Former Big Brother Naija housemate, versatile actor, dancer and choreographer, Anthony Edet Offiong, popularly known as Thin Tall Tony, talks about his theatre career, experience living in Abuja and as one of the judges in the maiden edition of Barista Competition, among other issues in this interview with TONY OKIUEME
You were one of the judges in the maiden edition of the Barista Competition in Nigeria. Tell us your experience.
I am very opportuned and humbled to be invited as a judge. I have always been very inquisitive in terms of knowing new things. At Barista Competition we had a moment were we had to work with one of the technical judges who came all the way from Lagos, and schooled us on how to taste, how to reset. There was much information that was given about coffee that a lot of people don’t know. It was also my first time of testing an espresso, but obviously the lati and signature coffees were amazing. My experience was top-notch, and I can literally have a conversation with anyone especially in the coffee business or even outside the coffee business now, to tell you what and what you can get, and how much money you can actually make. That’s how we’ll my experience has grown, and I only had that in two weeks, with information being passed, AND personal research, apart from the technical class that got me intrigued into knowing more.
How has it affected your perception about coffee culture?
It has changed it drastically in a good way, in a very positive way. And I am seeing the business angle of it, very huge business angle it. You can understand the I am saying huge with emphasis because they showed us the numbers. And you know, we live on a country where petroleum is like everything, and we have cocoa and other natural resources. There are so many things that can be done, especially when you have the raw materials here, and to start afresh. So, my perception about coffee is great; it is not only for tasting, also there a way that you can influence it too in your lifestyle, and making money from it. You can export it as well…, letting the people know that a signature, especially from a country as amazing as Nigeria can have its own signature.
You seem to have returned fully into acting. Is it deliberate?
I have taken acting like my day break, like my morning; if it comes, it comes. But I also put a pause to it, although as a media person, because I now work with a media house for both television and radio. But there is a whole lot that has not been done properly, because everybody wants become an actor. I encourage that, but sometimes, when we watch these other professionals on television or read about and it wows us, because the PR for them is amazing, the content crew for them is doing proper work. And it’s because the individual also knows his onions. So, for acting, I am still active, if I get roles I will definitely act, but I think there is an extra energy that has to be out to be able to do the work properly. I am very deliberate about acting; if it comes I will do my homework to the fullest. I will talk down on any one, not in a bad way, who doesn’t know their onions because the truth is that we should be able to respect the profession to that height. You will never meet someone in the medical profession who is just breezing around… We are talking a life here, so people in the acting world also look at it in that direction because whatever story we are giving out, we are also a mirror of the society. So, let’s not just breeze pass it because passing it, a lot of people will just breeze and collect the information and think that’s how it is done.
Beyond the persona and character we see on stage and screen, who really is Thin Tall Tony?
Thin Tall Tony is a man full of many ideas; he is a man waiting to strike at the right time. And that write time is about now.
You grew up grew up in Ajegunle, specifically in ‘Kirikiri Town’. How did it affect your career as an artiste and philosophy about life?
It has given me a four-way view into life, because now I am a father. Secondly, I am a lover to my wife; thirdly, I am Tony; and fourthly, I also have personality that I carry now, I have always had but this time around a lot of people get to see it. It has shown me that either I like it or not, there is no line that can draw when it comes to me in general even as an artiste or when I take off that coat to say, OK, I am relaxing, I am not being artistic. But it happens, it has circled my lifestyle that everything about me has been artistic, has to be look entertaining. And I guess being an artiste elaborated. I have always been an artiste since when I was even at the age of two, I just did not know. But now everything I do has to have some flair with it, has to have some amazing sweet spot to it. Kiri Kiri Town I will always hold on to; Ajegunle is my heart in-out, and it has affected me in a positive way. Sometimes the street in me is still there. It is because, to be honest, while some people are attracted to you is not because of the amount of knowledge you get in school but it is also that that you are able to draw from the street. I am not speaking about anything negative. Sometimes you just have to be very ruthless in terms of how you deal with people. But it has helped. We always see the situation very differently. I will never take anything back from those experiences I was made to go through then, and I am grateful for it. How has the journey been so far? It has been hard; it has been really hard, but recently, in the last three months, it has been amazing. Sometimes I tell myself that I wish I had these months four years ago.
You recently relocated to Abuja, why?
Yes, I just recently moved into Abuja and I have been trying to also spread my wings and see how well the city will embrace me. I have never been part of the people that accepted that Lagos is the hub of entertainment industry in Nigeria. I even said so recently that yes, entertainment industry has always been Lagos because that is the perception that people have, and it is because we have not even corrected that. So the assumption has also come in to play. As I said, I just recently moved into Abuja and I have been trying to also spread my wings and see how well the city will embrace me. Relocating to Abuja was just that I needed a fresh start; I needed a place I could grow. I always love to start all over again. I like to scratch from the bottom. It has never been a problem for me. I also did it because my wife said we should move. So, I had to keep my happy home and I love my wife. Whatever she says goes with me.
So how has it been since you relocated to Abuja?
Like I said, God has been faithful. Three months so far, and it’s been very amazing, meeting very down-to-earth people who are also ready to do business, and people who want to do it in a very creative way as well.
No regrets. I don’t miss Lagos, even for one day. I come to Lagos and do productions but I don’t miss Lagos. For instance, I work in a media organisation here, as an OAP, I resume at 11am. I leave my house sometimes 10:15am or 10:20am, and I get to my work place before 11am. I can never try that in Lagos. I used to leave my house at about 5am or 6am when I am supposed to get 11am, and I get there may be at 11:30am. Somebody starts saying: That’s how you celebrities behave. I don’t allow anyone call me a celebrity anyway. But they say: ‘That’s how you celebrities behave, because you are into Limelight you come when you like.’ That isn’t good for me. I hate it. If you tell me to come by 10am, I will be there 8:30am. That is how we were trained in the theatre. A lot of people actually have lost those ethics.
How has it been after your participation in Big Brother Naija (BBNaija)?
To be honest, it’s been engaging. Also, I get a lot of hate speech; I get a lot of people abusing me, a lot of people bring out the matter about four years ago. They never moved on. To be honest, I am all about peace. And I go into that statement that ‘if men were God’, we will definitely not have peace. We are looking for a way to move forward and some other person is out there doing hate speech. Some even have the gut to send you DM (direct message) and tell you how incredibly unsuccessful you are… What I do is that I pray for them.