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I started creating content at age 9 – Layi Wasabi

.......I felt I needed a tour guide for Anikulapo’s set- Layi Wasabi

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From making funny skits on Instagram to appearing in Kunle Afolayan’s blockbuster movie, Anikulapo, Olayiwola Isaac, popularly known as Layi Wasabi, is making efforts to keep exploring the entertainment industry.

In this interview with DAVID ADEBAYO, Layi shares his journey into skit-making, acting, and more that should be expected from him.

PSN: You became popular with skit making, and suddenly, you are in the face of everybody. Now everybody wants to see you beyond Instagram. You have transitioned into acting, and it seems you started on the right footing with Anikulapo. Does your quickness surprise you?
Layi: Okay, let me describe the feeling like this: You know, when you’re a child and you put your leg into your father’s shoes, you know you will walk around in those shoes, feeling funny and wobbling. That was how being on the Anikulapo set felt to me. It was a huge leap. It also made me question whether I was prepared to tackle the show. For the longest time, I’ve always been a lover of theatre. I’ve always wanted to do movies, stage performances, and even stand-up comedy. I just wanted to entertain in every dramatic form.

PSN: Did you ever think Anikulapo would bring you to the limelight?
Layi: I didn’t think that Anikulapo would be one of my first movies as Layi Wasabi. So when I got the call from the director that I was part of the cast for Anikulapo, it was a thrilling experience.

PSN: It is one thing that you’re called to be on the set of Anikulapo; it’s another thing to have the idea that it is being pushed by Netflix; what was that feeling like?
Layi: For me, I think Netflix came as an afterthought. So I think the first thing that came to mind, aside from the sponsor, was the project itself. So, knowing that Netflix is there lets you know the level at which the production of this movie is going to be. And that, for me, is super amazing. You know that this is a large scale and a very hyper-genre. But for me, what struck me first as an actor was what I had to do to get the art form at its best. I knew Kunle Afolayan was someone who was very committed to art. Therefore, someone of Kunle Afolayan’s calibre would expect you to give your utmost interpretation in whatever role he assigns you.

PSN: So you felt you had to bring your A-game into this?
Layi: So first of all, I knew that I was on his set with Kunle Afolayan; that was the first thing on my mind. Then I told myself, Layi, you have to bring your A game to this thing. Then, as I was working on a Netflix project, it dawned on me that it was indeed a Netflix project. I thought, Okay, this is serious business, boy; you have to do what you’re doing right. Yeah, some people were expecting to see the green lace and the green cocktail, just like you do on Instagram.

PSN: Were you overwhelmed at any point?
Layi: It was simply a dream-like situation for me. That was how it felt. I felt like a kid in a museum. That’s how it feels. I remember the first time I saw Taiwo Hassan. He passed me, and I felt like I grew up watching the people I was on set with. I felt like I needed a tour guide on that set. It was a huge moment in my life. So it was a dreamlike experience, very humbling, and very inspiring.

PSN: What do you think about the storyline that you played in?
Layi: It was a role that was offered, but I kind of understood why the casting director would pick me for the role. You know, and the two other people that, cause, the role I was supposed to play was that of someone that was pestering Saro. So, I could understand why the casting director was picking me for the role. The casting director decided to pick people like Wasabi, Sisi Quadri, may God rest his soul, and Funmi Awelewa for that role because, if you’re familiar with things that we’ve done aside from this project, you know that we know how to lambast people with our words.

PSN: You have been nominated for the African Magic Viewers Choice Award (AMVCA); how does it feel to be recognized for your creative work?
Layi: I’m grateful to God for life. I’m also grateful to African Magic and MultiChoice for the opportunity and the recognition, as a lot of work goes into digital content creation, and it is gratifying to have my work listed as something worth this honour.

PSN: Can you tell us about your journey as a content creator and how you got started in this field?
Layi: My journey as a content creator has pretty much been jet fuel. Although I’ve been doing content creation since I was about 9–10, I’ve also been acting since I was 13. Content creation for the digital space started in 2021, and there were a few challenges here and there, but overall, it’s been an amazing experience. I was able to gather an audience quite quickly. It came with a few challenges, but the upsides are better than the downsides.

PSN: What inspires you to create content, and where do you draw your creative inspiration from?
Layi: What inspired me to create content was the opportunity to share jokes and ideas. I’ve always been someone who loves social gatherings for the opportunity to just tell stories and share jokes with friends. Creating content felt like a way to do that.

PSN: What do you consider to be your unique style or niche as a content creator?
Layi: I think I create content for different purposes. Some of the content I create is for entertainment, and some is for people to relate to. My shooting star, POP, features a single man in front of the camera, while the content behind the camera is a blend of various styles. I really don’t know if there’s a niche in the comedy genre. I just feel like I create content for a particular purpose, or one that I have in mind at the time.

PSN: How do you stay motivated and overcome creative blocks or challenges in your work?
Layi: What motivates me the most is my audience; it’s very motivating to see the pool of people who didn’t know you before or haven’t met in real life just rooting for you, hoping to see you win, and looking forward to what you want to do next. It’s a very motivating feeling, and I love how I overcome creative blocks; sometimes I just step back from the drawing board and just experience life a little bit. I might as well grab a book and read or watch a movie. That’s the process of overcoming creative blocks for me.

PSN: Can you walk us through your creative process, from idea generation to final execution?
Layi: I think it differs from idea to idea. Some ideas originate as complete concepts, encompassing the beginning of the concept and its intended conclusion. The only thing I would do as a creative sometimes is just build the dialogue and the acting it would require. For some ideas, it could take months or weeks to have a perfect ending to the beginning of the story. It differs. In situations like that, ideas that don’t come as finished thoughts have to focus on the ones that are almost complete or finished already. Sometimes I revisit the old ones that I’ve not completed. I don’t force it most of the time.

PSN: What advice would you give to aspiring content creators who are looking to establish themselves in the industry?
Layi: They should try out a number of things and stick to what they know how to do best and what they think will make their audience thrive. Do what you are most comfortable doing as a content creator, because at the end of the day, if you are not comfortable doing that kind of content, at some point you will feel the need to outgrow it. It is important for a content creator to have a niche in order to grow your audience more strategically.

PSN: How do you use social media and online platforms to engage with your audience and grow your content creator brand?
Layi: It’s important for a content creator to grow a significant amount of following, and not just that, but a following that you understand. If you understand how to navigate your audience and have amassed a significant amount of it, this is what builds your influence as a brand and a content creator. That’s how I try to leverage social media by understanding my audience and trying to expand the reach I have as a content creator.

PSN: Do you see yourself winning the AMVCA Award?
Layi: It’s a privilege to be nominated. I hope I’m able to win, and I also recognize the fact that I’m shortlisted among great people, but it will be a pleasure. I would lie if I said I had not pictured myself winning the award, but it’s a pleasure to be nominated and recognized for the honour of winning an AMVCA.

 

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