My name is Ijeoma Aniebo, some people call me Declectic (the eclectic). I am an actress and TV presenter amongst other things.
What is Nigeria to you and what does it mean to be Nigerian?
Nigeria is home. To me being Nigerian stands for an indefatigable hope, that even in the face of adversity, things will get better. Let me use the fuel subsidy riot of 2012 as an example. It was the first time in this democratic dispensation that I have seen Nigerians agree and implement the power that we all know lies with the people. I was so proud of my country and even more so of the young people that were involved.
How did you find your voice / confidence in your decision to pursue your chosen profession / how did you know you wanted to do what you do?
I started performing in my parent’s living room at the age of 4. As I grew older, other kids were settling into more ‘serious’ professions and I couldn’t decide which one to pick. I wanted to be all of them at once. When I turned 12, I said to myself “I might as well find a profession that allows me be all the other things I wanted to be.” I always knew I would perform, I just never thought it would be my first calling. As for the confidence, I have to keep finding that everyday. Some days are easier than others.
Walking the road less traveled is always glorious once you get to your destination, what do you find are the challenges walking that path especially doing so in Nigeria.
Where do I begin? The constant need for acceptance, the lack of adequate financial compensation, infrastructure, etc. We are at a pivotal point in Nigeria where the film and entertainment industry is changing and in order to do that, everyone is really sacrificing. Back breaking work, literally, for almost little or no pay or recognition. The quick money avenues of the past aren’t available to us anymore so as an actor, you have to have multiple income streams to survive the overhaul. One day, I hope we can all make a comfortable living out of what we’re creating right now.
Tell us about a significant turning point in your life.
My first professional stage performance in 2009. It was the first time that I could breathe in and take cognizance of what happened to me when I performed and I knew I was on the right path. I have never looked back since.
What keeps you going?
God. It has to be him because there is no logical explanation. That being said, he’s surrounded me with the best people, friends and family alike and reminds me constantly that people, not money, make the world go round.
If you could go to the past and give your younger self advice what would it be?
Pick another career. Just joking. Seriously I would probably remind myself of one of my favourite motto: ‘Never let the fear of striking out, keep you from playing the game’.
Of all the places in the world to visit, where would you like to be/visit at this very moment and why?
South Africa. Because I didn’t get the chance to meet Madiba Mandela alive, I’d like to be able to say goodbye in person.
What would you rather, the front of Time magazine or Forbes? Why?
Time Magazine. I always imagine Time subjects to be people who have done something very impactful in the world. Money isn’t everything and as I said before, it is people that make the world go round. Money comes and it goes. It is the relationships we form in life that nourish us.
Favorite hip-hop lyric /music lyric / movie or play quote
It’s from a Jay-Z’ Blueprint album, a song featuring Eminem. ‘Renegade, never been afraid to say what’s on my mind at any given time or day.’ I think the song title actually has a double meaning for me because Renegades was the name of a dance group I formed way back in my college days.
Imagine your child is reading this 15yrs from now, say something to them.
I love you so much and just like my parents are there for me, I will be there for you every step of the way.