London-born On Air Personality (OAP) Maria Okanrende had been making waves shuttling between TV reporting gigs for Cokobar and BEN TV in London, when she was asked to audition for an OAP spot at the Beat 99.9 FM. She auditioned while on vacation in Lagos, and she hasn't looked back since!
Maria Okanrende has become one of the rising talented On-Air-Personalities and unraveling her past is intriguing as she has had the pleasure of working with the BBC, Africa Unplugged, MTV Networks Africa and Dropout UK, as well as interviewing a wide range of superstars from Bow Wow, Shontelle, Raphael Saadiq, Jessie J and Tinie Tempah to Wizkid, D'banj, Basketmouth, 2Face, Davido and many more.
A vibrant, quirky personality, Maria loves to socialize and chat and it was absolutely fun getting to know her and interviewing her. She recently released new promo pictures in a big to rebrand her image and throw herself more in the public eye, well, we hope you become just as intrigued about her as we are.
The OnoBello.com team had the opportunity to interview this lovely lady and rising star, you wouldn’t believe some of the things we found out as a result.
OB: Can you tell us who Maria Okanrende is, your background, Education, Family?
MO: I'm a radio presenter on the Morning Rush (Monday to Friday, 6am to 11am) at the Beat 99.9FM in Lagos. I was born in London and grew up there, but my dad is from Ogun state and my mum is from Lagos. I studied English Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London.
OB: Tell us what growing up was like for you?
MO: It was fuuuuun! (Errm…) I was so scared of my parents though. At school, my friends were always saying stuff like “Yeah let's all go ice skating” but by the time they were ready to meet up, it was Maria's curfew time (laughs).
OB: With a BA in English Language from Goldsmiths College, University of London, will you say you have always known you were going to become a broadcaster?
MO: Oh yeah man! I've always wanted to do that. At first, I actually wanted to do broadcast journalism. When I was 9, I wanted to be a police lady. I just love communicating with people and entertaining them.
OB: Co-hosting the Morning Rush at the Beat 99.9FM, how has the experience been so far?
MO: Ridiculously fabulous! I've learnt so much from my boss Deji, Olisa, Toolz, Douglas, Koch, some of the marketing team and especially Gbemi. Man, I can't lie though, waking up at 4:30am is sometimes a bit wild for me but I love talking, learning and meeting Africa's finest superstars!
OB: Describe your other co-hosts in one sentence
MO: (Laughs), my co-hosts Koch and Olisa claim I'm crazy but I actually think they've lost their minds.
OB: Like you rightly said, there’s been some mornings you wake up and feel indisposed, how do you prep yourself to delivering your best on air?
MO: I just keep the main aims of my job (to inform and entertain) in mind, I think of the exciting parts of the show (such as the music and interviews), then I smile and go! (Errm…) food helps too. Ha!
OB: Has there been any time you chocked on a question from a caller that caught you off guard?
MO: Not really. I always believe that someone will call and say something really funny or weird so I always prepare myself for that.
OB: You also have a Youtube channel MariaOkTV, can you tell us about that?
MO: Oh life! Where did y'all find that? Kidding. (Errm), when I first tried to make a serious attempt at becoming a presenter – I had been advised by many producers, presenters, TV channels, radio stations etc to create a showreel, so what you saw was the place I keep all my 'practice' recordings.
OB: Do you ever want to go back and revisit the Youtube channel now that it’s in vogue?
MO: I haven't been back there in a while! I hope to do some TV work, so when that time comes I hope to use that as a platform to showcase some of the work I've done.
OB: With what you have achieved in your career at the moment, how satisfied are you with the height you’ve attained?
MO: Oh “achieved”! I haven't heard such a thing since school! (Laughs) I'm extremely thankful for the opportunities I have, however, I plan to attain so much more. I don't see the point in stopping.
OB: Most OAPs also combine MC and host with their job, are you also looking in that direction?
MO: Yes definitely! Y'all better get to know! I love to talk! (Laughs)
OB: Tell us about some of the hosting job you have done in time past
MO: I co-host a monthly live music session called LoudNProudLive with my Morning Rush co-host Koch Okoye. I've also co-hosted an MTV event with MTV Base VJ Ehiz. To have a group of people live in front of you interacting with you – that's awesome!
OB: Which day has been your best day yet on the job?
MO: When it was my MD Chris Ubosi's birthday. There was food coming out of all corners of the Beat FM… Joke! The day my fear level dropped. I think that was a few months in. After that I just started being myself and it's more fun! However, without lying, the food at my MD's birthday was yummy!
OB: Have you had any worst?
MO: When I realised that people disliked me for things that I didn't plan on changing. Particularly my accent, I started getting tweets and comments from people who believed I was 'faking' my accent.
OB: What is the oldest item in your closet?
MO: A designer bag that I bought in 2006. I believe my little sister has stolen it though.
Denrele, Koch, Maria Okanrende and Late Goldie
at LoudNProud 1st anniversary edition
OB: What's your compulsory fashion don't, something you can never try?
MO: You won't ever catch me in leggings!
OB: What's your fashion must-have?
MO: Clean clothes (Laughs)… Kidding! (Errm) black fitted jeans or black fitted trousers. Black is my favourite colour and I find jeans and trousers very comfortable.
OB: What's your fashion sin, something you always indulge in?
MO: I wear trainers/sneakers/flat shoes a lot. Man they're comfortable – sue me! No, for real, some people here in Lagos have told me it's very 'un-lady like'.
OB: Where will you describe as the best place to shop in Nigeria?
MO: I haven't really done much shopping here (Nigeria), but from what I've seen, I will say Balogun market for materials, Kinabuti, L'Espace and Mango.
OB: What are the last three items bought?
Food… food, water… Okay seriously, a bra, mascara and jeans .
OB: What's in your make-up bag right now?
MO: Mascara, blush powder, lipgloss and dental floss. Yeah I need the floss because I stay eating (laughs).
OB: What’s your Signature smell?
MO: Well the only fragrance I really like is Prada's “Eau de Parfum” spray.
Follow Maria Okan on Twitter: @MariaOkan
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