Hitting 40 million views on YouTube, getting married to his childhood sweetheart, and becoming a father, all within the last 12 months, YouTube star, Tolulope Ogunmefun, is certainly living his best life!
However, with all of these major life changes, you can understand why he is gradually calling time on his popular alter ego, Don’t Jealous Me”, and his humorous skits on life as a young Nigerian man about town. These days, you will find him turning his considerable talents to acting, and more recently, he has penned his first book.
Inspired by the birth of his daughter, Tolulope decided he wanted to do something for his younger fans – write a children’s book! His book, The Frog and his Dancing Shoes, is a 40-page picture book about a frog who has a special talent for dancing and entertaining his friends with his dancing shoes. One friend is jealous and plans a sneaky trick to take the shoes away from the frog. Through patience and kindness, the frog teaches his friends the importance of recognising and celebrating talents in this cheerful story about sharing, forgiveness and friendship. Truths for people of all ages.
Read what Tolulope had to say when we caught up with him recently.
How does it feel being a dad?
It feels amazing. It actually feels so surreal going from it just being me and my Mrs to another person in the family, but I’m loving it. Obviously, the extra responsibility is making life very real, but it’s helping me focus my creative energy. Having my daughter Tiwa, and seeing her smile, definitely inspired me to write the book as before she was born I wasn’t even considering it.
We’ve watched your “Don’t Jealous Me” persona flourish over the years. Are there any similarities with the real you?
We are both funny, but apart from that, we are completely different. A lot of people don’t realize I’m just playing a character and I don’t even speak like that in real life. I’m an east London boy. About two years ago it started to almost be a curse especially as I said to people I want to go into acting and all people wanted me to do is the Don’t Jealous Me character. I wanted to show people that I’m more than that. This is when I took a step back from YouTube to focus on my acting and also show parts of my character on other social platforms like snapchat and Instagram. Now I’m at peace with DJM and I think people now know it’s just a character who brings laughter into their lives.
Why did you decide to author a children’s book?
I was inspired by my daughter. Having a child, something changes in you. It’s no longer about you anymore, it’s what can you do to inspire your children and other children. So, a month after she was born and with so many people telling me that their children love my comedy, I was able to unleash my creativity and make a children’s book that young children will enjoy. I also selfishly wanted, in a few years, for my daughter to show off and say to her friends: “Why don’t you read my daddy’s book?!”
How involved were you in the process?
I was very involved. What people don’t know is that the book took just four weeks to create from scratch. I was determined that I was not going to just let 2017 end without me accomplishing it. Sometimes you get an idea, but if you wait too long, doubt begins to creep in, you start listening to the naysayers, you start questioning if you can do it. So, me and my manager Andrew decided we were going to make this happen before we changed our minds and we gave ourselves a deadline of the end of November to put it together and I’m happy to say, despite the fact that we haven’t slept much over the last month, we did it.
What do you hope children will learn from the book?
The main message of the book is to not be jealous of others, that you should focus on the gifts you have because we all have gifts! I hope children will learn to love themselves and work on developing their gifts because every child is special!
How important is it for children, especially black boys, to enjoy reading?
It’s very important because knowledge is power and you can get so much knowledge from books!
What’s your favourite book/author? And why?
At the moment, I love inspirational books because I’m at the point in my life where it’s all about self-improvement and investing in one’s self. I’m reading a lot of T D Jakes books at the moment.
Can you tell us upcoming projects that you are currently working on?
This year has been good to me in that I finally had a breakthrough in acting. I star in SKY One’s new comedy series called Sick Note and I also star in BBC 3’s Man like Mobeen.