I want to have an impact on people’s lives – Tabia Princewill
Tabia holds a B.Sc. in Journalism from the Sorbonne University and an M.Sc. in Comparative Politics from the London School of Economics.Growing up literally in the NTA newsroom, Tabia linked her early start in journalism to her admiration for her mother’s job. Although writing is her first love, she soon discovered that a lot of Nigerians are easily influenced by what they see on television, a thought which I want to have an impact on people’s lives – Tabia Princewill Tabia Princewill gave birth to ‘Walk The Talk’, a talk show on TV. The programme focuses on reaching a wide audience while providing a means of expression for the new talk show. For Tabia, a former editor of ‘Guardian Life’ magazine and now Executive Producer of ‘Walk the Talk’, the show is dedicated to promoting positive mindsets with intent to use its upbeat,personally affirming message to inspire the lifestyle of everyday Nigerians.
What is the idea behind the talk show?
‘Walk the Talk’ is something that I and my sister decided to work on because of all that we see around us. We are a family that talk to each other a lot; about things that we see on daily basis; social issues in the country and the world in general. We asked if this is how things have always been and the answer we got is ‘no’. How then did we get to this point? Why are we where we are and how do we get out? These are some questions that require answers.
What are the issues treated on the show?
The show is basically about life issues. We engage our guests and viewers to see how we all can come together, make a difference and make our Nigeria a better society. We do it in a fun and lively way but it still sends the message.
In one of our shows, we had Adeola Habib who is deputy MD of a bank and she talked about what it takes for a modern woman to be effective both at work and at home. We also had an episode that centred on who is a man, what are the societal expectations of a man?
We have this problem in Nigeria where young women see men as their meal ticket rather than a companion. In relationships, in Nigeria generally, there is a strong financial outlook attached to it which shouldn’t be. Like in other countries, you don’t get married because you want to improve; you get married because this is someone you really want to be with. We had a female guest who was very vocal because she thinks marriage is a very unfair institution to women; which is very unlike most Nigerian views. She commented on that because she has once been married and shared why things didn’t work out. So we don’t do the expected. We have guests on the show who say it as it is.
We also had Jumoke Adenowo, who is very Christian and traditional in terms of her views on marriage. So, the topics are usually life issues but we have guests who give it a personal point of view and not be afraid to say this is what I stand for. We create a balance which is quite different from shows and programmes where people pretend to be perfect; whereas no single person has a perfect life.
These are the basis of selection of guests; those who have something positive to share with our viewers based on real life experiences.
How many episodes have you recorded and what has the feedback been like?
We have had about ten episodes for this season. The feedback has been amazing in the sense that people say it is different from regular talk shows that are out there. We hear people saying they can’t believe we could actually talk about a certain topic.
For instance, we had a topic where we talked about social media and we had a guest from a popular social media blog who came to talk about how everyone online wants to look better than what they actually are in reality and how we can use the online platform in a positive way.
From the responses we get, it shows that people really enjoy each episode of the show. Most of the questions we raise are the questions people raise in their bedrooms and private areas; we ask ourselves but nobody speaks out in the open. The response has been very fantastic. We have been able to inspire our viewers by talking about issues that affect us all.
Before now, you were the editor of ‘Guardian Life’. What was the experience like for you?
The experience as editor at ‘Guardian Life’ was okay; print has always been my first love. Writing is what I love doing ever since I was in secondary school. I wrote for different magazines but moving from print to broadcast is equally an adventure for me.
You both decided to follow your mother’s footsteps. Did she influence this direction?
Definitely. But it was subconsciously. It is not something she said, that I should become a broadcaster. I naturally grew up liking it. Because we grew up in a house where we read a lot of books, features that my mom groomed in us were media related.
It was a personal choice based on watching her as a broadcaster because I grew up basically in the NTA newsroom. I grew up watching her do her thing; even before I knew what editing was, I knew how it was done. It was a very natural progression for me.
Did your mother’s fame have any impact on you, in terms of how people related with you?
No. One thing about our mother is that she is a levelheaded person and really humble. In fact, the only time I realised she was famous was when we went out and people walk up to her to acknowledge her presence; take photos with her and all that. So, obviously, from a young age, I realised that my mother is somebody that people look up to, they know her.
I won’t say it influenced me or that it had any impact on me, because she protected us a lot from that. She always made us know that we should not lose ourselves to fame.
You might have a high powered job, fine; but you are still an individual. You are still Tabia. This is you and that is your job. When you come home, you are no longer that public person and you have to be level-headed. She raised us to be that. Which is why when my friends watch my mother and talk about ‘Newsline’, I take it naturally; like it’s nothing because she raised me like that. She is humble and I couldn’t have grown up to be saying my mum does this or that.
How do you relate with your mum? Is it like friends or strictly mother to daughter?
It is more than mom-daughter relationship. When I was growing up, if I went somewhere and came back, I want to stop by my mummy’s room and gist her about it because I knew she would have something funny to say or she will tell about when she was younger; how things were. We definitely have that friendly relationship and we gist a lot and people always joke about that; that if you see Kehinde Young-Harry, in less than five minutes, you will see her two daughters somewhere around her because we go out together. That is how we are. We are honest to each other and we are friends.
It’s the same thing with my sister despite the age difference. We relate on every level you can imagine. People actually call us the three musketeers.
You are actually very young. You were once the editor of ‘Guardian Life’ and now you are presenting a TV show. How do you feel when people say young people do not have anything to offer?
It is really a wrong statement to make, because one thing I know is that young Nigerians are not given the opportunity to actually show what they can do. I am not saying that every 25-year-old has what it takes to do this or that; the same way every 55-year-old would or might not have what it takes to do this or that. For me, it is not about age. It is what you can bring to the table. For instance, in Sweden, they have ministers who are 30-35 years old and nobody there thinks anything is wrong with it.
There is a screening process that ensures that they can handle the position but in Nigeria, it is diferent. The system is constructed in such a way that you can’t get through except you know someone very high, who can introduce you. That is the only way you can get there. This is unfortunate because there are so many talents in this country, in different industries who in spite of their age, could be doing amazing things but
because they don’t have access to funding and so many other things that could lift them…
Do you want to tell me that America’s young people are more intelligent than Nigeria’s young people? They are the same. How come you can find a 28-year-old running a business successfully in America, even a 21-year-old? It is very unfortunate because I know that young people in this country can do amazing things but they are not given the opportunity to even show that they can.
Personally what drives you?
I think a mixture of things. The first thing is that I want to make the people around me proud. When people mention my name, I want them to say that is my daughter; that is my sister. My mom taught us about reputation; your good name you have in this society. That nobody can attach anything scandalous, they can’t say you did wrong, that is what drives me really. I want to be successful and make a name for myself, through hard work and honesty. I like people to see me and say to themselves, if she could do it, I can do it. I have good examples around me. If there is one thing I would love to do, it is to ensure that when people see me, they can say this person has values that they would love to emulate.
Finally, how far do you intend to take the show?
Definitely, it is going to continue but it is a gradual process. This is the kind of show that ideally people should be watching every week on a continuous basis, season after season because we don’t have enough opportunities in the media industry in Nigeria to talk about things that positively impact the lives of people.
I am a girly girl. I love to look good, love massage, love make-up but there should be more to life than just that, especially as a woman. We like to reduce ourselves to the superficial level of life. As a woman, it doesn’t mean that that is all you can offer. Again, that is what the show is about; showing strong women who are doing well and talking about how they made it.
How do you take time out to relax? I read a lot.
What are you reading now?
The funny thing is that I read different books at the same time, depending on my mood. Now, I am reading a book titled “How Time Suits You”. The author is from Ghana. I love autobiographies by famous men and women who stood for something great in their country, even at a very high cost; she lost everything and even her children don’t want to have anything to do with her.
Also, I love novels. I love literature. I am actually reading Jim Austin again.
Apart from your show, what is your eventual dream for life?
By God’s grace, I want to go into politics. There is not enough sincerity in Nigerian politics. People see it as a way, first of all, to make money and because we enjoy sycophancy, people do all sorts of things in politics.
For me, that is not what it is about. I want to have an impact on people’s lives; it is pretty much the same thing to lift
Nigerian women up.