12th August, 2011
Â Too much TV viewing can contribute to students having poor grades, sleep problem, behavioural and even weight problems.Â However, there are good sides to TV viewing, provided you watch appropriate programmes that are both entertaining and educative. Olayinka OLukunga plays the role of Nnenna in one of the popular soaps by Wale Adenuga Production (WAP), Super Story, Nnenna and Friends. Her character evolves into an entertainment brand with wide followership among children and teenagers. With the huge suceess, Olayinka now hosts a new television programme titled: “Nnena & Friends”.Â In this interview with YouthForum, Olayinka speaks about her role and how the TV programme can influence children to connectÂ positivelyÂ with their families, friends, teachers and people around them.
First, it was Nnenna and Friends TV drama series, you later came up with Nnenna and Friends Show and now the TV programme, how is it working with children?
The truth is we are all growing. Iâ€™m a child too. It is not easy when you are working with children, you have to be attentive. Most children nowadays have grown past their age. With what is happening on local and internatonal TV now, children are exposed to many things. When you are talkning to a 10-year-old child, you will discover that she knows what you donâ€™t even know. You have to be very gentle with them. You must send your message across to them in a very gentle way. If you do it forcefully, they will run away from you and you will not get positive result.
TV is the easiest way to reach out to youngsters, but most of the children programmes on TV have little African values, should we expect more from the programme?
Starting from the name, Nnenna and Friends is African. Nnenna means mother of father. Just like our other programmes, every thing we will be doing on the TV programmes is to inculcate our cultural values in the children.
We have the guardance and counselling segment, where we talk to the kids things they need to learn and know in order to come out well. Our drama segment also sends across messages to the kids. They will have fun while watching it but at the same time learn from the drama.
Modelling, acting, singing and studying, how do you cope?
God has been my strength. It has been alot of hard work, trying to meet up in school, trying to work here and planning for the programme, but I’m coping.
Would you advise children nursing this ambition to follow your footsteps?
I wonâ€™t advise any child to do that right now because it is time consuming. It takes a lot to combine school and work.
What about the children discovered in your talent hunt and are particpating in your programmes?
I donâ€™t want children to get me wrong that it is easy to combine both because Nnenna is acting and still in school. They might lose their focus. Yes, they can combined both but not at the expense of their education.
What about the TV programme?
I shoot ahead. Now that I am done with exams, I am planning to shoot as many episodes as possible. When I am back in school, I only concentrate on my studies. In as much as I want to help them nurture their talents, and encouarge them to use their skills properly, I want them to focus on their studies. How do you feel playing this positive role?
Happy, elated, I enjoy doing it.
What qualities did the producer see in you?
When I went for the auditioning, I was given a role to interprete and I did it to their satisfaction.
To perform this role well, you need more than acting skills, what keeps you motivated?
After the drama series, it could have ended like that. I could have moved on to acting in home movies. But I have decided to do something for children because I love them.
That means you are also worried about the problems facing children, especially the less-priviledged ones?
Yes, there are child-trafficking, teen pregnancy, child prostitution and slavery. Children are hawking on the streets when they should be in school and there are so many other problems children are facing today .
What can be done to help these children?
I canâ€™t help them single-handedly. Everybody has a part to play. I have a role to play. The kids, their parents and the government also have roles to play.
There are laws that protect childrenâ€™s rights. In Lagos State, it is a law that any parent or guardian whose ward is caught hawking on the street during school hours should be arrested and detained. But everyday we see children hawking and no parent has been arrested. The law enforcement agents who are supposed to enforce these laws should start working now?
What advice do yo have for children who find themselves in such situations?
As a child, if you find yourself in such a situation, no matter what, stay focused, be determined to make it in life, study hard and put God first in everything you are doing and definitely one day, you will scale through.
Itâ€™s not been easy. Everybody must face one challenges or another.
Talking about growing up, how was your childhood?
Didnâ€™t you have challenges too? I had challenges too and I still have, everybody does. When I left secondary school, it was not easy for me to gain admission into a higher institution. I spent about six years before I gained admission to Lagos State University. I wrote JAMB five times, but I was not discouraged. Not that my results were bad, but I didnâ€™t meet the cut-off marks required for the course I wanted to read.
Was that why you went into modelling?
Along the line, I started modelling to keep myself busy since I have a flair for it. But I still didn’t lose focus.
How did your parents react?
My parents trusted me and they knew it was what I wanted to do and they supported me. But if your parents do not want you to go into modelling, there are many things you can do. You can go into catering, tailoring or hairdressing. It could be anything. It doesnâ€™t have to be acting or modelling
What about the fame, most youths aspire to be superstars?
You can acquire fame doing anything, provided it is legal. Be good at what you know how to do best and do it the right way.
What does it take to be a member of Nnenna and Friends Fans Club?
We donâ€™t register students individually, we register schools. We have marketers who visit schools and schools also send their request to be members of the club.