone. I believe men have a strong role to play in that and must be equipped with morals and values that we have lacked in recent generations. I wouldn’t say I am well versed in all areas of this but I have the desire to learn from the people around me and pass on what I have and I’m learning. I am grateful for the platform my career is giving me and using what God has birthed in me for good and believe as opposed to speaking of all that is wrong we begin to find solutions and act on them.

Any plan to air the programme on TV or radio?
It would be nice for the show to grow from being just online to television and hopefully that is something that could happen soon. More so than that, I believe that Shop Talk is more than just a show. I desire to see it do more than talk about issues and potential solutions, to coming together with other like-minded Nigerians to actively work on fixing issues and building a better Nigeria.