I’m Ibrahim Suleiman (Ibrahim Onimisi-Suleiman), Architect. Choreographer. Writer/Author/Poet. Tv Presenter. Content/Concept Developer. Voice Over Artist. Aspiring Chef. Foodie. I am basically all of the above by talent or by training and it makes for a pretty interesting existence. I am still on the long journey to discover which one of them is the true “Me”. I was born on 25 September, 1983, Kaduna, Northern Nigeria, but originated from Edo State. I studied Architecture in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. I always loved architecture, the way one space led to another. It’s not just about building; it’s about creating an experience with building.
I worked for a couple of years before deciding to go professional with dance. I’ve been dancing for 11 years. I’m a choreographer, writer and dancer. I’m also into graphics. I get bored easily so I find stuff to do hence the numerous talents. It’s a long story. I started dancing at age 18 and I was already in the university. I never used to dance so you could say I was influenced by my friends who were quite interesting people.
There was no official training as there isn’t any established dance school for my style which is basically hip hop but a blend of different styles. I think that creating my own style is why I’ve grown so much in the industry.
The only person I had to talk with is my mother. I told her of my intention to try this out while I could as I wouldn’t be able to take such a risk when I’m thirty. She believed in me and so far it’s been great.
I didn’t want to wake up at age 35 and ask myself what if. I hate what ifs. I like adventure, experiencing new things and places. I was influenced by Michael Jackson’s performance at the MTV 1995 awards. I watched it over and over and a lot of images were burned into my head but I didn’t start dancing until my third year in the university. My friends started a dance crew ‘Xhibit’ and I had to fill in for one of them who had issues with the time for the rehearsals. When he couldn’t make it two days to the performance, I filled in for him and it was a wonderful experience. Things sort of moved on from there and my dance crew, ‘Soul Quest’ went on to win the first Malta Guinness street dance National championship 2008. We are from a faith group YWAP (Youths With A Purpose). There was a bit of hesitation going in for the competition but we prayed about it and God saw us through.
Ibrahim Onimisi-Suleiman Biography and Profile
In the Beginning
Thanks to YWAP, a non-profit, faith based organisation I’ve been a member for over 15 years. I was able to hone my skills at an event compere, dancer/choreographer, and playwright. In 2008, I and 5 members of SoulQuest (YWAPs dance department) participated in and won the Malta Guinness Street Dance Africa, after which we represented Nigeria in a few international meets. That was basically my first introduction to the entertainment industry. I went on to become brand ambassador for Malta Guinness, then did a bunch of dance inspired TVCs for MTN, GTBank, Unilever, etc.
Ibrahim Suleiman has also appeared in TV commercials for Peak Milk, GTBank, Malta Guinness, and MTN amongst others. The role he is perhaps most popular for is being the “Man In The Box” for MTN’s SME campaign. This project found Ibrahim staying a total of 87 hours straight in a billboard box and initiating a lot of conversation on social media.
From commercials to movies, Ibrahim Suleiman continues to prove that he is one name to watch out for in the industry and will not be limited to one particular skill. Ibrahim is an ace at a great number of things; being placed in a box, however, is not one of them.
The challenges of being a Choreographer
Respect for the art. Quite a number of dancers don’t understand that what they have is a unique ability. The dancers do not respect their art so people do not take the art seriously. Another thing is that because it is not an established industry so people do not ascribe value to it financially. They feel like you are doing dancers a favor but the art is evolving, just as it has with music. That is because some people came together to make music an organized body. People are not looking at the future but at the now. The world is music crazy, every human has rhythm and so dance has a potential to blow up.
Luckily, I’m blessed with a woman who is also a creative. So, she’s involved in my creative processes as I am in hers. We also thoroughly enjoy each other’s company, so we are steadily hanging out even at home. It feels like a continuous sleepover.
She and I had been friends for a few years before I landed a steady role on Tinsel (My first acting gig) and our characters play colleagues/lovers. So we went from seeing each other maybe once a quarter to seeing each other every week day on set. Over time, we became best buds and she almost brother zoned me! But I wasn’t having it. Put a ring on it as quickly as I could get her to say yes.
We are just two regular people who fell in love from best friends. And we were blessed enough to get a forever after.
To be honest, she always did say her parents were not tribalists, especially as they were both raised in the north.
So, from the get go, they were on board. My family is interesting because I have cousins who are Igbo, Yoruba, Delta, Plateau, Edo and even Dutch.
Never worried for a second. Love is a universal connector.
I and two other people I schooled with run our small Archi Firm, DeepSpaceInc. I have designed a couple of residential apartments, a family home, an office block and a creche/daycare. I plan to go back to architecture. I have people who I mentor and now I’m in a better position financially and mentally to start off my own firm. So in a couple of years, I plan to get back into architecture. I always loved architecture, the way one space led to another. It’s not just about building; it’s about creating an experience with building.
Every single year, Nollywood has pushed the boundaries. Growing year after year, with more and more quality in terms of writing, directing, producing, art direction, post production, talent management, everything. I’m excited about the immediate future.
I’m not a man of regrets; I don’t beat myself up if things go wrong, I just move on. I believe my steps are ordered by God; nothing is by my own doing and so far, I’m blessed to have the opportunity to build a career in dancing. I went pro in 2008 and have done better than most people expected. I’ve been dancing for 11 years and for me its part of God’s plan.
- Ibrahim Onimisi-Suleiman Biography and Profile (NG / TD)