“Uncle please tell us a story…” the plaintive whine of a clamorous child demands in the intro of P-Square’s ‘I got a Story’ song. Only it is not a child, no not at all; it’s Helen Paul, ace Nigerian Comedienne, Presenter, Singer, Actress, TV host and Entrepreneur plying her trade most convincingly.
Beautiful and petite, Helen Paul who visits our homes every week via the JARA platform which she co-hosts with Uti Nwachukwu, had a typical [well, are they really typical?] grass to grace story. Brought up in a less than-wealthy home by her grandmother, Helen did not attend the best of schools or have the choicest opportunities. After her Primary education at Omiyade Primary School, she traversed Jibowu High School, Maryland High School and Bejide Memorial College, all in Lagos, in pursuit of a secondary education.
Paucity of funds prevented her from proceeding to a tertiary institution upon completion of her secondary education. In a bid to raise funds, Helen undertook a stint as an exam ‘mercenary’-writing exams for others-until she was taught the error and possible repercussions of her ways.
Thereafter, Helen got a job as a receptionist at the rate of N10, 000 per month which was grossly insufficient for her needs. A night job was added on to supplement her meagre income, which soon rose to a grand sum of N40, 000.
That baby voice we all know so well was discovered when Helen was all grown up. She realized that she could talk like and mimic kids, and constantly caused havoc at the radio station where she was employed. Her breakthrough broke through when a client needed a replacement for a baby’s voice in a radio program. Helen’s Manager recommended her, and the rest as they say is history. Helen featured on several music projects with artistes and music groups including P-Square, Infinity, Olufunmi, Yinka Davies, etc. She also recorded radio jingles for a number of companies and brand names, including Bank PHB, Peak Milk, Indomie Noodles, and Cowbell Milk. Finally, the funds were available for her to continue her education. She enrolled in the University of Lagos Creative Arts program; but the story doesn’t end there; it only gets more interesting.
Newly matriculated, Helen attended an event, and it turned out that the comedian billed to entertain was a no-show. Somehow, Helen supplanted him and with the MIC in her petite but firm grasp, fed the spellbound audience from her witty well. The deal was done; Helen was sealed as a comedienne to watch out for, and the invitations to bigger and bigger events to perform and compere poured in. Today, the girl that had no money to go to school holds a Master’s degree and is considering undertaking a Ph.D. programme.
Helen is juggling many balls in the air with adept ability. She hosts a radio show for Radio Continental where she stars as ‘Tatafo’ the voice of a humorous child who addresses and caricatures societal issues. She has worked as both a freelance and full-time presenter at several media houses, including M-net’s JARA which won the entertainment TV Program of the Year at the 2012 edition of the Nigerian Broadcasters Awards.
She has starred in block-buster Nollywood movies like the ‘Return of Jenifa’ and ‘A Wish’. Helen recently opened Massive bridals, a bridal boutique in Lagos in addition to selling materials of all weaves and knits.
The mother and wife is riding the crest of a successful career and spreading her wings into entrepreneurial pursuits because of the not always stable nature of media and entertainment.
In an interview with Saturday Beats, Helen stated concerning her achievements, “It’s all in the mind-set. Today’s choices, they say, are tomorrow’s realities. I’ve learnt that no matter how challenging a situation is, once you have made up your mind to succeed against all odds, you can overcome the obstacles and succeed. I just decided that it will work, of course whilst depending on God’s wisdom. I set daily and achievable goals for myself and set out to achieve them. I also have a family that understands the demands of my work and I get help from loving people whenever I need it,” the comedienne said.
Helen never fails to acknowledge God for the heights she has attained. After all, it was just a ‘baby voice,’ wasn’t it? God made all the difference.
I know it seems so hard sometimes; try not to give up. Your voice may just be priming itself for action at the right time and place.