‘Tayo Faniran, Nigerian male representative and first runner-up at the last Big Brother Africa Hotshots (BBA9) reality show, is living his dream in the entertainment industry with the mission to maintain his trademark, writes Ferdinand Ekechukwu
Tayo Living His Dream
It was the after-party for the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA) 2015, held at the Eko Hotel Expo Hall Lagos. The ceremony was about winding down when this writer came in contact with Akintayo Faniran.
Recall he was Nigerian male representative at the last Big Brother Africa Hotshots (BBA 9) reality show. Few hours before then, one had walked in the awards ceremony just when Tayo was about to announce the winner of a category in the annual television and film industry event, and in every bit looked the ‘Hotshot’.
In that session of revelry, we agreed to meet again. The chat that followed weeks later revealed a personality who is very vocal, with brash attitude and very intimidating style, on the surface. This betrays the simple and humble nature that defines his persona. Many may jump to a conclusion and pass him off as arrogant.
With Tayo what you see is what you get and what you see is all about his personality which he anchors on originality. “I would say I am original-in culture, in tradition, even with my origin,” he says. “Everything I say is as original as possible. I like to call a spade a spade; I don’t beat about the bush. That’s what I represent. I represent originality. I don’t appreciate fakes.”
This attribute, laced with his swag, to a large extent, played out in the continent’s biggest reality show. Tayo could be seen as always loud to fellow Housemates about whatever he thinks should be and whenever he thinks otherwise to individual concerns or group tasks and presentations.
With his trademark ‘gangan’ (drum) displaying his Nigerian roots, he kept it real. There was also the occasional burst of vernacular in a bid to entertain Africa in the most possible ways on the Big Brother Africa platform.
The reality television star has always wanted to be in the entertainment industry. This drive could be said to have inspired him to relocate to Johannesburg in South Africa in 2008 at the age of 22 to pursue a career in modeling. While in South Africa, he worked with Boss Models International agency and was showcased on the runway across the continent even beyond. In his quest to break into the industry, Tayo came home five years after leaving the shores of this country and stayed for a short period of time.
With a standout height and well sculptured body to give African-American male supermodel Tyson Beckford, a run for his money, the Oyo State-born star simply puts self discipline first as the major reason he never bonded sexually with any of the female Housemates. For Tayo, the Big Brother Africa Hotshots was more of business which ought not to be traded for pleasure.
At stake for him was the image of his country and family name; with the fact that he is from a well-cultured and religious home where parents, both deacon and deaconess, instilled moral values in him early.
He takes pride in the South African lady whom he had met and fell in love with before the Big Brother Africa adventure, as another reason he couldn’t have been found sexually intimate with the female Housemates.
“I have a girlfriend who was pregnant at the time. She allowed me to go, that was like the highest level of trust and love. So what can I do to pay her back, what can I do to return the trust and the love she showed to me? All I had to do was just to respect her.” Midway into the show, the lady gave birth to a baby boy.
The 63-day duration of the event was not without intrigues, suspense, in-fighting, mischief, love and romance that most often characterise the controversial seasonal show.
Buoyed by the popularity and population of the country he represents, with the scandal free image he professed, Tayo assumed himself a winner already.
Though he lost the $300,000 grand prize to Idris Sultan from Tanzania, he ended up as the first runner-up. The impact has been good all the same. “Life has changed positively, I am no longer the usual . . . ordinary Tayo. I am now the Tayo with a greater value; my presence is not the way it used to be”, he explained. “I am a star today; the way people treat me; the way people react to me; the love that I get from people is something great. I am a brand as well; God has used the platform of Big Brother to grow me. I am out there. Other great brands want to associate with me. They want to make me their ambassador. Life is great. This is the life I have always wished for.”
Obviously life has changed with multiple brands endorsement deals going for him. He is the face of Payporte, an online shopping mall that is fast becoming a household name. He is the Youth Ambassador for INEC, and also the One “Do Agric” Ambassador. There is also the huge amount of money allegedly given him by a popular Niger Delta businessman, Ayiri Emami.
Shortly after Tayo’s return to Nigeria from the BBA Hotshots, the business man was reported to have hosted Tayo to lavish drinks and a meal. A social media hogwash followed the party alleging that he received $350,000 from his host. Tayo categorically denied that any such thing happened.
As he puts it “Ayiri has not given me any money. I have met with him. We did hang out. And he’s a great man. Maybe on the long run it will happen. I have never sat on his neck to ask for the money. I don’t even have his number.”
He further explained: “I think for Ayiri also that period of time it was good PR for him. It was trending. The news was everywhere. That is someone shining out of my own star. He tapped into it. I am not offended that’s what life is about.
“When you are blessed you need to bless others. So when you shine there is nothing wrong with people shining with you as well but I just want to clear the air, Ayiri Emami has not given me any money; please let the world know it was just a promise.”
With his exploits in BBA bringing him recognition, he would not want to be zoned into one thing. He recently made his acting debut in a movie in The Anniversary. Topmost on his mind is to grow his fashion line and his modeling career.
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