Temi Otedola rises early. The 26-year-old Nigerian style icon, YouTuber, fashion influencer, and most recently, actor, usually starts her day at 6 AM. If she’s in London, she’ll stroll through her neighborhood. She attends a spin class at Victoria Island, a wealthy section of the city, when she is in Lagos, her second home, to increase her energy.
This kind of established pattern is how most of her days go. She confesses, “I’m super, super, super routined,” in a recent Zoom interview from her London home. Breakfast, meetings with her team, and lunch are all scheduled at precise intervals. The creation of content and reviewing brand contracts are typically done in the afternoon. There are currently scripts to consider, auditions to go to, and Zoom meetings with directors to attend as a result of her most recent acting endeavor—starring in the Netflix Original Citation and 2022 crime-drama The Man For The Job.
Otedola says, her voice chirpy and bright, accented with the cosmopolitan nature of someone who calls various places around the world home, “I feel calm when I’m on top of everything.” Otedola recently returned from a vacation in Spain with her fiancé, the Afrobeats musician Mr. Eazi. She arrived in the UK over a week ago, where she plans to stay until the beginning of 2023 before returning to Nigeria. It’s safe to say Otedola has a lot going on right now since she completely unplugged from work over the course of her vacation.
Otedola has succeeded in creating a distinctive, carefully curated, but ultimately wholesome brand for herself in the world of Nigerian influencers. When compared to her more outgoing and experimental celebrity DJ sister, DJ Cuppy, Otedola puts on a more private act, sharing only those aspects of her life that she believes help to maintain her effortlessly glam and carefully curated image.
Temi Otedola is the billionaire Femi Otedola’s daughter, and she first entered the fashion world as a fashion blogger back when Instagram was just starting to gain popularity. Otedola couldn’t find any African fashion bloggers to follow at the time, despite the fact that she has always loved fashion and considers her mother to be her biggest source of style inspiration due to her ability to always find the most flattering clothing wherever she went. It was only natural for her to step into those shoes. “I was observing these fashion weeks happening all over the world. And I wondered, “Why isn’t there any representation of Africa at these fashion weeks?” Therefore, I [thought] it’d be incredible to occupy that space,” she says.
Otedola found the transition easy when blogs started to fade away and fans flocked to Instagram, where a brief caption and a carousel of images would do just fine and reach even more people. Her objective, however, remained the same: to maintain her position as one of Africa’s leading voices in fashion. Otedola has developed and maintained strong relationships with indigenous fashion brands over the years, from the gender-bending Orange Culture to designers Lisa Folawiyo and Andrea Iyamah. The two collaborated on a capsule collection in 2019.
Otedola stands out in the larger Nigerian community of fashion influencers thanks to her soft-glam, clean-girl aesthetic that emphasizes individuality, minimalism, and style.
I don’t really feel like I have a particular style, but I think I tend to favor very simple looks, she says. “I prefer to believe it is timeless. I’m not attempting to follow every fashion. I simply like to be at ease, take a few chances, and keep things clean and enjoyable. Otedola is attempting to tap into a more impulsive side of herself through acting, which will give her the freedom to discover fresh creative terrain. To some extent, she had no plan for how she ended up in acting, a field she had never considered.
Since I was nine or ten years old, I’ve been a huge fan of movies, whether they were old Nollywood movies, black-and-white movies, or classics. I place a lot of value on directors and cinema as an art form. However, I felt as though I hadn’t done it since I was a child, similar to performing in school plays, so I assumed I would never enter it.
But eventually, she says, “I was just thinking about my future.” And when I’m in my 30s or 40s, I may not necessarily want to be a social media influencer. What do I really want to do going forward? “You know, Temi, you could actually try this acting thing,” I said. I feel like a new era is beginning, especially with all the amazing new directors coming from Nollywood. I was really excited to take part in that.
Otedola approached the renowned Nigerian filmmaker Kunle Afolayan at a premiere for one of his movies and asked to meet him. “Well, I’ve been writing this movie for a while, he said. The main character is actually a young woman in her 20s. You’re not an actor, though. I was like, “Okay, let me try out,” she remembers. That was actually how it began, but it took many months of auditioning.
In Afolayan’s compelling novel Citation, about a young university student who is groomed and eventually assaulted by her lecturer—and who must appear before a school tribunal in an effort to clear her name and hold the lecturer accountable—that chance encounter would land her the role of Moremi.
The movie, which was released in 2020, is one of the few Nollywood works with a forward-thinking and upbeat perspective on women receiving justice after experiencing sexual assault. When Nigerian universities were coming to terms with their long-standing history of lecturers pressuring young students into having relationships with them for good grades, citations highlighted the gravity and unequal power dynamics between professors and students. The story’s relevance helped the actress become even more famous. People still come up to me today to express how much hope they got from the movie, according to Otedola.
Otedola currently has a ton of projects in the works, including roles in several other high-profile Nollywood productions that she is unable to discuss in detail. In terms of her professional objectives, the actress hopes to eventually produce and appear in Nigerian narratives that advance the viewpoint of women.
She claims that there have been numerous women in Nigerian history whose stories have not been told. “There are many documentaries about Fela, but Funmilayo Ransom-Kuti hasn’t been the subject of a biopic, to my knowledge. It would be amazing to even help with the production and get that made.
Otedola is without a doubt willing to gravitate toward the things that challenge her the most, despite the fact that she didn’t always have a clear idea of what she wanted to do when she grew up. “I don’t think the creative world has any rules; you can experiment with different things. She jokes, “Perhaps I’ll start singing. “In the end, it’s better to try and fail than to never try. As long as there is passion, I’m open to anything.