As the entertainment and popular culture landscape continue to develop in Nigeria, the need to passionately engage with leading principal actors in that space becomes necessary.
The need for deeper interrogation of their art, content and conduct is even more pertinent especially in this social media age so as not to leave the shaping of media narrative about our entertainment celebrities solely to the neatly-curated but sometimes inchoate account from their social media handles.
One of the very thorough but few journalists that have taken up the gauntlet to bring the entertainment stars closer to media scrutiny in a professional, albeit with a friendly candour, is Azuh Arinze whose impact on entertainment journalism and publishing has been felt for more than two decades.
Azuh’s latest effort, Conversations With Showbiz Stars: How To Make It In The Glittering And Glamorous World Of Music, Movies & Comedy, speaks lucidly about the quality of shining stars within Azuh’s orbit and his fierce commitment to the brand of journalism that eminently fulfills the objectives of the profession – to inform, educate and entertain.
Entertainment stars and celebrities vary and develop at different rates and, often times, what they say or do once they have become accomplished can be radically different from the views they once held while trying to get unto the ladder of success.
It is the type of interviews that get the stars pouring out their hearts, almost in a no-holds-barred arrangement, that Azuh has compiled into this important publication.
Music and movie stars take a good chunk of the interviews while comedy, the emerging creative space that has boomed in the last 10 to 15 years with different layers of talented wordsmiths, also has a few names whose stories are compelling enough to warrant Azuh’s interest.
In three sections and with 35 interviews, all but one personally conducted by the author over the last 10 years, this book is a window into the hearts and world of Nigeria’s contemporary stars in the art of showbusiness. It is a story of different voices with different vibes who still deserve to be heard in their own words.
But this compilation is also more about the tenacity of a gifted journalist who is forever determined to bring out the tutor and role model in those he presents to his readers.
In highlighting stars like Sunny Ade, Lagbaja, Femi Kuti, Wasiu Ayinde (K1), Richard Mofe-Damijo, Genevieve Nnaji, Ali Baba and Ayo Makun, among others, Azuh, therefore, presents not just mere entertainers who, though successful, can sometimes be self-conceited or ego-driven.
Yet, he manages to extract from them gems and nuggets that the younger generation can either emulate or at least learn from their foray and foibles.
He did not confuse the popular for the important and the respected in choosing who to include in this compilation. And in painstakingly making sure that his questions serve his intended purpose of showing different learning curves through the career trajectory of each of the stars, Azuh’s latest effort falls into the broader contemporary creative agenda where the personal stories of the stars and celebrities themselves, like the stories they sell through their craft and talent, become a subject of inspiration to their fans.
With often piercing and penetrating questions that come alive in a light, fun read, this book blossoms with each page and interviewee. It contains all shades of funny, touching, blunt and sometimes controversial responses, which makes it yet another compelling product from an elegant interviewer and conversationalist.
As a co-traveller with Azuh on the beautiful but often challenging media lane that focuses more on the arts and entertainment, it is easy to appreciate his effort as a labour of love.
He publishes not just for the sake of it. He consciously seeks to impart knowledge and to prove that a great interview like a brilliant article done years ago can still be useful for today’s readers.
Like his previous books, he has once again shown that he is a good example of what today’s entertainment journalist needs. His books bring fresh perspectives and useful nuggets and this is no exception.
With Conversations With Showbiz Stars, he eminently demonstrates why multi-tasking and the need to explore other latent talents are a necessary recourse to having a robust and successful career in an era of ceaseless digital disruptions.