Earning a living and establishing one’s craft in an industry that is largely dominated by men could be a difficult terrain to walk on but Anita Asuoha, better known as Real Warri Pikin, has consistently been living up to expectations and registering her name on the lips of many within and outside the entertainment industry.
In this interview with David Adebayo of Per Seconds News, she speaks about the journey so far.
Recently you emerged the stand-up comedian of the year and best comedy show of the year. How do you feel?
I feel really good and grateful because we have come a long way. Winning those awards feel like the crowning to years of tenacity, hard work and grinding. It pays off and worth it. And I will say this again; I am dedicating the award to all women in the comedy industry. This goes to show that with hard work and determination we are unstoppable and a force to be reckoned with. Slowly but surely our works will show.
You have succeeded in building a strong brand for yourself in a male-dominated comedy industry. You also don’t look like you are ready to let go this space anytime soon giving the number of contents you push out regularly to your audience. How do you put all these commitments together?
I sincerely do not feel challenged because I’m good at what I do. The goal is to keep holding your space and getting better at your craft irrespective of who is standing before you. I have heard people ask me how I survived in a male-dominated industry but my response has always been. Who named it a male-dominated industry? This is another industry open to every creative person who knows his onions and wants to create something for his or herself. I hold my place by being better than my previous self, reinventing, researching, and working twice as hard.
There are ladies who work twice as much as you do but they don’t command the kind of crowd you pull. What does this mean to you?
I think we have to accept the fact that at this moment in time that there are more opportunities for women, especially those who can recognize their moments and build on it. As far as I am concerned, there isn’t any competition and I fully believe that the more we help each other, the more opportunities we will get.
You have come a long way but your career looks to be ticking the boxes at the moment. What or who do you owe this success to?
I will say that people started noticing my name in 2008 when I contested in the “Glo Rock ‘N’ Rule’’ dance completion and won. I was made an Ambassador in 2009 and in 2011, I also auditioned in “The Maltina Dance All Family Competition’’ and finished as the second overall best with my family. From then, I moved on to hosting a radio show, compering events, standup comedy and acting. So the journey didn’t just start; it has been a long time coming and grateful to God for every opportunity I have been able to handle well.
But what gave you the impression you could succeed at this?
I don’t think there was a particular point when I consciously made that decision. The industry chose me early because I was born into a home of entertainment and I have always been inspired by all the creativity around me. I will say although that the attention started coming in 2018 as I said and it has been like that since then.
How have your background, upbringing and education impacted on your artistic career?
Living in Warri, Delta State and schooling in a university that supports talents played a big role in my career. I was surrounded by creativity and talent and being a young person, I soaked it all in.
Why does it seem difficult for women to be successful as stand-up comedians?
No. It’s really not difficult. I think the same rules apply to women like the men who want to make it in stand-up: Work really hard, get really good, and make a lot of friends. In fact, that advice might apply to most industries. Gender does not affect your drive, perseverance, or work ethic, nor does it determine the natural ability or comic timing or luck–which are all components of “making it”. But the biggest challenge to any comedian in this business is acknowledging what you are willing to sacrifice, and I think because of societal expectations from gender roles some of those sacrifices can be more difficult for women to make.
So this is a tough turf for women?
Without a doubt, stand-up comedy can be a tough business and it has traditionally not been a career many women have chosen to pursue, but right now, the world of stand-up comedy is now seeing more women on stage and they are successful. So, as long as you know what you’re doing and know your value, you’ll make it in stand-up comedy.
What is your style of humor and what influences that style?
My style of humor is a self-enhancing humour. It is characterized by positivity, even while acknowledging the day-to-day challenges of everyday living. I speak to everyday issues that people experience; hence my comedy has been described as relatable. I am authentic in my humor and storytelling and also in my communication; drawing from my own experiences and from the environment around me.
Who is Real Warri Pikin and how would you describe yourself?
I am Anita Asuoha, better known as Real Warri Pikin. I’m from Burutu, Delta State, Nigeria and brought up in Warri, Delta State. My dad is an Ijaw man from Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State and my mother is Urhobo. I am the third of six children. I studied Political Science/Public Administration at the Benson Idahosa University Benin City and graduated in 2012. I’m a comedian, a brand influencer, content creator, speaker and an actress. I describe myself as authentic, enthusiastic, indefatigable and confident. I am very passionate about what I do and I am consistently driven by a desire for excellence.
You had a minor role in Kemi Adetiba’s King of Boys. Does this mean you are looking into serious acting?
Absolutely!! I have actually featured in several movies like The Ghost and the Tout Too, Prophetess, The Fate of Alakada, Merry men 2, The Stand Up, Intricate, Lemonade to mention a just few. I am a multi-talented person and I believe in expressing all areas of my creativity.
Who are your biggest influences?
I am influenced by highly creative and cerebral talents in the industry and internationally. Among them are Richard Mofe-damijo (RMD), Kemi Adetiba, Funke Akindele, Bovi, Ay, Mercy Johnson, Kelvin Hart, Tyler Perry among others.
Outside of the arts and entertainment, what are your other interests?
I am passionate about quality education and gender equality. My goal is to ensure women and children thrive and that is why I started the Real Warri Pikin Foundation. The Real Warri Pikin Foundation is a non-governmental organization that enables women at every International Women’s Day by investing in their future through the 100k challenge, a grant opportunity for women.
The foundation also provides access to grants and educational materials for children because we believe that future leaders will be created through today’s investment in education for all. The foundation also runs a monthly mental health program to create a safe space for people’s mental health and to fight against mental health-related discrimination and stigma. Apart from that, I am an avid businesswoman with interests in real estate, I am a fitness and sports enthusiast and I also love football.
If you could work with anybody, from any point in history, who would you pick and why?
I’ll definitely choose Tyler Perry because I’m a huge fan of his work and what he stands for. Tyler Perry is a filmmaker that takes his career very seriously and he’s responsible for some very thoughtful dramatic productions. Having said that, he has also a well-appreciated sense of humour and a work ethic I like to emulate.