For this week’s Katanga spotlight, Gideon Oyeyinka, a correspondent for Indy Press, interviewed Casablanca, a famous social media influencer and content creator. In the course of the interview, they discussed his career, academic experiences and his lifestyle. Enjoy!
Can we meet you?
My name is Okunade, Timilehin Emmanuel, I’m a 300-level student of Urban and Regional Planning of the Faculty of Environmental Design and Management.
What inspired the name “Casablanca”?
Telling you this is even weird; I don’t tell people my real name, but this is official, I have to say it. The name “Casablanca” came from a friend a long time ago and I love to be referred to as that.
What are you known for?
My niche, which has always put food on my table, which has brought me this far, is being into the world of media and entertainment. Well, the name “Casablanca” isn’t really the reason I’m popular, it’s just my niche that makes me popular because I’ve worked for people that don’t even know my name.
Tell us more about this niche of yours.
I am a social media influencer, a content creator and documentary storyteller. I can travel to many places in Nigeria to get many stories and explore, but for now, at least over the past 3 years, people know me for social media influencing. I help small and medium scale entrepreneurs scale up their business. For example, if you are a brand owner and you sell stuff physically in shops or online, once I’m in charge of your brand publicity, I’d make sure I give you that bragging right that you’d always sell, give you the medium with which you’d grow. When it comes to events, I’ve done a lot of PR for so many events I can’t keep up with the number. From events in Ibadan, to Osun State, to Lagos, to Abeokuta, even to Kwara State and then on campus, to within Independence Hall. In fact, for this year alone, I already have a bag full of projects coming up: Triad, Singles’ party, Rainbow Stars Fiesta, The Heat Wave, just to mention a few. Last year, I was part of the publicity team for many events like Trace in the City, Mavins’ Record, MTN and more.
I as well manage personal projects for people, like, if you have an event coming up and you need someone to come up with creative ideas: what to do, how to do, how to approach; your go-to person in terms of creative ideas is me because I’d let you know what you have to do, what and how things should be put in place.
Aside from PR and events management, once in a while, I create content. I did one in December, “Santablanca on Campus,” where I gave to random Uites what I went to the mall to get. They just had to pick a number. I create content once in a while too and I hope to take it more seriously very soon.
I’m also into brand ambassador jobs. I work with so many brands, like, Maltina, Heineken, Malta Guinness, Nigerian Breweries, British American Tobacco, MTN, Jumia, Bold drink and lots more.
How has your life and career as a Uite been so far?
Before I gained admission into the University of Ibadan, I was once a student of Federal Polytechnic, Offa, that was from 2017 – 2019, I did my National Diploma (ND) in Urban and Regional Planning. Then I opted for admission into UI using direct entry and I got admitted.
I have some guys that I work together with, guys that I carry along, sort of hold their hands. Some are Katangites, some from other Halls of Residence. Even among the ladies, I have people from Queens Hall and Idia Hall. Some others stay off campus. I always see that potential in them. They’re lovely and creative people; models, fashionistas, influencers, videographers and so on. I always tell them that when I was a student of Offa Poly, I was trying to build myself, but the difference was very clear on gaining admission into UI, I met people of timber and caliber, very responsible people, people that would keep me on my toes to keep on doing the work I’m doing, people that have helped my career. When I resumed as a Katangite, I met high profile people and told them what I could do, they started networking and connecting me with people that mattered. I’m good at what I do, so it’s spoken for me over time, such that in the city of Ibadan today, I can proudly say that my name can be mentioned on one project or the other, that I get contacted on upcoming events, especially on campus, as someone that is the best man for the job. So, yeah, the difference has been clear, UI has given me that platform to unleash my potential and I’m so grateful.
Academically, what are your experiences as a UI student?
UI is a different ball game entirely. I stay in Independence Hall and my department is at Ajibode, so the schedule of having to wake up early in the morning, take a cab to UI gate, before finally heading towards Ajibode, is stressful enough. On coming back, I’d have been so exhausted, so this routine is something really new to me. Unlike every other person, whose class is somewhat close to their Halls of Residence, I have to travel a far distance.
A change in environment has affected me too. As a direct entry student, now in 300 level, when I joined in 200 level, I felt somehow, thinking that my classmates would see me as being bossy, knowing that I have the experience from my ND days, having the practical edge of what we are being taught in class. I had to come down to everyone’s level. Through God’s way, I inculcated that habit of relating with everybody around me. My classmates are very good people, always there to help me, putting me through on what to do and how to do it.
How have you been able to balance academics and your career?
I’d say it is God’s grace, nevertheless, I try to create a balance, because I see social media influencing, content creation as full time work already. The main purpose of coming to school is to come out with flying colours in my field of study. Despite attending parties, I have this mindset of always going back to my room to read, tidy up one assignment or the other, prepare for an upcoming test and so on. I go into hiding, especially when exams are around the corner. I’m always a changed person, very gentle, because I know that to be a UI student, you have to sit down and read your books.
Let’s talk a little bit about your personal life. What do you do to relax and unwind?
That’s weird! Well, there was a time I was so much in love with football. I don’t play it, I just enjoy watching it every now and then. But then, I lost that flair; the passion is no longer there. I used to support Manchester United when I still had that passion, I think their loss of form added to the reason I lost the passion I had for football, so now, I’m just on my phone. I love to browse, I’m always updated on things happening in Nigeria and the world at large. If you ask me now, I can give you a brief summary of what has been written in different dailies. I think that’s what I do to just unwind, I’ve not really found another thing that’d make me relax.
What is Casablanca’s relationship status at the moment?
I’m currently in a relationship that is just a few weeks old.
What would you like to tell an up and coming prospect in your field of media and entertainment and social media influencing?
My best advice is to stay off negativity, like I always tell my people. Don’t be a social media influencer that will be known for negativity. Many people view your WhatsApp Status, see you as a role model, trying to live the same life that you’re living, so whatever you put on display is what they might want to do. Avoid competition and be open to collaboration. It helps a lot.
As a social media influencer, don’t stay in your room and expect a miracle to happen, it will never come to you. You must be an outsider. I’m not saying you should go outside the city of Ibadan or somewhere far, but at least, you should have the ability to meet people, tell them the stuff you’re made of and let them see that you’re capable of doing what you say you do. Don’t rush either, trust the process. Be aware that Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Thank you so much for speaking with Indy Press.
It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me.