COVID-19 pandemic brought out my creativity – Folagade Banks

A skit maker, Folagade Banks, who has 236,000 followers on Instagram, tells FAITH AJAYI about content creation and other issues

How did you begin your journey as a content creator?

I began my journey as a content creator during the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, I was about getting to my final year in the university. COVID-19 practically brought out the creativity in everybody, because we were all sitting down at home, doing nothing. So, everyone started embracing TikTok, Instagram and other social media apps. I was idle at that time and I thought to myself, ‘What can I do to make myself happy’? That was where it started from. I started creating content in 2020, but it was not until 2021 that I got my big break.

In your skits, you usually portray an African mother/woman. Why did you choose that character— Iya Deola?

I started with that character in the latter part of 2021. I realised that there was some level of homogeneity among Nigerian mothers. It is almost as though there is a manual on how they behave. Whenever I talk with my friends about our mothers’ reactions to certain things, I notice a lot of similarities, and that inspired me to create that character. Mothers of those days have a lot in common, unlike new generation mothers.

I then decided to highlight those things they have in common. I wanted to create something that would resonate with people. Any content I put out featuring the Mama Deola character is based on true life experience. It is either I am mimicking a woman I have seen in a church, mosque, neighbourhood or a party.

In what ways did your upbringing influence the content you create?

My skits portray real-life instances of how African mothers react in certain situations, and my upbringing has a lot to do with that. I was brought up in a society where every mother figure out there is like a mum to one, and would act in the same manner as one’s mother.

I grew up in a very disciplined home. My father was an engineer, while my mother is a retired headmistress. It is common knowledge that teachers are strict, and they don’t tolerate nonsense. I am the last child so, anytime I did not go to school for one reason or the other, I would go with my mum to her place of work, and I would observe her and her colleagues. I practically followed my mum everywhere she went while I was growing up. I was like her handbag, and that gave me enough experience to bring the characters I play to life.

Tell us about your creative process.

I started making this type of content based on my interactions and love for African mothers, vis-a-vis their vulnerability, the way they make sure everything is okay, and that when their children are seen outside, they don’t bring back negative information that can be traced back to their family.

There are lots of skit makers out there. What are the things that make you stand out?

What makes me stand out is the grace of God, and my originality. If anybody watches my content, they would see the undiluted originality. I speak the dialect, and dress the part when I need to. I make sure everything I do resonates with what people have seen and the experiences they have had. I feel the combination of all that makes me stand out. I don’t believe in copying what someone else is doing. Rather, I create a niche.

Tell us about your family and educational background.

I grew up in a very religious home. My dad was an elder in church, while my mum was a deaconess. I was brought up in a well-educated family. I had the best toys, and attended one of the best schools. I am a graduate of Geography from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State. I intend to pursue a Master’s degree.

When you started making skits, what support did you get?

When I started, there were not many people out there to support me, because I was not popular. The first set of people that supported me, such as my godmother, Funke Akindele, actually mean a lot to me. She (Akindele) would post my content on social media, and leave comments. That kept me going. There were a few others that were supportive, but most of the support came from the people I did not even know.

What was the reaction of your family members when you started creating content on social media?

My family is liberal, and they have been very wonderful. If one tells them (family) that one wants to do something, they would let one test the waters to see if it is truly what one wants to do, while giving the necessary support.

There was never a time any of my family members questioned my decision to go into content creation. Right from when I was a child, I have always loved to entertain people. I initially did not tell my family members when I started, until they started seeing it online, and they encouraged me to keep it up. My mum is one of my biggest supporters.

Who are some of the people that inspired you to become a content creator?

I don’t want to take it from the content creator part alone. I also want to include people that inspired me to discover my talent in the first place, and that is my mum.

My mother is a very hilarious person, and while growing up, she was often the master of ceremonies at different events. I loved what she did, especially with the way people always wanted her at their events. That was my first inspiration. However, when I became a creator, people that inspired and motivated me included Funke Akindele and Tyler Perry (American actor and filmmaker), as well as many other creatives. I could have taken a white-collar job, but my mum inspired me to choose my talent. She always told me not to hide my God-given talent.

What were some of the challenges you faced when you started?

I won’t call them challenges; I saw them as hurdles or bridges I had to cross to get to the next level. When I started, the major hurdle was that there wasn’t much audience and engagement? At that point, it felt like I was not doing it for the people but to fulfill the promise I made to myself. It is not the people factor that should determine what one does with one’s creativity. One has to take charge, because if one lets the people factor take control, that means when there are not many people engaging with one’s content, one would be discouraged. If one takes control, one wouldn’t care if it is just five people viewing one’s content.

Aside from that, being a content creator means that one has to constantly evolve. One has to constantly create content, be consistent and set one’s priorities.

One of the challenges I am facing now is the time factor— how to maximise and utilise my time in a way that it won’t affect my personal life.

How were you able to deal with those challenges?

I made sure I was not doing it (content creation) for the audience; it had to be for a purpose. When one tells oneself that one wants to do something and one won’t let anything stop one, not even low viewership, one would remain determined.

I have also been able to set a scale of preference for myself. That was how I faced those challenge and was able to conquer them.

What particular skit brought you to the limelight?

Before I started playing the Mama Deola character, I was already putting out some contents. There was a time I was doing ‘reaction videos’. The first content that got me some buzz was a video I did for an Indian movie, which went viral. A lot of blogs posted it, and it got me 40,000 followers on Instagram. When I started playing the Mama Deola character, things went to another level; moving from one to 10.

How do you deal with criticisms?

I don’t get criticism from people. I think the people that interact with my content are those who love what I do. If out of 10,000 people that love my content, one person says something different, that wouldn’t get to me, because I know more people love my content. That is what matters to me.

What are the major highlights of your career?

There was a time that YouTube had an event, and I was invited. When I got there, I was seated and I saw Sola Sobowale and Shaffy Bello. They called me, telling me that they loved what I do, and that I often made them laugh. They were even talking about some of the characters I had created. That meant a lot to me, because it was coming from legends in the entertainment industry.

There was another time that Mo Abudu contacted me on Instagram, and posted my content on her page. She said I was doing a good job. I felt that for people like that to be seeing my work and commenting the way they do, that means I am doing something right. That brought joy to my heart, and it gave me the encouragement I needed to do more.

What are your other areas of interest?

Aside from content creation, I would love to go into writing scripts for movies or documentaries, because I am very creative when it comes to narrating stories. I also hope to produce my own movie. I have plans of going to a film school. I want to become a mainstream actor.

Other things I would love to do include education (getting a Master’s degree and doctorate). I really love education. I have been away from school for about four years, and I miss it. If I want to do something else, I will go into the education sector and become a lecturer.

What are some of the opportunities content creation has given you?

It has allowed me to explore my creativity, because when one knows that one has something tangible to do, one would look for what else one can offer. It allows me to dive deeper into my well of creativity, and that is something I appreciate. It has allowed me to make money, and meet different people, including fans, politicians and entertainers. There are a wide range of people that love Mama Deola’s character, and this has allowed me to interact with people that could help in making my dreams come true. It has allowed me to showcase myself.

In the course of your career, have you ever made any decision that you regret?

No. God has not allowed me to make any decision that I regret. By God’s grace, I won’t make any decision I would regret.

What advice do you have for young people who look up to you as a role model?

They should be consistent. Keep showing up and making appearances. Just do your part, and be creative in your content creation.

Rome was not built in a day, so you have to be ready to go through the process. Don’t expect it to come easy, because good things don’t come easy.

Also, don’t be all about the money, and don’t rush into things. Rather, take your time.

How do you like to dress?

I like to dress comfortably. I am a fashionable person, and I make sure that for any event I am invited to, I look my best.

What is your favourite meal?

I don’t have a favourite meal. I can eat any meal that is well prepared, delicious and healthy.

How do you unwind?

I hang out with my friends. I also love to attend events.

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