The Labi interview
Play TV presenter and producer Labi Olayori tells Content Nigeria about her life and career, and reveals details of her new celebrity interview series The Other Side.
Labi Olayori, presenter and producer of Play TV’s The Labi Show, formerly known as The LABI (Loving and Being Intimate) Show on TVC, describes herself as “a mother, wife and knowledge enthusiast.”
She tells Content Nigeria about her journey as a presenter and relationship counselor, and her experiences being a brand ambassador for Nigerian cable TV network Play TV.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a Nigerian, a mother, a wife, a next-door-girl. I love to help.
Before The LABI Show on TVC, you presented Entertainment Splash on the same channel.
Before I joined TVC, I worked at a cable network, MCTV. Upon joining TVC, I began Entertainment Splash, which was initially called Lunch Splash.
I found that while presenting Entertainment Splash, most callers would request songs to soothe their broken hearts or troubled minds. That was what spurred me to begin my relationship show again, because I got tired of talking to artistes about their careers when there were so many people with emotional issues who I could help.
Since I started The Labi Show, I’ve interviewed artistes such as Brymo and Chidinma, focusing on their relationship and life outside their careers.
What brought about The Labi Show?
When I was growing up I was always very curious. I would wonder about the attraction between a couple, especially if something looked odd or they seemed unhappy. I discovered there was more to what I saw and I always wanted to know what it was.
The Labi Show is about people with issues; people who want to share their burden with someone, talk about it. It is not about judging people because I have been through a lot and I know what it feels like to have people judge you. That was why I started the show 15 years ago.
The show has been on-air for 15 years?
Yes! I started this show on a cable network called MCTV. It was called Emotions & Feelings with Labi at the time. I have always wanted to be attached to my viewers. Have them talk about more than the mundane, I want to be able to cry with them, feel what they are feeling. I do not judge. I remember a time a viewer called, talking about the difficulties of being a single parent and I cried with her.
Isn’t it hard getting in touch with your feelings when you are not the one feeling it?
I am an emotional person. Okay, someone calls on a live show and tells me they’re unhappy and that just gets me. I mean, they are calling with their airtime, the generator is on because there is no power supply and they are telling me they are unhappy. The first thing I think of is how to make them happy. I empathise.
What has been your most interesting experience on the show?
I remember a man once called to confess that he had cheated on his wife with her friend who was his ex-girlfriend. He said he was being eaten by guilt and didn’t know what to do.
So, I advised him to wake her up to tell her. He did and called afterwards to tell me that she went back to sleep without saying anything. I advised him not to sleep as I believed that was a scary reaction, one that might beget a dangerous situation. After that night, I introduced the couple to a marriage counselor.
The Labi Show is very emotional. At one point, after I began one-on-one counselling sessions with people, I had to get a counselor for myself because it was draining me. When what you do is about passion, you get emotionally involved, tending to neglect your own life. So I got a coach, Praise Fowowe. I told him that I needed to cry for myself, not for someone else.
In 2017, you moved from TVC to Play TV. What led to that move and how has it been so far?
I remember in April 2017 my son asked if I had plans outside TVC and I said: “TVC is TVC, Labi is Labi.” He disagreed and said he wanted me to become an independent producer. Chidinma also suggested the same thing to me. This happened in April 2017, before I was let go from TVC in June. That was when I knew Chidinma and my son were mouthpieces of God.
In less than three months, I was asked to come over to Playas a producer and presenter with more leeway than I had at TVC. When I left TVC, I had companies ask me to be their brand ambassador and it wasn’t about TVC, it was about me. It was hard at first because of the emotional attachment I had to TVC, having worked there for 10 years.
The Labi Show airs by 21.00 on Play but when it was on TVC, it aired by 23.00. Why the change to the earlier timeslot?
It’s because Play is a cable network. On TVC, when it was aired at 23.00, I didn’t get to sleep after the show. I would pick calls from viewers afterwards, from midnight till 04.00. So when I brought the show to Play, I said I no longer wanted 23.00 since I wanted to be home by midnight. Now, the show starts by 21.00, ends by 22.00 and the calls continue till midnight. I go home after that. I needed to change the status quo. If I am not healthy, I’d be unhelpful.
What do you have planned for The Labi Show this year? Is there any new content for Play?
Yes, I have new content planned. I have the annual boat cruise for The Labi Show. On TVC, it was done only during the Valentine’s Day period and only for fans in Lagos. But now, some state governors will be partnering on the boat cruise and may attend, so it will also be done in other states and during festive periods.
I also have a new show coming up. I have shot six episodes so far. It’s called The Other Side. As the name denotes, The Other Side will be showing the other side of celebrities and well-known individuals, a side that fans rarely see, their emotional side, their family, their home.
One episode features Akinwunmi Ambode, the Lagos state governor, talking about how he relaxes. Another features showbiz couple Tunde and Wunmi Obe taking us on a tour of their home, which includes a lounge, club, several rooms within rooms, their dogs’ houses and more. I can’t wait for viewers to see what we have in store. This unscripted show is exclusive to Play.
What challenges do you face doing your job and how do you overcome them?
People expect so much from me, they expect me to say yes to every request. People think that because I am a TV personality, I ought to have a cheerful disposition every time. I remember someone tapping me on the shoulder in a bank queue, saying: “Smile now, why can’t you smile?”
I’ve gotten so used to it that I have a permanent smiling face. It’s a crazy world where people expect you to be perfect all the time. Also, I’m not much of a make-up person, I prefer the natural look. So once I’m off-air I do away with all the glamour. I like being ordinary.
The Labi Show airs on Friday at 21.00 on Play TV channel 400 and Free TV channel 711. It also airs on Thursdays at 22.00 on Rave TV and Mondays at 22.00 on WAP TV.