DANG: First of all, introduce yourself.
Yemisi Falaye: My name is Yemisi Falaye. I’m a lawyer. I was called to bar in 2005 and I’ve been practising law since then. I did my service year at the law firm where I work now, ACAS Law firm and got retained. I started working fully in 2007. I’ve been with them ever since. I’m a senior counsel of the firm and I head the entertainment law group of the firm. The entertainment law group used to be part of, well; it’s still part of the corporate commercial group/intellectual property unit of the firm. Until the department became a standalone.
DANG: The entertainment group, did it have something to do with you performing well…?
Yemisi Falaye: Yes. Prior to the department standing alone, we had been doing one or two things for celebrities, a couple of them are my friends. We’ve been doing stuff for them on a corporate commercial law basis and intellectual department basis. The managing partner then was, Mr Folabi Cacs Martin, who is my direct boss, he decided to make the department stand alone because of the emergence of entertainment law or entertainment as a whole in the economy of Nigeria. We thought that it was an evolving market and we should concentrate on entertainment. He went ahead to make me the head of the department because entertainment is my forte and I have a cordial relationship with celebrities.
DANG: So, how long have you been head of the department?
Yemisi Falaye: About 3 years now, we started 2015.
DANG: How has it been?
Yemisi Falaye: It’s been awesome. I have found something I will always want to do. The entertainment law group keeps me going. It wakes me up in the morning, energizes me, it makes me want to go to work, makes me want to work. I love to see an agreement that has to do with entertainment law. I discovered that’s my flair, that’s my passion, that’s what I’ve always wanted to do.
DANG: What has given you the push you all this while? When there are hitches, timelines? What keeps you going?
Yemisi Falaye: Meeting timelines, crazy timelines have always been a part of me. I grew up in practice meeting terrible timelines. Meeting deadlines, being under pressure hasn’t been a problem for me because of my passion for entertainment and entertainment law.
DANG: So you are saying that if you have passion, you really don’t feel the pressure?
Yemisi Falaye: Exactly. It no longer becomes pressure. It no longer becomes work. You know, like comedians, it is work for them but then again, it is a hobby. For musicians, it is work for them but then again, it is a hobby and talent. That’s how it is for me as an entertainment lawyer. Entertainment law and entertainment law related agreements are like food to me. As a matter of fact, when I receive an email from my clients it gives me lots of joy. It gets me excited.
DANG: It took you 8 years to get here.
Yemisi Falaye: Yes. I think God actually has a purpose for all of this. I believe that, because, prior to 2015, work was work. Getting up to work every day was a real chore. But at the point where I personally discovered entertainment law, work now became or has become a pleasure for me. It’s become a passion for me. I find rest. I’m laughing. I meet my deadlines. Nobody needs to put me under any form of pressure. As a matter of fact, I now begin to put people under pressure because I want to impress my clients. So, I’m thankful to God; albeit late, but I’m still thankful to God.
A lot of people say to me that “finally, Yemisi you’ve found your passion…” I’m glad that I’ve eventually found it. And I’m pursuing it.
DANG: What do you go back to when it’s crazy?
Yemisi Falaye: I turn to God. I’m a very spiritual person. It’s amazing the kind of things that I “disturb God for”. The minutest things ever like where to park when I attend a party. I talk to God about everything. Most especially, when I’m worn out because, to be honest, it does get tiring. In my down time, I find rest in God and if it is work related I sort it out with my colleagues.
DANG: Entertainment law in Nigeria is not really keyed into in Nigeria. Can you explain more to my readers about it?
Yemisi Falaye: In the past creatives and entertainers did not see the need for entertainment lawyers but the narrative is changing now. It is never just an agreement to read and sign, it is important to consult a lawyer to avoid signing a deadly deal. Some agreements are capable of wiping out an entertainer’s career this is why it is important to hire a lawyer, let the lawyer guide you how to hire a business manager, road manager, record label and some. At the end of the day, you focus on your craft while the lawyer handles the nitty-gritty of the business side of it for you
DANG: So who and what do you cover as an entertainment lawyer?
Yemisi Falaye: I do everything. I deal with musicians, I deal with actors, I deal with bloggers, I deal with creative’s generally; songwriters, authors, sportsmen and women, everybody generally.
DANG: Who are your clients right now?
Yemisi Falaye: On my roaster right now, I have Toke Makinwa; incidentally, she is my first client and then I have Chidinma, Adekunle Gold, I have Small Doctor. I have Ice Prince, Waje, Beverly Naya and more.
DANG: Do you handle cases outside of entertainment law?
Yemisi Falaye: Yes. Absolutely. Entertainment law is just part of what I do. I still do intellectual property law; I do some form of corporate and commercial related law. I do company secretarial work as well. I do immigration law. I’m all-encompassing.
DANG: What edge do you think you as a person have over everybody?
Yemisi Falaye: For me, I tell my clients that when I say it, I mean it. “You have my 24 hours”. You can reach me at any point in time. I don’t see my clients as just clients. I befriend them and I try my best to make them comfortable around me. That way, they can confide in me to tell me what they are going through and I can give them a clear and objective advice. I am a friendly person which makes it easier for me. My clients can reach me at any time of the day even if it’s 1 am and I work very hard to meet their needs. No brags. That’s the truth.
DANG: I know people will have questions about being an entertainer. So what advice do you have for them?
Yemisi Falaye: The first thing is to focus more on the work aspect. The work will make you go for those shows. You can’t afford to mix it with play. Your diligence and your hard work will attract the glamour of the work to you.
DANG: I’m a lawyer and I want to go into entertainment. What part of Law should I focus on?
Yemisi Falaye: Do corporate commercial law. Become a transaction lawyer. I hate courts. I’ve never been to court. Litigation is not my forte. Focus your attention on corporate commercial law where you will be taught all forms of agreement; tenancy law, property law, telecommunication, tax, every form of law asides criminal law.
Expose yourself to all forms of contracts and specification of law. That way you will be well grounded and you will have sufficient knowledge that will be helpful to your clients. Spread your wings and don’t limit yourself to entertainment law.
Don’t limit yourself to entertainment law. I didn’t start with entertainment law. I was doing and I am still doing all forms of law. That has made advising my clients and doing entertainment law a piece of cake for me.
DANG: Have you had conflicts about your faith and law sometimes?
Yemisi Falaye: I have never had conflicts between my faith and my work. I work in a firm where our core values are; integrity, creativity, and excellence. These three items are somewhat God related. Creativity is of God, excellence is of God, integrity is of God as well.
DANG: So, you are a single woman working hard, how old are you?
Yemisi Falaye: I’ll be 38 in September. 37, now.
DANG: Do you ever get people making assumptions of what you do? Do you feel pressured?
Yemisi Falaye: I’ll tell you a quick story. I remember when I was going to buy my first car; I was going to buy a brand new car. I remember somebody saying to me, “Oh Yemisi, you are a young girl. You are not married yet, I don’t think you should buy a brand new car. I think you should just buy a Golf 3 that would cost you lesser than a brand new car. So don’t chase guys away from you.
I said to him, whether married or single, I would enjoy my life. I love the good life nothing is going to stop me from having a good time. I live once and I must make the best of it.
DANG: Have you ever pressured yourself?
Yemisi Falaye: There was a time in my life when I did. I would attend almost all singles program in every church. I have stopped doing that now. In fact, I rarely pray about it. Whatever happens, I’m good. That’s the point I’m in right now. If you pray for me, I’d say Amen. If I remember to pray about it, I pray about it. But I have stopped putting myself under pressure to get married. All I want to do right now is to advance in my career. And make money, good money.
DANG: In five years, where do you see yourself?
Yemisi Falaye: In five years, I will own the best and the only properly structured record label in Africa. And guess what? It’s going to be an artist-friendly record label because most record labels are not artists friendly.