Steve Onu aka Yaw, a native of Awka in Anambra State, was born and bred in Lagos as the seventh of ten children of his parents. He is at present an On-Air Personality at 95.1 Wazobia FM. Yaw is versatile. He is one person that is an embodiment of many things: actor, producer, presenter and Master of Ceremony. Yaw read Theatre Arts at the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojoo and also holds a diploma in Radio, TV and Film Production. He was the brain behind many successful shows like the popular Tattoo Beach Party he staged at the famous Oniru Beach and Groove and Giggle Event at the University of Lagos. Yaw has so far produced four major stage plays: Po!, Private Lies, Last Molue and April Fool. And he has just concluded his personal television sitcom, YAWS N MYN, which is at present on air in Nigeria, Africa and United Kingdom…
For me, it is just entertainment all the way. Been a theatre artist, you must learn to be versatile, to do different things. A lot of people always say you must have a little knowledge of everything as an artist. For me, I think it is just that easy for me, because I think they are all interwoven. Acting, while ‘am talking on radio I am also doing radio acting. When I am on stage ‘am trying to mimic, to talk. I think it is all interwoven. I tell people that if you say you study Theatre Art and you don’t have a job, may be you are just a lazy person. Yes, to me because the opportunities are endless, except you don’t want to bring out that thing in you. Some decide to be writers; some decide to be directors, different things to choose from. Some even learn set designing; that is a little bit of carpentry work, which means they can do carpentry work. So if you say you are studying to be a scriptwriter, there is no way there won’t be things for you to do. For me, it is just a way of life and ‘am living it.
Have you always wanted to be a comedian?
Yes. Next year will be my 20th year in showbiz. I started first with normal home video, films. Before I got to know, from home video it started to grow. For me, I discovered that I had it inside of me; entertainment was just a part of me. So I chased it up from time, it might not be early enough, but at least at a stage I did and ‘am not regretting all those things I did.
If you take a trip down memory lane, would you say everything is working according to plan?
No it’s not so. Because for example, before now I thought I was going to be more popular doing TV. Yes, I was popular doing Flat mates, but it’s not like I am doing radio. So it’s not the same thing. Yes, it doesn’t always work out as one plans but at the same time it’s just for you to just stay focus and then know where you are going to and all that. It might take time but it will come, that is just it for me.
What are some of the survival strategies of Yaw?
Strategies? It’s just being me. I live all my life for showbiz. If am not doing radio, I will definitely be cooking up a production, cooking up something. I have got no choice, because I have lots of stream of income, other streams of income it is easier for me to sit down and just think. Somebody said that, you complain you don’t have talent, it’s because you are not hungry yet, when you are hungry, the talent will come out. You know when you pass through certain things, you will sit down and be telling yourself ‘I go fit do this thing na’. Someone was telling me, fake it until you make it, and when you start to fake it, gradually one day you will make it, that just it.
For me, in life I don’t see challenges, I always see opportunities, because what you call challenges, by the time you surpass it you have grown better than the day before. I don’t know if you get me? If I tell you now that you can’t jump a high place, it will be difficult for you to jump it, and then you are looking at it all of a sudden you jump it. Tomorrow you will not want to jump that again; you will want to jump higher because you have been able to overcome this one. So is not a challenge to me but an opportunity, opportunity to say yes, this thing I can do it, that is it for me. Even while trying to do the home video thing those days, and I was doing all my trekking I was moving from one place to the other and all that. I just saw it as, ‘men this is just because I know am going somewhere,’ where am going to I don’t know, but definitely I know am going somewhere and till I get there I am n’t going to relent and till now ‘am definitely not going to relent.
What is the highest point of your career thus far?
I don’t know about that because for every level one gets to I believe that is the highest. The first time I appeared on TV, I believed that was the highest point for me. The first time I mounted the stage at the Muson Center, I believed again that was the highest. The first time I travelled down to London, I felt that was the highest. The first time I did Twilight Zone, Flat mate, I told myself, “yes this is the highest”. The first time I did an home video, that was the highest. When I was called to come and lift up the Olympic Torch, I told myself that was the highest. They chose 7000 people in the whole world, I was one of them, I felt that was the highest. The first day I started working with Wazobia FM, that was the highest. I have over 45/50 awards, for every point in time I get this award I use to tell myself yes ‘am still on top, so I don’t know. I did a show recently at Eko Hotel and I felt, this was the highest. So for me, I don’t think I have seen the highest so far. But for every level I achieve, I give glory to God.
Lobby? No. I do get a call from the company like MTN ambassador, Lekki Garden ambassador. I don’t lobby for any of them; it was God’s might at work. I was called to become their ambassador, likewise the Olympic Torch I was called while I was in my office to come and lift the Olympic Torch 2010 and I believe more are still coming. With God all things are possible.
Best TV Actor, yes that was Opal Williams. I think people voted; Opal Williams organised the comedy award and people voted for me. I think it was more from votes and even from radio too. If they say ‘am the best radio presenter, I don’t know it’s the people, if the people think so. I know a few people that I love and respect a lot in the industry and I love to also listen to them, but if people’s choice is me, who ‘am I to say no.
The comedy industry in Nigeria is growing thanks to the commendable work of some pioneers like you. But most of the “New breeds” now recycle same old jokes, how do you feel about this development?
No, you can’t run away from that; it happens. There is piracy everywhere; they copy people’s books, scripts, songs etc. I don’t think anything is new but I just want to say it’s not also easy creating jokes. But I will say people should just try to do their jokes. Some comedians I know actually get angry when they hear people cracking their jokes. I might not have so much but I just talk on things that happen around, things I can see and those are what I joke about. But for all comedians, it is not easy cracking jokes, even some of the best comedians that we have in Nigeria watch a lot of foreign jokes and they translate it to Nigeria setting. So it happens. But I just think that if you are making use of someone’s joke, give the person credit and secondly try to be creative. And don’t spoil the person’s joke, so the person will not say you spoilt it. But I don’t think it’s right anyway.
Are you interested in going into politics
No I don’t, but I don’t mind a political post because it’s different from going to contest. So I don’t think I can go into politics