Zainab Balogun just happens to be one of those people who fill a room with their presence. Born and raised in London, the model turned TV Presenter moved back to Nigeria a few years ago and has been consistently climbing higher and higher in the Nigerian entertainment industry.
At FAB we got to have a chat with the amicable young lady and it really was much of “catching up between two people” than it was an interview. In between boisterous laughter and inside jokes, Zainab spoke about her experiences being a TV presenter (the good and the bad), the future, her ideal man and so much more.
She has made her mark locally and internationally having worked on global campaigns in New york and elegantly walked the runway of The New york Fashion Week. She has graced the covers of well-respected magazines like Pride, Spell, True love, Black Hair & Beauty and Eso magazines to just mention a few.
Now a co-host on (DSTV Channel 165) Ebony Life TV’s “The Spot” with Lamide Akintobi and Ebuka Obi-Uchendu was introduced to modeling at the age of 16 so it is no wonder that she is a natural on TV. Zainab Balogun is a Nigerian talent whose physical beauty is matched by her creative mind and her ability to rise to any occasion. Her energy is amazing with her cutting through her own thoughts and words faster and more excited than she could verbalize. She is not your average type of girl and you just have to read the interview to believe it.
ZB: I had actually started a web series with a friend of mine in London, a weekly entertainment web series, and then we decided to come to Nigeria together and bring that idea here. A few things happened after that, I started auditioning for some acting roles as well as some TV presenting roles and fortunately they actually gave me the job. Ebony Life TV offered me both presenting and acting but I decided to go solely for the TV work for now, I’m still definitely an actress trying to balance both.
FAB: Last year you won an award “TV Presenter of The Year” at ELOY Awards 2013, how did that make you feel?
ZB: It was so strange, because I hadn’t been on TV for a year when I won that and I was nominated alongside all of these amazing people who had been doing it for so long – So I didn’t understand who, where, whichever person that thought let’s put Zainab in there. I don’t know what happened, but it was a great feeling – Very very great feeling.
FAB: Growing up did you always want to be a Presenter?
ZB: Nope! I wanted to – my mum asked me what I wanted to be when we were actually sitting in London, like in the business district, and there were all of these tall buildings and I said to her “I wanna work in one of those buildings, I wanna be a lawyer – I just wanna work in one of those fancy buildings”. So law was what I wanted to do, I wanted to be an entertainment lawyer and the creative side was always there but it’s like somebody just drew it out and then I just tapped into it and left the legal side somewhere, hanging. Which I may pick up at some point.
FAB: Ok. What have been some of your best moments on TV?
ZB: My best moments on TV so far will have to be with ‘The Spot’ because it’s so different we get to have so much fun. I mean, we mess around, we laugh, we fall over, we play games – it’s fun, that’s what the show is all about. Another memorable moment will have to be when the channel actually launched so watching me on TV for the first time was a very strange but great feeling.
FAB: So who has been the best guest on ‘The Spot’ for you?
ZB: Best guest on ‘The Spot’ so far, do I just have to have one?
FAB: No you can have as many
ZB: Ok, Denrele was a handful but he was great to have. Then Ik Osakioduwa was so funny. Who else have we had that has been great? We’ve had Chayla Shagaya, who was, I mean she’s just beauty and regal all over. Most of our guests are pretty amazing; they come in to bring something different, everybody has something else to offer.
FAB: Do you follow a particular script on ‘The Spot’?
ZB: No ‘The Spot’ is pretty much unscripted. What we have is, we have all these discussion points so the most we have is just a reminder of “Hey, you need to talk about XYZ”, but everything else is off the top of our head.
FAB: Moving to fashion, what is your ideal outfit?
ZB: I like comfort sometimes especially when I’m going out. When I’m doing red carpet or whatever that’s when I’d like to have a lot of fun – but on my day-to-day it’s always either some jeans and a cute top or just like a shift dress, I love shift dresses. So I’m pretty easy unless if it’s on the red carpet.
FAB: You’ve been spotted a couple of times wearing Nigerian fashion brand Clan, is that your favourite designer?
ZB: *laughs* Clan is one of my favourite designers, I just love how creative they are I love how feminine they are too. Everything they have is just – and the textures, you don’t see – most of the prints and stuff that they have is very original so I love Clan and another person that I am absolutely obsessed with is Re Bahia, I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing her designs are – you can see my face, like I’m excited just talking about her.
FAB: What’s the oldest item in your closet?
ZB: The oldest item in my closet *thinks awhile* I think it’s a handbag that I used to have whilst I was in Uni like I used to take it and carry it with my books and stuff – like that’s what I remember off the top of my head that’s pretty old.
FAB: Where’s your best place to shop in Nigeria?
ZB: I like a lot of Vintage things so I would say The Retrospective. I like having original things that most people don’t have and they’re a good place to get original vintage pieces from.
FAB: So what’s your personal style like?
ZB: It changes depending on what my mood is like. Sometimes I want to feel really sexy; sometimes I want to be just comfortable and chic. I always want to have an edge to what it is that I wear and luckily enough I don’t have to fuss with hair too much so I get to play around with my outfits.
FAB: Ok, about the hair, you’ve had it for quite a while?
ZB: It’s been about 6, 7 years? Yeah, 6 years.
ZB: I actually cut my hair off because I wanted to grow it back natural, so I shaved it all off and then I liked it, so I never grew it back *laughs* so that’s where I am at now. I’ve been growing it in and out natural, sometimes I’ll shave it all the way down and other times I won’t. But this year I’m all about playing with colours and playing with different styles.
FAB: What projects are you working on? Are you working on anything?
ZB: At the moment most of my time and effort is with Ebony Life TV, not only do I present for the channel I also produce the show that I work on as well as a segment on the channel. I am definitely reading more scripts. I have a few cameos in some projects that are coming up in another TV series that’s starting to shoot in about a month’s time. I’m also an actress on The Island which is another series that is not out yet. I also have a few ideas up my sleeve, some content ideas, as well as just being around and letting the people of Nigeria – I mean Africa – know that I am here and I’m ready to work.
FAB: What are some of the basic things you’ve learnt from presenting?
ZB: The basic thing I’ve learnt is to be ready, be prepared. Research is everything. You need to know what you are talking about and that is definitely one of the useful tips. The viewers don’t really care about your personal life or whether or not you are sad one day – you definitely just have to be upbeat at all times. So I’ve learnt to take everything as easy as it may come.
FAB: What has been the most challenging experience you’ve had so far?
ZB: I would say the early days of Ebony Life TV where you know, you’re trying to put this vision together and you stumble on so many issues, from the standard things that deals with in Lagos – the traffic, the communication issues, people being difficult or really not getting your ideas. So being passionate about something and selling that to somebody who either needs you to have something physical to show them so they can understand it. That was one of the hardest parts but eventually we got there and it’s been worth it.
FAB: You moved back to Nigeria a few years ago, what has that been like for you? Do you regret it?
ZB: There are some days that I do regret it but so far, would I want to be anywhere else, no. I feel like I made the right decision to be here and it’s all off. It’s been very hard it’s not been easy although some people feel like oh, because you’ve come back everything falls on your lap, but definitely not. I’ve had to prove myself to the Nigerian people and they are starting to like a little bit of Zainab which is cool.
FAB: What’s your fashion must-have?
ZB: Fashion must-have is a cute bag. I love bags.
FAB: Fashion don’t?
ZB: Ugh. I don’t know why but I’ve always hated that fabric. It’s just – there’s just something off about it. It’s so slinky, and if it’s not done right it can look so awful.
FAB: Signature smell?
ZB: Right now I am on J’adore, that’s what I use right now but I’m not much a heavy scent person. So long as smell clean and good I’m alright with that.
FAB: Last three items you bought?
ZB: From Dubai actually – I bought some gorgeous fabric, and then I bought one of those traditional dresses that are really long and have a lot of beading and stuff like that which I’m not used to but I decided to give it a try. Apart from that, and then a bikini – those were the last three things I bought that I can remember.
FAB: Can you tell us a surprising fact about you that nobody knows?
ZB: Well I have a habit of picking scabs. Like you know when you are a kid and you fall – yeah I pick scabs. I have a habit of not letting my scars heal and just kind of picking them. It sounds disgusting, but yeah. I shouldn’t have told you that, should I?
FAB: It’s Okay. Who is Zainab when no one is watching?
ZB: She’s a big hot mess. She likes to have so much fun. I’m a pretty easy-going person. When I’m not working I’m either working some more or I am stuffing my face and literally watching movies. That’s what I like to do with my time, so I am very – food is my hobby, so anything that is food related just makes me happy. That’s what I am doing.
FAB: Back to the other question of you moving back, why? What made you move back? There have been cases of people, who move back because they want to get married, they’ve got a boyfriend…was it the whole buzz of being seen in the media, or a move back to Nigeria having a lot to offer? What was it?
ZB: Well it definitely wasn’t about the whole marriage and boyfriend thing because I was single – oh I am still single – *laughs* (FAB: How’d you know we were going to ask you that?) I gave you that one for free. I moved back mainly because I had actually come for about 3 months and I auditioned for a few things and I got a role and the director was like “What are you doing with yourself? Because we are about to start shooting”, and I was like “Uhm, Ok, Well, Yeah I’ll come back” and that was one of the main reasons why I moved back, for that show, and also at the same time I saw that there was a lot of potential in Nigeria. I felt like there was still room for improvement and there were a few things I had learnt over the years that I wanted to bring back with me. Those are my reasons.
ZB: I have no idea. Ask the men. Ask them, I honestly have no idea.
FAB: Who is your ideal type of man?
ZB: I don’t know. I mean, I’ve always said before that I have a little crush on D’Banj, but the energy from D’banj is like just way too much for me. I don’t know – as long as he is smart, has some ambition, religious, and handsome I’m good. But I haven’t found that yet.
FAB: What’s your religion?
ZB: I’m Christian.
FAB: So he has to be Christian?
ZB: Yes please
FAB: Because he can’t be a religious Muslim –
ZB: Uhm, Well, I mean I’ve had a word with the Man upstairs so whatever he sees fit.
FAB: It’s been such a pleasure chatting with you, thank you for your time.
ZB: Thank you too.
To keep up with Zainab Balogun you can:
Follow her on Twitter
Keep up with her on Facebook
Go to her Website
Look out for her on Instagramby