The pride of having trained by a former Vice-President of CNN and having ones’ works featured on BBC as an insignia on ones résumé seems like enough pointer to the conclusion that one has ‘blown’, especially in a country like Nigeria where two in every five youths are without a job. Kunle Idowu had a rare old time of learning at a revered organisation such as CNN and the uncommon experiences of working as reporter, News Anchor and Assignment Editor for Network News 24 (NN24- a CNN affiliate) and resuming daily at the Television Continental (TVC) office for a job as a Promos Producer. While these jobs attracted pride, good pay and ultimately put him in a comfortable place, the road to his fulfilment led elsewhere – to the discovery place of the ‘Frank Donga’ character.
It started out of curiosity about the intricacies of the Nigerian society which is particularly plague with the problem of unemployment. This black spot turned out to be the light for Kunle Idowu to create a platform for an audience of Nigerian youths to learn to improve the quality of their lives from watching the foolery of Frank Donga, a character in a popular comedy series on Ndani TV, titled ‘The Interview.’
“Frank Donga is a character that you see in the TV series, is what I’d like to imagine as a victim of a poor educational system and a difficult job market. Frank constantly attends job interviews without much success. The character was borne (almost accidentally while making some friend laugh) out of the fact that over the over the course of the years I’ve seen so many young people who didn’t quite get the jobs that they longed for or the opportunities that they wanted. I suspected that the primary reason is that too many young people are either too timid or battling low self-esteem or are just not prepared for such interviews. I felt that there’s a need for someone to encourage young people to stand with their heads high“, he said.
Indeed, the character has become a subject of reflection for a lot of Nigerian youths who watch Frank Donga, laugh at his mistakes, marvel at his height of ignorance while learning not to do same in their endeavours, in order to make the best out of life opportunities. Because of the relevance of the inherent message of the skits and it’s amusing form of presentation, it was easy enough for people to share with friends and family on the internet such that the skits went viral, viral enough that some fans developed the culture of storing the videos on their mobile devices for repeated viewing.
Interestingly, all of these was happening even at a time when the internet penetration potential of the country was still in its infancy. In spite of the limitation, Kunle Idowu, for his role as Frank Donga in ‘The Interview’ series, was nominated in the category of best actor in a comedy genre at the 2015 African Magic Viewers Choice Award.’
The success of the Frank Donga skits forced a celebrity status on Kunle Idowu such that he could no longer do his job as a photographer in peace. At functions where he was commissioned to document, people would rather approach him for selfies for social media than have him capture them in event scenes, on his professional camera. So he made lemonade out of the Lemons served to him, taking a drive on a new professional lane as an actor.
With his history with comical acting and presentations, Kunle Idowu has excelled in the numerous comedy movie roles he has taken, whether as Harrison, the failed artiste turned driver who would use silly talks to ruin the beautiful moment of love between a bride and her charming groom, like he did in The Wedding Party or his other hilarious acting roles in movies like Idahosa Trials and Mentally. Kunle Idowu has transitioned from living the life of a shy and quiet man to becoming a leading face of comedy in Nollywood.
With a line up of high-calibre movies like HAKKUNDE, CROSS–ROADS, 200 Million, Falz: The Experience Movie, The Foreigner’s God, Kunle Idowu can be said to have completely embraced his new professional life as a comedian even though it is not in anyway a branch of his educational background in Agricultural Science and a big twist from his early life as a journalist. His filmmaking skill however, is being used to prepare a forthcoming animation series that he predicts to impact the cinema culture in Nigeria and the movie business in the country.
Furthermore, Kunle Idowu with his background in Agricultural Science and practical experience still consults on agricultural projects. In his words ‘I am usually fascinated about the idea of having to give something life. I was posted to Kogi State for my NYSC and there I managed a farm, it was really an exciting experience. You just have to marvel at the creation of new stuffs be it animals and crops.’
Ultimately, Frank Donga might seem stupid but Kunle Idowu is certainly a man of wisdom and skill, who is shaping lives with what many believe to be as simplistic as foolery.