The name Samuel Animashaun Perry may not ring a bell; that is because he is widely and better known as Broda Shaggi. The comedian, actor, songwriter and musician is best known for his hilarious skits on Instagram. Influenced by his late father who was a drama teacher, Shaggi took interest in entertainment, particularly drama, at a young age. Over the years, with his creative ingenuity; and thanks to social media, the comedian has become one of the most-followed personalities on Instagram, boasting of about 6 million followers, with a little less subscribers on YouTube – a feat which comes with a lot of endorsements and payoff from private and corporate organisations.
The Ogun State-born, multitalented comedian and graduate of creative arts from the University of Lagos, in this encounter, talks about his work in the creative industry, growing up years, journey to fame and more.
You started out with the creation of this tout persona on Instagram. What inspired it?
The Agbero idea just came one day. I had played different characters before that of Agbero and Broda Shaggi. I just wanted to do something no one has really done before on Social media. I believe that true creative excellence comes from doing what hasn’t been done or modifying an existing trend in a special and acceptable manner.
For most of your shoots, you take on different occupation; it’s either you are a mechanic today or a bricklayer tomorrow. What message do you try to pass to your viewers with your skits?
The occupational themes in my skits are just to let people know that there are many jobs out there for the youths to do instead of staying idle or waiting for white-collar jobs. There are things you can easily do for yourself and these are the works an Agbero will do on a normal day just to survive and take care of his family.
This apparently passes a direct message to youths that every profession is worth being proud of, as long as you are not stealing. Handwork should not be relegated because of the corporate perception of white-collar jobs. My sociological focus on comedy is to encourage youths not to wait for office jobs to survive. It goes further to preach the essence of self-reliance and growth. We all can’t depend on office jobs to survive.
At what point in life did you discover your creative flair?
I would say creativity has always been part of me. I have always loved arts; anything in the field of arts, be it dance, music, drawing, painting, acting and drumming. These are the things I have always loved to do. Anything in the line of creativity, I get comfort there. That was why I studied Creative Arts at the prestigious University of Lagos. The ability to use space, speech and body has always been my comfort zone and I have no regrets. I don’t think I can do anything else aside from the arts.
From creating comedy skits, you set out to make music and have now introduced new web comedy series, Shaggi Palava, The Robbery, all on YouTube; tell us about it. What is the transition process like?
These transitions have always been my plans; things I really wanted to do. I have them written down like my New Year goals. There are many things coming that I look forward to working on. So, we keep pushing every day. Once people get tired of a particular concept, they move elsewhere to satisfy their entertainment urge. That is why I saddle myself with the responsibility of dishing out new ideas, to keep myself in the game. The truth is, there is no end to creative ideas.
Would you say the YouTube platform has in a way, helped to increase engagement with your fans?
Yes, the YouTube platform has done greatly, especially for my international fan base. YouTube has really done justice to that, because most of my international fans get to see my content via that medium. I love the reviews I get from them because I make them remember home. With the character of the tout, (Agbero), I make them want to see Lagos more and more. These are experiences they have had with these Agberos on the streets of Lagos at respective instances. My contents bring back memories for them, and they love it. This however doesn’t discount the huge patronage I continue to get from home-based fans. YouTube has really brought me closer to my fans than I would have thought. I can’t but acknowledge that sincere experience. Also, I can’t take away the fact that I make money on the platform too. (Laughs)
How are you diversifying content to reach new target audiences?
That is what I have been trying to do. If you see my YouTube channel, you will know it is not just filled with comedy skits. I have songs there, and I have other content coming. I want to reach every of my fan of different interests. Not everybody would like my comedy; that is why I dish out other creative content too. I have Broda Shaggi as a policeman, Broda Shaggi as an Agbero, Broda Shaggi as a driver and, Broda Shaggi as a hotel staff. So, there are many parts of Broda Shaggi you can vibe with. You can’t ever get tired of Broda Shaggi, because there are many folds of the character. Broda Shaggi is highly unpredictable. I always love the idea that my fans anticipate new dimensions each time I tease them with skit trailers.
As a content creator, how do you get inspiration for all you do?
Art is passion; if you don’t have it, you can’t force it. You can’t learn it either. It has to come from within. So, the inspiration is from within. I am always attentive to ideas; whenever they pop up, I write them down. Just like Aristotle mentioned, art is meant to speak for itself. As an artist, your audience do not necessarily have to stress their minds before comprehending the messages of your work. Over time, I have always ensured that every of my skit or song has a message to pass. I don’t do art for art’s sake. My art is about entertainment and social change together.
When you started, did you think you would become this big on social media?
To be honest, yes! It has always been my dream; it has always been my prayer. I always wanted to see myself in a very big place. Fortunately, that is what we are seeing now. I am not there yet; I am still a work in progress. I didn’t know I would become big this soon, but I think this is as a result of hard work and consistency and I am happy. As things are now, I look forward to breaking more grounds and being more celebrated in this craft. Grace found me and I do not take it for granted. I want to perform on bigger stages in the international scene. It is happening gradually; I want more.
Tell us a bit about yourself and growing up years?
My growing up was fun and eventful. I am a graduate of creative arts, university of Lagos. I majored in Visual Arts with special interest in painting and drawing. My father is late. But before he died, he was a cultural person; he was a lover of arts. He was a teacher, singer, and dancer. He taught arts at Mayflower School, Ikenne, until his death.
After then, I moved to Lagos to stay with my aunt. I had my secondary education in Lagos. I then proceeded to the University of Lagos. During university days, it was very tough. My aunt was my major sponsor, though my mother supported me once-in-a-while.
As an undergraduate, I had a group called “Stage Addicts.” We went out to perform; we danced and acted at events and made some money. I was able to finish school from the monies I gathered from off-campus performances. So it was more like a struggle to be here, and I just believe whatever is meant to be good, won’t be smooth at the beginning. It has been a rough journey all the way to this point.
What childhood event would you say shaped you into the man you are today?
I would say church dramas. It made me know my strengths and I never stopped. Through church dramas, I was able to overcome fears and inhibition. I developed confidence in facing the crowd and my acting skills just kept improving.
Do you have a role model you look up to and why?
To be honest, I don’t have a role model or anyone I look up to particularly. I learn from everybody; I learn from people’s mistakes. If I see anything good in you, I adopt it. If I see anything bad in you, I don’t take it. That is how I build up myself. I don’t have a specific person that I look up to as a role model. Though I have met and worked with several top entertainers in Africa, it will be unsafe for me to point at one particular person as my role model. This is because for each encounter I have had with them respectively, I always have something to pick from their personality and attitude towards life.
As a comedian, do people take you seriously outside?
It depends. For people who know that Broda Shaggi has double personality, they identify with me properly. I have Broda shaggi and I have Samuel’s personality. Those who know me personally, know how serious I can be when I am not in Broda shaggi character. My fans who have not encountered me closely believe I am Broda Shaggi everywhere. Whenever they see me, they would prefer to experience the comedian part of me, which is very hard most times. I do try as much as possible to separate my art from who I am; though it is not so easy to achieve, I try to make it happen.
If there is anything you like to change about yourself, what would that be?
I would like to change the fact that I don’t like going out. I really want to explore different places and have fun but I am not really that fun person. I love being alone writing and doing all kinds of creative activities. I am an introvert, I want to change that.
When you are not working, how do you relax?
When I am not working, I am relaxing and thinking of new content. That itself is work.
With all you do on social media, would you say the platform has impacted your life positively or otherwise, give us an instance?
It has impacted my life positively because many things have changed since the recognition of Broda Shaggi brand. I was a no-body. It was very hard for me to get roles in the movie industry. But right now, as Broda Shaggi, producers are the ones calling me for jobs. They want me in their movies. So it has really changed a lot. The love I receive from my fans when I go outside has really been impressive. It was never there until the recognition and acceptance of Broda Shaggi through social media.
Before your skits made you famous on Instagram, what were you doing?
I was acting, I was hustling. I was acting everyday; trying different roles. I was going for auditions. I was playing “waka pass” roles; otherwise known as extreme minor roles. I was hustling; I was struggling to make a name for myself.
What’s next in the future?
So many things are being planned for the future; my movie, my music, my TV, and YouTube series. There are so many things we are working on.