Tobi  Bakre: All I Wanted to Do With My Life Was to Draw, Paint, But… 

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Tobi Bakre was one of the three finalists at the Big Brother Season 3 series last year. He displayed a different style and approach to the game, winning the hearts of many and becoming an eye candy. He talks to Tosin Clegg about growing up, life before and after Big Brother, ongoing projects and a lot more 

I grew up in Somolu and parts of Ogudu 

My family is from Ogun State (Ijebu North). I am the last of four children. I have two sisters and a brother. Prior to the things I do now, I worked in the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and also worked in the banking industry for four years. I always had a passion for art and photography while growing up. I won a few art competitions locally as a child. All I wanted to do with my life was to draw and paint, but I am glad my parents influenced a more secure path. Now, I can be a financial analyst, artist, photographer and a whole lot more. 

Besides God, I owe every other thing to my family 

I grew up like every average Nigerian. I had very disciplined and loving parents. They were very active in major life decisions I have made this far growing up. Not to force what directions I took but to counsel and leave the ultimate decision to me. It’s pretty much the same story for my siblings. As a child, all I dreamt about was being a footballer or an artist (I loved to draw and paint). I eventually took a different turn to study Finance in UNILAG which helped broaden my perspective as I now still do the things I am more passionate about and more.  

Life before the Big Brother show for me was very different 

I was always within the four walls of the office or classes for professional exams. Any free time I got outside of that, I spent photographing, networking or travelling. I also liked to explore and try new things. I learnt to ride a power bike, learnt how to start and value a business, and learnt how to sell other things. It was a bit of a routine life but I tried my best to bring fresh and new things into the mix, as much as I could. 

My journey into banking and finance 

Prior to the new turns, I have taken in life, I started career working Laudable Express a logistics company, just before my youth service where I worked in the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation. I immediately started work with Heritage Bank after my NYSC. My first job role after six months of extensive training was the role of Relationship Manager, Financial Institutions. I worked alongside other colleagues to manage and establish new relationships with Financial Institutions in and outside of the country. After that, I worked as a dealer in treasury, traded currencies and securities to make income for the bank and also managed the bank’s liquidity as a money market dealer.  

Photography and the extra spice I bring into it 

Photography helped keep the creative side of me alive while working in the bank. I taught myself to take pictures before taking one or two beginner courses further down the line. I enjoyed every part of photography, from street to beauty, portraiture and others. I, however, have focused more on streets and portraiture. The elements of street photography enable me to tell real-life stories and capture storytelling moments in a frame, while the other enables me to bring creativity and ideas to life all within one frame. I have added the element of art to my photography. I love to paint and I have found how a splash of colours on a great photo can further provoke emotion and add more meaning to a photograph. 

The BBN show ended almost a year now 

I had a very small platform prior to the show. Now, I have a community of over 1.2 million people and can be relatively recognised across the continent. Every country I have visited, I meet people who love and believe in me. From other parts of Africa, USA, Europe, countries like Beirut. It’s honestly humbling how much of a reach has been gained. I have since the show been able to explore a lot of the things I enjoy doing. I started acting, hosting, mentoring and being more of a model figure for my peers and a good example to my society at large. The world needs more good examples and I hope to have a life and story that encourages and pushes people to be better and do better. 

The show was a reality experiment 

It gave the opportunity to look inward and learn more about myself and also learn more about human behaviour. One of the most important things I learnt was achieving goals by tapping into human resources around you. It is unimaginable how much greatness can be achieved when differences are put aside and we all tap into our individual strengths to bring new things to life. 

The show brought a new level of fame 

But prior to that, I had been a popular figure in my university days. It got bigger after that with the new dimensions and inventions in the social media space. Now, it is only amplified but the same rules apply. 

Since the show, I have taken time out building skills 

And gathering more experience to make myself a better Host/Mc, Tv Presenter and actor. The space comes with its challenges as these were new career paths I chose to follow. Besides being naturally gifted with the human skills to have a good career in those spaces, a lot of brushing up and practice is needed to be the best at these things. I have been on a few acting projects and hosted a number of shows; from live shows to award nights, to mention a few.  

Acting has been most interesting, challenging

We watch movies and never understand how much goes into the end result in terms of input from the talents and the great people behind the camera. I want to be a versatile actor. Most roles I have played have been in line with my natural persona. In the future, I’ll look at more challenging roles that will make me totally navigate to being someone different. Embody a totally different role outside of my person. These are the things that help build more skill and show the talent of an actor. 

It is never all rosy in life 

It is never all rosy in life, especially when exploring new ventures. I found MCing interesting and natural when I started but as soon as I started working on bigger projects with a larger and influential audience I soon realised I couldn’t solely rely on just what I had. I had to start tapping into the experiences and workflow of other established personalities in the industry, the likes of Alibaba, Ebuka, Ik- Wild Child, Chigurl, Adebola Williams, and I had to learn to be more versatile and knowledgeable to relate better with the ever-changing/diversified audience. 

Fitness is a lifestyle 

I personally believe you don’t have to go to the gym to keep fit. It all depends on your goals. Fitness for me is more about diet and daily life choices (as little as taking the stairs instead of the elevators, substituting soda with water etc). I do everything possible to keep my body moving at all times.

 I go to the gym not to keep fit but to get the desired physical look I want. My typical workout session is two hours, three to five times a week. I do as little cardio as possible and focus more on weightlifting. When I get my desired look, I can then switch to maintaining with more cardio and a different diet plan. 

When it comes to style, I often style myself 

On some grande occasions, I employ the services of a stylist. I have worked with a number of professionals in the fashion space (like of Style Infidel, Jreason). I believe looking good is understanding what works for you and being confident. You have to embody whatever it is you wear. It’s more about the confidence and suave than the material you wear. 

Fame doesn’t equal money

I wish how famous you are was how rich you are but fame doesn’t equal money, so you sure have to work smart and hard to make that transition. I have learnt to keep a sane space. It’s all about the people around me and the kind of things I entertain. I personally distance myself from things that tamper with my peace of mind or happiness. I surround myself with people who are of value, see value in me and help me be of more value. My family, a few friends and work colleagues.