‘Why I left US reality TV deal for Real Housewives of Lagos
Mariam Timmer is one of the celebrity divas presently in the reality television show on Showmax, ‘The Real Housewives Wives of Lagos’. IFEOMA ONONYE trailed the workaholic millionaire to her home in Lekki, where she told the grass-to-grace story of how she became a Public Relations Executive
Everybody has a story behind how they found themselves in the career they are engaged in. We will love to hear your story or how you came to be the well recognised Public Relations Executive…
The journey started years ago. It is true that as a child, we dream of becoming a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer. My dream back then was to be a doctor but also I was that girl in high school in the social team. I was literally like the most popular girl in school. I was always miming. I was more of the people’s person. I was more of the leader of a wolf pack.
As at that time in High School, I knew I was going to be something, but do I know what I was going to be? No. When I got to Senior Secondary Class one, I was asked to pick either science, commercial or art class. I chose commercial because my grade was not good enough for sciences.
My grade was not that bad actually; it’s just that I didn’t like Chemistry, Physics and one other subject that I cannot remember right now. I was average at Maths. So, I knew being an Accountant wasn’t my thing.
That is how I chose Commercial. I wasn’t sure where commercial studies would take me but I had an idea that I may end up becoming a businesswoman. After secondary school, I got admission into the University of Lagos. I was in UniLag for like one year because my mum wanted us to go to school in Abuja.
So, we moved. I did a two-year diploma course in Business Administration. Then, I went for degree in Political Science because that was the course that was available to pick.
One thing about my life is that, sometimes, I don’t plan for things but things just happen. Any situation I find myself in, I try to make the best of it. By this time, I already know what life is. You may have the best certificate and you are counting papers on the roadside.
So, I just wanted to do well in school, get my certificates and be ready to face life wherever it turns me. I was a social student back in secondary school, but had to take a break from it until I got into the university. In university, I got my freedom back because I wasn’t that free back home. So in Abuja, it was a different life. I was in school but I also made out time to go out.
My mother’s childhood friend, Dakova, David Kolawale, the famous fashion designer was in Abuja. He owned a club that was popular back in the days in Abuja called ‘Aristotle’. The club was our go-to place because it was safe and owned by my mum’s friend. I always went there with my friends. I usually get a table easily because of my connection with the owner of the club.
After one year, Dakova told me that I have a talent in organising people and event. He invited me to work in the club on my free days in school and that he would pay me. Me that was collecting money from home every week, I was like, ‘why do I need extra money?
You know when your parents are giving you everything you need and you are comfortable, no man can come and say they want to give me money. I will be like ‘Abeg Abeg Abeg’. I don’t need it. After a while, I started enjoying my time in Abuja town, because I was living in Gwagwalada, which was close to school. I told my mum that I wanted to get an apartment in town and she didn’t like it at all.
So, it’s either I ask my mum for money or I work for the money. I decided to take the man up on his offer.
My first two months in the job was rocky because he gave me a PR job. My job was to invite my people, my friends, people of worth to the club. I knew a few people of worth because of my family. Whenever they are in town, I bring them to the club. I became like a contact person when people wanted to have fun in Abuja.
I have a place where they can spend their money and have fun, and I was making money in the process. I really didn’t discover my talent at that time. I was just working for the money. So, after a while, like seven months, after I started working, I got my house and I now quit the job. It didn’t occur to me that I will need money to maintain and pay for the rent for the house next year.
It was when I quit the job that other clubs started rushing to hire me. They were trying to pay me double of what I used to earn. That was how I found out that this is my niche.
Did you graduate from university when all these were happening?
No, I was still an undergraduate. I was just working and having fun at the same time. I hardly touched the pocket money my mum paid to the joint account I had with my sister back then. I was buying gold because that was the in-thing in Abuja. At that time, I didn’t look at working in a club as something I would do for the rest of my life. In 2011, I graduated and moved back to Lagos.
I worked for our family company for a year, because my cousin was not around and because of my experience of working in a club for four years as a PR person, she gave me the job that I can handle it. I knew the rules and regulations of what to do when it comes to PR in the entertainment industry, thanks to Dakova. Working with the family in Lagos made me realise I needed a career but I didn’t know the company to go to.
Most of my cousin’s clients were from Chevron and I loved the way everyone was formal, corporate. They had offices designated to different departments, and I liked that. I met a lot people from Chevron and Total companies.
I wanted to be Independent. I didn’t want to be a slave to my mates like a popular Yoruba adage says. I knew I could do better for myself. I am my selves’ competition. If I am rolling with you for particular period and we are not moving forward, I step out. No hard feelings. If you cannot move at a direction whereby we are both killing it, then I have to step out.
On one of my free days off from work, I went to visit a friend and another friend walked in very angry that she was expecting a friend to show up for a job interview and she called to say she has a hangover. I asked what the job was about, told her I was interested to work.
She said it was a Public Relations job; that was how I jumped to the offer because I had experience in PR. Bear in mind that I don’t know anything about the professional part of PR. I only knew the entertainment part.
I didn’t even know how to write a proposal, I didn’t even know how to write a Power- Point presentation. I practically did not know what the job entails. I didn’t know there was a professional part of PR. So, my friend said, give me one second, let me call my boss. Few minutes later, she gave me the address and time for a Monday interview.
Which company was that?
The job i n t e rview was with Bobby Tailor. I got their and it was a client’s office. The client was in the process of hiring them and I was asked on the spot what and what I can do to project their company to the market.
The luck I had was that the company was a restaurant. I just gave a few tips and I was hired. They gave me the job to handle the client. It was easy until the client’s contract finished after few months. I wrote some emails with my informal tone, like ‘I wanna’ ‘I gotta’. The client will respond and copy my boss with, “What kind of dirty email is this? I wrote like I was chatting with my friends. It was so bad that I got scared when I was about to send emails.
Did you opt to take courses?
No. I will tell you how I learned. And I am not ashamed to say this because it was a growing process in my life that I would never change for anything. I had colleagues and after that email, my boss told me to write a PR brief and a proposal. I was shaking. I couldn’t. I wrote it but I was consulting from other colleagues.
For the next one to two months on the job, once I get home from work, I go straight to the poolside in our house, with my laptop and start writing PR briefs, proposals, PowerPoint presentation and Excel. I will not eat or change until I am done. I will write and send to my colleagues to edit.
They will send it back with too many red markings. I was not ashamed. I didn’t care that they were laughing at me. They were all younger than I was. My goal was to learn. I wrote them again and sent back for corrections. That was how the red marks started reducing after a few months of practicing.
Before I knew it, I was a freaking champion. I started as a junior PR, within one year, I was a senior PR. I mean when my bosses are not around, they put me in charge. I worked with them for two years. After that I left, I started my own company. In the process of working with her, I worked with clients huge brands like Marcus Netic, Cirock, Tom Ford. Those were the brands that I handled their accounts that made people know my prowess in PR.
When I started my company, it was ‘Mariam Adeyemi’. It was after a while that I changed the name to ‘Six Sixteen’.
Life is all about growth. I became an expert in PR because I was not afraid to learn. I was not ashamed to say, teach me. Rather than envy, feel free to ask questions. Don’t allow pride overshadow your ignorance. It was in my own company that I started doing courses in Public Relations. I also applied for my second degree in Public Relations. I have other four professional degrees that I got on my own. From my early 20s to mid 20’s was a learning process.
About the Real Housewives of Lagos, how did you feel when you were called to be part of the show?
Before I was called, I have been a huge fan of reality shows. In my early 20s, I tried for Big Brother Africa twice or three times. When it was not working, I focused on my entertainment PR. I have always wanted to be in a reality television show. I was supposed to sign a deal for another show in Los Angeles and then someone called to tell me about Real Housewives of Lagos.
When I was called to join the show, they have already started shooting. That is why I am being featured in the middle. I was so excited when I signed the deal. None of the Real Housewives knew I was going to join the show.
So, the surprise reaction you saw on their face was real. There is no better way to present my personality in a respectable way, than in Real Housewives of Lagos. It’s having different class of women coming together, even though sometimes, they tear each other down, to achieve a common goal of building their brands. Real housewives is a huge franchise and I am happy I am part of it.
Some of the episodes so far seem to have women intimidating or bullying the other. Have you been bullied?
Nobody bullies anyone.
The way the show is coming up, it may look like we are fighting but there are situations you cannot escape. I won’t call Caroline and Laura Ikeji-Kanu’s issue bullying. I will call it a confrontation or more of a discussion because the show brought them together. Aside that, no one can intimidate me. I am small but mighty.
Before the Real Housewives of Lagos, have you been in front of camera or did you ever dream of being an actress?
I have been in front of the camera many times. I did many episodes of Style 360. I have been on talk shows as a guest. In acting, I remember I did Gidi Culture series. I remember when I had my baby, Spice TV did a Mama Glam series with me for a whole week. I don’t really plan something’s sometimes; they just come my way.
I always try to do things I like. If it doesn’t go through, I will say at least I tried.
What part of you would people see in the Real Housewives of Lagos show?
The real me! Anybody that knows me from way back that sees the show will know for a fact that that is Mariam. I know I can be petty, sarcastic, funny, Mean Queen but fighting? No. People may expect me to do that but not in that kind of platform. Not that I cannot fight, believe me, I am not a girl you push around. No matter what you do, do not touch me. If you touch me, that is another different ball game.
Tell us about your style…
My style is Vogue, vanity fair kind of style. I love what I am comfortable in. If I feel sexy, comfortable in my own skin, I will wear it. I have always been stylish since I was very little because my mum is a fashionista herself as well. I used to steal her lip gloss and mascara to school. I have always picked my style from my mom. You have to love your body. I may not have the butts all these Lagos girls have but, men I love my body. I am comfortable in my skin.
Speaking being comfortable in your skin, can you go under the knife to get a bigger butt or bigger breasts?
I already did my boobs. I didn’t get the surgery to make my breast bigger. I just lifted it a bit. I had big breast but my skinny body couldn’t handle it. I am married to a white man and which Oyibo do think like big buttocks? He practically told me if I get butt implants, he will leave me