Dominique Oputa is the last child of Charles Oputa, a.k.a ‘Area Fada’. She currently lives in Atlanta, United States of America, where she is studying Fashion and Design at the University of Arts Institute. In this interview, she speaks about her life in the United States, her father and his influence in her life. Excerpts:
Would you settle in Nigeria?
This will always be home for me. At least, it’s comforting to know one is with family, and I am glad to be home. I missed home, mum and dad. Things may not be what they should be, but home is it. There were too many things I took for granted before I left, but now, I know better. When I’m done with schooling, I will be back home to do my own thing too; even though the weather is killing me right now.
You are a child of two different cultures. How do you cope?
When I was home, I grew up fast. I had that independent spirit; so I’m coping real good. I am working now and schooling. I simply just thank God. Growing up with my parents kept me on the straight and narrow path. Trust dad; we all know how strict he gets sometimes. Although I am old enough, I guess in his eyes, I will forever remain his baby. However, growing up in Nigeria prepared me for my independence. Nigerian children are more grounded than the Americans. We mature quicker and early enough to start taking responsibilities.
You are so much like your father in looks and style. Is this deliberate?
I think I’m just the female version of my dad. We are just the same; pretty much (the same). I guess I caught his cold after years of being around him. I have always admired him for his freedom and his tenacity at a time when it was taboo to look that way. In my case, the whole thing just grew on me. I don’t do all I do because I am trying to be like my dad though. I am just Dominique. Even though I wear tattoos and have piercings, it’s just because I love them, not because I got influenced by my dad.
What informed your choice of career, and what influence did your dad have regarding that?
I want to be a designer and a stylist. I am like my mother in that regard. I like to make things, and I’m good with my hands too. As long as you walk that positive path and observe dad’s little rules, you are free to express yourself whichever way, creatively. Knowing the battle dad fought for his independence, it would be wrong for him to remote (control) us into something else that does not agree with our innate ability. My dad didn’t influence my choice of career; it is just what I’ve always loved and desired to do.
What kind of father is Charly Boy?
Like any normal parent, he is always looking out for his children and wanting the best for them. Most of the time, he is easy with us, especially when we are good. However, sometimes, he is a bit old fashioned and can be very strict. People see him differently on the outside but to be honest, he is really a cool guy. He really understands and I could tell him anything. He is like an elder brother or a friend.
How weird is your dad? Is he as weird as he is portrayed in the media…like sleeping in coffins, having pythons as pets and even his sexuality being questionable?
My dad is an entertainer; that’s what he does for a living. And as an entertainer, you would attract all sorts – good, bad, ugly. It is their stock in trade. At home, we don’t see any of these; it’s as normal as it could ever be. I guess people confuse his life as Charly Boy with his life as Mr. Oputa. They are two different entities. The man I know as my dad is Mr. Charles Oputa.
Do you share intimate stuff with your dad?
Yeah, I share intimate stuff with him. Once, I shared the story of the birds and the bees with him and it wasn’t funny. Maybe the timing was wrong, but we are still very close and we talk pretty well.
Are your parents still together? What is their relationship like?
They are still together. Every relationship is hard; there needs to be collective efforts to make it work. I think they have had a cool relationship thus far. Though they have their bitter moments sometimes, what they share is worth emulating. It’s the kind I would like to have in future, with my husband whenever I marry.
How do all the funny stories about your dad affect you?
Some pictures came out some months ago, and I really didn’t know how to react to them then. I know who my father is, but sometimes, people’s ignorance and bad words can get to you. That is the price we all have to pay for being Charly Boy’s offspring. I have a thick skin now, so nothing anybody writes gets to me again. I just tell myself, I know who this person is and I am not going to get upset over words. Sometimes it gets so annoying being his daughter though; because I don’t like so much attention focused on me.
How does being Charly Boy’s daughter help you?
I’m proud of my name, but I don’t go about telling people that I am Charly Boy’s daughter. I even hide that angle, because you want to know who your real friends are, not based on something else. I don’t think anyone of us wears it as a badge. I love to be seen as Dominique, not as Charly Boy’s daughter.
What do you feel about Nigeria’s economy right now?
Nigeria’s economy is very bad. I feel like nothing is going to work anymore, like when something is so damaged beyond repairs. Over there, they are so ignorant; they still feel Africa is a jungle.
What’s that one bad habit you picked up from your dad?
I easily get angry. Even though I am calm and easy going, the slightest things get me angry. My dad is a little bit short-fused; though age has mellowed him down a little. I think we all took that from him.
What positive things did you take from him?
We are very focused in anything we want to do, and I am sure all of us have that fighting spirit; the never-say-die attitude. We are also people-friendly.
Are you a Christian?
I am, but I am not a regular church goer. I don’t like being forced to go to church. I don’t feel good about the fact that I don’t go to church anyway. In our family, we are more spiritual than religious.