From gaining notoriety as one of Nigeria’s topmost online content creators playing a series of remarkably engaging characters in high quality short comedy dramas, (the most notable being “Daddy Wa”, an affluent, happy-go-not-so-lucky philandering family man), to bagging an arrest and brutal torture in the hands of the Nigerian Police for his activism involvement in the infamous EndSARS protest in the country against, ironically, police brutality and bad governance; to gracing the silver screen in a number of box office success flicks as a fulfillment of his childhood dreams, Debo “Mr. Macaroni” Adedayo can be respected as a man who has seen it all, if that can be said of anyone at 29.
Born in Lagos, Nigeria in May 1993 to parents who originated from Ogun, Adedayo went on an eventful route growing up, attending several tertiary institutions before his eventual graduation bagging a Theatre Arts degree at the Redeemer’s University.
Years behind the scenes often taking acting roles as insignificant extras to the point of almost giving up on his acting dream altogether has done Adedayo a world of good in hindsight, as these days, he flawlessly radiates on and off screen either as “Daddy Wa”, “Professor Hardlife”, “Bayowa” in Ayinla, Debo at the EndSARS protests and with social media commentaries, or simply as Mr. Macaroni, the multi-faceted man and ambassador to a number of prosperous brands, who as the whole world over can see, is doing well.
Mr Macaroni had a sit with Moses Adeyemo of Simple TV / Magazine, to give a rich discourse into his life, career, experiences, insights and goals
If you had to define Debo not Daddy WA, what will your adjectives be?
Debo is a good boy, I like saying that a lot. Cool, calm, intentional, very intentional and hopeful.
I believe that there are vast opportunities that we can always tap from, as long as we draw breath, there is hope.
You must love macaroni for you to choose as a brand name?
Well, I like macaroni but that’s not how the name came about, I was on set between 2010 and 2012 because that period was the period of auditions for me and me really trying to find my feet in the entertainment industry, that time I used to get roles, but as extras, I am the one to sell puff-puff to the lead actor, or fanning the king, or part of a large crowd. I was on a set, on face to face that time, the popular sitcom, I’m sure a lot of people know face to face, it was as an extra then, I believe any role I was opportune to be in I should deliver my best, whether it’s a scene or I don’t say anything my expressions are always there and then the director liked how I was interpreting the role at the time and he looked at me and said “I like this boy o, it’s like we will create more scenes for him, oya you give yourself a name” he was talking to me, I was shocked, like what do I say now, then I remembered the ‘Mr Macaroni riding on a bicycle song’ and I said Mr Macaroni, and everyone looked at me, and he said okay. Since that time I started calling myself Mr Macaroni.
What’s your favourite combo of macaroni?
My favourite combo, Korex made it for me one time, macaroni and jollof rice. Korex is a great cook, he is a lot of things, he is extraordinarily talented but you need to taste his food. He did that with macaroni and jollof rice with salad, turkey – that has to be delicious you people should go try it at home.
The acting was always a part of you before you created a brand out of comedy and then added your voice to the fight for justice through activism. Which of the three gives you the most fulfillment of purpose?
Two are actually one, acting and content creation, pardon me I don’t really like to call myself a comedian, I know that sometimes or most times because of my own line characters I invoke laughter, and trust me when I started I was equally shocked that I could create characters to invoke laughter. I have never been one to intentionally want to create comedy because as a thespian, I studied theater arts in school, any moment I get to say this I always say I was trained by the very best, the greatest, Professor Ahmed Yerima, former director general of the national theater, former artistic director of the national troop, former director general of the Abuja carnival, the 3 star general, as a thespian in school, I was many things, I played a lot of roles, but they were always serious roles, maybe the king or a warrior, all lead characters, I did one or two comedy but people knew when they wanted the lead character, the main character with so much action is Debo they will cast for it.
When I started content creation (out of depression,) and I saw that I could make people laugh, so when people started calling me a comedian, I always reminded myself that I’m an actor first, that’s why I like to say the two are one, because even when I’m creating the content now, it’s still acting to me, I’m just in another character, and I’m delivering what I feel that character is, in my head.
For activism, na people they call me activist, I don’t call myself an activist because I don’t intentionally set out to be an activist, I’m very intentional about the things I do, there are some things that I have mapped about my life, how I want to do things, what I’ve now come to realize is, in the course of doing these things, people tend to create a name for it in their own word which is totally fine but I am constantly reminded of my purpose, of the kind of person I am, and the kind of person I want to continue to be. Activism was born out of that, out of my personality, out of the person that I am, I hate injustice. I like to speak up when I feel oppressed or I feel intimidated or I see people around me being victimised and cannot speak up for themselves. I like to speak, the activism part is a function of the principles that I live by, the kind of person I am, and acting, content creation is just my talent, just what I love to do and I will continue to do that, I don’t think I can stop doing it.
Will you say life made you an actor?
I think yes, because as early as age 7, I had started mimicking Pastor Chris Oyakhilome. We watched a lot of his preaching on TV, you know he is very charismatic, I loved watching him. For every movie that I saw at that time, the next day you will find me acting like the characters I loved in the movie. That was when I discovered that I had a thing for mimicking people, my teachers, my parents, and even my siblings. I will just be acting the way they are normally – and they will always say it seems this child wants to be an actor. That was the process.
What do you consider before you take an acting role?
The character. Those days of auditioning, give me any role at all, I will do. Those were the days of desperation, wanting people to see my talent, wanting them to see what I can do. Now, before I work on the film, I need to see your script, I cannot just say I will come on your set when I have not checked the script. I will look out for the character, once it carries any semblance to my online character, best believe, I’m not going to accept it. I believe people already see too much of that. Just go to my social media platform, you will see me as “Daddy Wa,” or “Professor Hardlife,” or “Debo,” – a young guy doing different things. I think you already have that for free.
When I want to do a film that will be shown in cinemas or other platforms, I look at the character, how significant the character, how can I bring it to life, because there are some characters that no matter how it looks, you’ll look at it and say I can’t take this. Of course, I should be able to do every role but there are some roles I can’t because the actor, which is me, and the character that I will play in the particular project have to be one for the process of drama to be complete. So, if Debo the actor is not one with the character, if I cannot relate with it, or the character is not something I can bring to life because some part of me will not let me do it, then I might not be able to accept it. Those are the things I look out for.
Which of your characters has been most challenging?
For me, every new role is a challenge because it has to be totally different from the other role. Not just about my online characters, but the other roles I have done in a film. So, I have to find a new way to bring each character to life – different from the other projects. I see every new project as a challenge, and I always want to do it in a different way.
Anything about acting that you don’t like?
I think I like everything, except maybe just filming in Nigeria. I’m sure every location has their own challenges. We don’t have a place of our own, a film village for filmmakers, our world – where we can continue to create as we like. So, we have to use the streets (where everyone will be trying to greet you,) when you are in character. Then, some funny folks will come and try to collect money for various funny reasons. The stress that comes with it is immeasurable, but if it has to do with the art of performance in itself, I love it every day.
What is comedy in your own perspective?
Comedy is a form of art that invokes laughter. For the comedic process to be complete, you need to have made the audience genuinely laugh and hat can only happen if all or some parts of your excites them.
In as much as I don’t call myself a comedian, when people call me that, it’s not something to reject. It’s just something to look at that if you go by the definition of what comedy really is, they’ll tell you, yes, you are a comedian because you make people laugh. I think once you can make people laugh, then you are a comedian.
As a prolific content creator, what will you say your creative process is like?
My creative process is wobbly because I’m always stressed; I think I burden myself with a lot of work and Naija Wahala. There is a lot going on in my head and sometimes it affects my creation flow.
Naturally, if I want to write, I like somewhere quiet. I like my time and space to work – most times that’s how I’m able to create. The process can ignite anywhere, at any time but for the process of putting it down, I have to be alone.
Do you do a stick-to-script type of dialogue or monologue or you flow in the moment?
I flow in the moment; if you come to my set, you’d see that you can’t strictly script these things down. What I do is write how it should go, especially when we have brands that we want to create contents for. We have to send them the script so they get an idea of what we want to shoot, so they can tell us what they don’t like because that one is branded. But for our videos, once I’m on set and my co-actors are there, I just outline the story. That way, on the spot I’m saying things the way I want to say because if you script it down the person might be limited to how much they can do and I like for my invited actors to flow in their natural elements so the audience can enjoy them in their own form.
Everyone should have the opportunity to do very well for him or herself. It’s not just about me, it’s about every other talent on the show. It’s better that people just flow; while they are doing that, more things will come to their head.
For me, it’s usually without the script.
What inspires the content you create?
I am inspired by life and society. I always say that society provides basic raw materials for creatives to create their form of art. I am inspired by what I see, what I hear, what I feel, by happenings in everyday life.
As long as man continues to live, there will always be content.
What will you say about the influence of social media on your brand?
Social media has had all the influence, because as I said before, audition today, casting call tomorrow and I got tired – I wasn’t getting the kind of roles I wanted. I thought to myself: “for how long will I continue to get waka pass?” I just got tired, that’s why I picked up content creation for online media, and I saw that it was getting traction.
Before I even started, the likes of Broda Shaggi, Twyse, Craze Clown, Maraji, Taaoma were already doing it. I looked at it like if they are doing it and people know them, love what they are doing, why can’t I also try it.
One of my Professors used to say the world is spinning and we must spin along with the world or else you’ll be left behind. What I simply did was to key in because everyone has a phone, even if it’s not a big phone, a small phone can access most of these. People are looking for entertainment on the go. There is so much pressure already in the society, different things happening, people just want to ease the pressure.
Social media has been a great influence because it’s even from social media that people now love us and that drew the attention of people in the movie industry. Most of the people that are not even stars that I’ve worked with, it was from social media, once I like their acting, I will contact them.
What are some of the challenges in the online content creation industry?
There are lots of people doing different things as I mentioned earlier about people and platforms. For me, what I will tell you is to see yourself as a brand.
I think the challenges will be the abuse of the platform because whatever is good also has what is bad about it. You now find that people abuse the platforms that they have or abuse the traction that they get. The bad thing is when you try out something, maybe you post something nasty, trolling people or you have an account dedicated to doing that, and people engage it and people are liking it, in your mind you feel that will be the way to go about it.
One of the challenges, people using their platform to pass across the wrong messages, or promoting certain things that are not right, these are one or two challenges that I think we all can work on.
Who is your favourite content creator to work with?
Out of all those people, I don’t think so, they are all so beautifully talented, amazing people that I’ve worked with, it will be so difficult to pick. Trust me, I’ve done a lot with a lot of people, and it’s always good.
Who is on your love-to-shoot-with list?
Is there anyone I’ve not made content with? I believe so strongly in the art of collaboration. As a matter of fact, I think when I started late 2019, early 2020, that period, I really took that collaboration thing serious. It was when I started to do that and content creators started to see that collaborating is not so bad because why do we feel we should be so engrossed with ourselves to the point that we cannot collaborate.
I also noticed that these collaborations even do way better because you’re coming together. It’s just like music artistes featuring themselves, and each person already has his fan base, and you’re coming together. People are excited, and you’re not doing it in the art of competition, you’re doing it as collaborators, bringing your A-games respectively simply for the pleasure of the audience.
For me, once I say I need this person and I have a concept I want this person to get on, God has favoured me that much that whoever we reach out to work with, we get to work with.
How do you handle negative comments?
Trust me, they are inevitable because I used to do it before I became a public figure. There was one time they went to bring out some tweets from the past where I abused Wizkid. Even Don Jazzy that gave me money one time, I abused him in the past. Then I was just abusing people on the internet. I was not doing anything. From morning till night, I will be in my room on the phone sending negative comments and have people laughing. People feed off such negative comments, and now being in the public space and being a public figure, when I see comments like that, I now understand how badly it can affect the creatives. It’s okay to criticize but it has to be constructive. You don’t just go about insulting people because it really affects the creative one way or the other.
How I handle things like that is when I put out content and I have series of comments, likes and about 90% are positive comments, I just focus on them instead of focusing on the smaller percentage with negative things to say.
If the criticisms are good and done in good light, I take them. There are a lot of comments from my audience that I’ve used to create content, but when it becomes insulting then it’s not good.
Do you see Debo switching from “Mr Macaroni” and “Daddy Wa” to an entirely new brand in the near future or will those two brands be part of the journey indefinitely?
I don’t think I will stop creating content as Daddy Wa, or Professor HardLife, or Debo, I think I can only add more. I will use Prof HardLife as an example, when I started creating content about that lecturer, the professor, some people said no, even sometimes when I post content about it some people don’t even engage it, they don’t like the character, and some people even if I cough as Daddy WA, they love it.
I know that people will always like different things and that’s why variety is the spice of life. You must always diversify, evolve, what we can just do is continue to create more characters that people will enjoy, that will still be under the brand Mr Macaroni, we will continue giving varieties but won’t deny them of any that they already love.
Do you ever get tired, and what do you do when that happens?
Yes, I get tired, once I open an app, as a creator you have to be on virtually all the social media applications and I have a large following on all of them, and I open one and there’s comments requesting update, that alone is enough to give you energy. Sometimes I just want to take a week break, I just want to be alone. I don’t like travelling, that’s my confession, all the brands that have called us that Mr Macaroni we have work for you here or there, sometimes we use price to chase them away or something, but I am working on that maybe from next year, because I am planning something which we will reveal later.
You have been considered as a voice among the Nigerian youths what effect has this had on your alter ego?
My alter ego being Daddy Wa, Professor HardLife, Mr Macaroni the brand itself, because like I said earlier, the actor himself, and the character or characters always have to blend one way or the other, what I’ve noticed is intentionally I create contents that speak to society, Debo is scripting content that Daddy Wa or Professor HardLife will do that in a way still addresses societal ills in the country, in as much as I as a person will always continue to use my voice to speak up, protest etc., we can also use art as a form of education and societal rejuvenation, that’s what I think I do now, the times we are not on the street protesting or doing interviews blasting anybody I want to blast I use my content to speak to the consciousness of society.
Being someone that has always had problems with authority because you speak truth to power, is there a part of your childhood that spurred this part of you?
No actually. My Dad was a journalist, my mom an educationist, my dad has and still always speaks truth to power, only that he does his with a pen, but for me, I just noticed that from my early years I have always just been like that, if I don’t like something I will say it, you can punish me, but I will say it. Also, my parents allowing me to be, giving me the freedom, they did not shut me up, or negate me from challenging people, they gave us that room, of course they will advise us to express ourselves respectfully but they would never shut us up and that really helped me to develop my confidence, and it boosted my morale in such that whenever I felt there was something wrong, I will speak always. It wasn’t like there was a particular incidence that made me that way; I’ve always just been like that.
What was going through your mind while facing police brutality for your activism in respect to October 20, 2020?
Shame, not for me but for them. I was ashamed and at a point when they were beating me up, and doing all sorts to me, I was initially angry after a while, I felt pity for them because I now looked at this people, they are youths like me, the people that were beating me they are not the leaders that we keep complaining about, or the politicians, they are youths like you and I, they are the same citizens, so I said look the fight is not against you, the fight is for you, what we are trying to do is let the people that have sworn to serve and protect us in government know that you deserve better, but you know of course, like they say, he who pays the piper dictates the tune, and they themselves have refused to see that this is a project for their emancipation, we are saying freedom we want you to be free of slavery, because I looked at it and said ‘no, these guys are enslaved’, because it’s okay that you want to discharge your duties but when you begin to discharge your duties in a way that affects the life of another person especially the one that you have sworn by oath to protect, then you have lost it.
I was just so disappointed and what it did for me moving forward was to harden my heart, before I used to be very nice with words, now I’m not so nice because anytime I remember the way they were slapping me, kicking me, striping me naked, if I want to abuse governor, president, senator, anybody, I abuse you very well. On a more serious note, it just gave me more confidence that if you’ve done this to me, that means the worst you can do one day is to say you want to kill me. That treatment has given me a lot of confidence, and trust me, till the day I die, I will never stop speaking up.
Which human rights will you say are currently most susceptible to threats?
Right to life, right to freedom of expression, right to freedom of movement, right to association. I did a paper on this, and I used endsars as case study, and all of those rights were non existent, it was abominable what the government did, because first you have threatened the right that should be enforced most, which is right to life, there are rare occasions as provided in the constitution where your life might be subject to review based on criminal offenses that you must have committed, punishable by death but then, when people because they have different opinions or because they are demanding for better you now subject their lives to threats, and you want to take their lives, you have not only suppressed their freedom of expression, you are now trying to take away their freedom to live. At a point it wasn’t looking like we were still in the civilian regime, it was looking like military, when you cannot talk, when you say something, you already see that DSS is trailing you, there were different instances.
On those rights, I think the government can do better, criticisms will always come. This is different from maybe as an artiste they are saying you are stupid, your work is this or that, did we even kill anybody for that, not to talk of a government that serves you, a government working for me, I always say that. The problem we have with leadership in Nigeria and maybe other parts of the world is that the leaders do not feel accountable to the people that they serve, what happens is that they are on a high horse, and they feel they are doing the people a favour, but no you are not doing the people a favour by serving them, it is to your honor that the people of Nigeria have chosen you to serve them and which you must do with utmost humility and respect for the lives of the people.
For young talent creators coming up what are your advice to them with the use of social media?
Don’t abuse social media, there is so much power in social media, why not use it for good, instead of abusing it. Abusing it right now might be because you don’t know how best to use it, why not think of how best to use it, rather than just giving up, you can’t afford to give up as a young creator, you don’t even need to be young, anybody can be a creator, as an aspiring content creator you have nothing to lose, just explore – just do different things.
For thespians, I’ve always said that I will do a paper on thespians, there is a thing I call the thespian pride, and you feel you’re beyond some certain things or some certain things are beneath you, just explore and you never can tell.
What I will tell you is keep doing it, you must be doing something, if God’s Grace is going to come to you somewhere in his own place and time, you must be working, and you never can tell, don’t stop, you have nothing to lose.
Take us down memory lane; tell us about growing up?
I grew up at Ojota till I was about 9/10 years of age, before we now move to Magodo. It was fun, I grew up with my siblings, my dad is a Muslim, my mom a Christian, so I tasted both religions, my dad will tell us that if we know our Islamic studies he will give us honey, my mom on the other hand was not as friendly, anytime she sees us doing Islamic teachings or she sees the Islamic teacher, she would drag us to church. When we got to a certain age, we got to decide which one do you want, as for me I chose love, I always say to myself that there are only two religions, the religion of good and religion of evil, you are either good or bad because I practice Islam and what Islam points towards is love, actually all the ten commandments, love is at the center because to stick to those commandments you have to have love in your heart.
Growing up was that way; it was fun, experimenting those religions, playing with all my siblings, learning one or two things from my father, then Magodo, my school.
What is your stance on religion and spirituality?
I believe in the spiritual, in fact a part of me strongly believes in what Shakespeare said about the gods and their subjects, “As flies are to wanton boys, are we to the gods, they kill us for their sport”.
I strongly believe in the spiritual and that there is a control, and if you read series of plays, books, there is that predominance of the spirituality and that realm on the physical and you see the effect transcend. Look at nature, it will be unfair to say that the spiritual does not exist, how life just goes, you wake up at a certain time, you sleep at a certain time, rain will fall, sun will shine, trees, spiritual, but then what is religion? Religion is a system of belief, a system of worship, when people say it’s only Christianity or Islam, or Sango or another, it’s false, you are living in denial, because a Christian will tell you Jesus is the way, truth and the life; just as the Muslim will also tell you the only way is through the Prophet, just as some other will tell you it’s this way or that way. What they are doing is they are telling you their own system of belief, which is the religion, it works for you and that’s fine, I strongly believe that whatever you believe in, as the spiritual is what works for you, if you believe that this is the God you want to worship and that works for you, 100%.
What I always say about religion is do not enforce your own religious beliefs on another.
If you were not famous, what will you be doing?
I will be a lawyer, I did law in my first university Lead City University, the other one I went to, it was still law, before I told them at home, I wasn’t doing law anymore, it’s messing with my head.
I will have been on a lawyer; I love fighting too.
What are the biggest misconception people have of you?
That I love women; it’s a big misconception. Once people see me and I say I don’t like women they never believe. I don’t like women, I am a virgin, in fact they are toasting me, I’m the one saying no.
I’m waiting for the right woman that will deflower me.
What will you say is your ultimate goal?
My ultimate goal in life is to impact in as many lives as possible, I want to live every day of my life knowing fully well that I have done something for at least one person, at least in a day, if I can touch a life per day, I am fulfilled.
Ultimately it will be to create a world where I transfer so much love and the other person transfer so much love and then the world just goes round and round with love. People always say money makes the world go round, I say no, only love can make the world go round, such that God has blessed me such that I’m in this space, but then knowing fully well that it will even be better if more people can benefit and also do better for themselves.
The ultimate goal will be to continue to live a life that is worth living for other people.
You can also watch full interview on Youtube;
Interview by: Moses Adeyemo
Photography: Bolurin Visuals
Camera: Ibrahim Olowolagba & Felix Babalola
Assist: Adetola Adebayo & Alex Edun
Creative Director: Rayo Kasali
Executive Producer Adedamola Edun