A second-year UTM student, Tobi Ogude is far from limited to academics. Some may recognize him from EDSS and UTMDC’s “Slam and Chill” poetry slam event, where he performed three of his works.

Ogude defines himself through different mediums of art. You can find him in the Student Centre giving people hugs or in Dr. Brent Wood’s office after hours, sharing his poetic works with his fellow poets.

The Medium: What is your major?

Tobi Ogude: I was in commerce last year, but I switched because it wasn’t for me. I am trying to get into Digital Enterprise Management, but if that doesn’t work out, I will go into CCIT. I’m just trying things out for now, seeing where life takes me.

TM: What do you want to do with your degree?

TO: I want to save some money so I can go into acting. DEM is really just media studies and management mixed together into one program. My major will help me manage things in film, graphic design, and directing. I am interested in photography, film, and acting. A lot of my friends say that they see a director in me, but I don’t know if I have the ability to do that. Regardless, I think DEM will help me manage my hobbies so I can eventually turn them into a career.

TM: Is being a writer or performer in your long-range plans?

TO: Oh yes, absolutely. Acting is something I definitely want to pursue, whether it’s theatre or film. I’m leaning more towards film, but starting off in theatre would be a good lead for me.

TM: Where does your inspiration come from?

TO: People. I believe I can read people’s characteristics—what makes them tick, why they do certain things. Just by looking at someone, I can understand a bit of their backstory. I don’t judge people; I observe them. That is what drives my poetry. This process starts with myself. I try to [see] myself in the person I am looking at or interacting with. I try to put myself in their situation so I gain a better understanding of who I am and bring that forth in my poetry.

TM: Do you have any idols or artists that you look up to?

TO: People certainly inspire me. I also get a lot of my inspiration from a spoken word artist named Jason Petty, also known as Propaganda. His pieces derive from his Christian faith, which shapes the way he looks at things. I’ve been listening to him for years. The way I act, the way I articulate myself, and the way I present myself on stage are all inspired by him. From this, I was able to find who I am as a performer and as an artist. He is definitely my inspiration for spoken word.

As for music, I have a favourite rapper, named Lacrae. I wouldn’t consider him an idol, but he is someone who really shaped the way I look at life, and the lens in which I view things. I first discovered Lacrae in 2005. My whole childhood consisted of me listening to his music. Lacrae is also the front man of a group called the 116 Clique. I look up to the 116 Clique because they have a saying: “You should never be ashamed of who you are”, and I try to live by that.

In terms of people I look up to, my parents obviously. They have shaped who I am and I am grateful for them every day.

TM: What are your other passions?

TO: Besides music, poetry, and film, I love photography. I am also trying to do some modeling. I’m at that point in my modeling career where I have to pay to get my photos taken. I like it though because I am investing in myself. I also love fashion. It is my way of showing the world who I am on the outside. It’s really just another way in which I can express myself.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.