We met Joyce Daniels at the 2014 Port Harcourt World Book Capital, and I knew she was a world of good. For the delectable and striking master of ceremonies and writer, armed with an arresting voice, she is passionate advocating for the development of the stand-up compere profession. In this interview with Damilola Ogunnaike, Opemipo Akinsoyinu and Emon Adejobi, the Certified Trainer for Dale Carnegie & Associates Incorporated shares her passion, the secrets of being a terrific master of ceremonies, her inspiring future plans and spiritual inclinations.
After spending her formative years reading books and ending up with a Master’s degree in English, it was inevitable that Joyce should be a master of ceremony. Her pure and simple delight in the art form has seen her travel the world with her eclectic love at a time it was less popular.
Sitting under the influence of the well-travelled Joyce Daniels’ soft, soulfully captivating voice, no doubt, relives sensational memories of the eighties. Joyce has travelled the world, been part of a swinging society and rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous.
For a well-travelled Niger-Delta compere, here accent gives her roots away.
Giving a peep into her family lineage, childhood and growing up, she says: ‘‘I am the fifth of seven children, born to John and Nancy Oamen. I am married to Oladapo Daniels, mother to a wonderful boy, David Daniels, minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, certified Dale Carnegie Trainer and Master of Ceremonies. I bagged a B.Sc. Human Anatomy, University of Port Harcourt Nigeria. Growing up was loads of fun for me, in Port Harcourt City, with wonderful family and friends. I have many happy memories.’’
There is a pause, no whispering, but a highly infectious, though skeletal, smile.
Unlike her contemporaries who usually have unpleasant childhood memories, same which no doubt have in one way or the other influenced their thinking and growing up as a result of dysfunctional families. The flipside it is for the notable compere. The lady of few but strikingly picky words tells the tale in these words: ‘‘I have parents who never imposed choices; they rather supported and encouraged us to follow whatever paths we desired. And so, that really helped me, seeing that I’ve chosen quite an unusual profession.’’
From a distance, you might mistake her for a quiet person, but the woman of talk has had her share of trouble making in her growing old days. After laughing out loud and uncontrollably too with a view to fielding the questions, these admitted response flow effortlessly as she crouches beside the journalist’s stool, she mutters earnestly, “Yeah, you can say I was the child who seemed to get into trouble more than others. I was never a quiet child and I heard people say to me ever-so-often ‘Joyce you talk too much’. It did hurt sometimes though, but the ‘too much talk’ paid off.”
Asked what fond memories she remembered as a growing child/ adult, she concentrates intently on the clustered phones, digital voice recorder and notepad on the table, she says, gazing at an oil painting on her wall in her luxuriously furnished sitting room, “The fond memories are so many, but, maybe, my fondest memories would be ‘having us all sit round the dining table having a meal’. I totally love family gatherings.’’
The compere just like any other person undoubtedly had a penchant for and disliked some subjects in secondary school. For a reply so simple and straight, it no doubt tells the reason for her final career choice. “My best subjects remain English and Biology. I don’t think I had a worst. Well, maybe Fine Art in junior secondary, because I was never good at it.”
After taking time to attend to an urgent phone call, she appears from one wing of the sitting room and shuffles slowly across the table, takes her seat with the enthusiastic air of a young lady reclaiming her favourite armchair to share some silly things she did while growing up, that made her parents laugh and/or scold her. “My siblings and I, led by my one of my older sisters, would act plays for my parents in the living room. I usually had major roles and always made my folks laugh.”
Ask her if she had any regrets about her eventual choice of study, with a voice so sure and a gesticulated demeanour, she replies, “Oh, not at all.”
Fielding the question as to when her happiest and saddest moments were, she says, surprisingly, ‘‘the question sounds funny, but I think I’m always happy.”
Getting down to the nitty-gritty of the business of compering/pubic speaking, she tells the reporter how it all began: “The first event I ever compered was The First Lady’s Children’s Concert in 1991, organised by the then First Lady, Mrs. Maryam Babangida. After then, I compered many other events - including weddings, for fun, through my secondary school and university days. Getting into it professionally though wasn’t till November 2007 when an event planner - Ndidi Obioha - introduced me to her clients (Sleek Hair & Makeup) for their product launch which held on Sunday, 11th November, 2007. I think that was the defining moment for me; that was when I agreed with myself and God to forge ahead with compering as a profession.”
This question popped up as a follow-up: Did you ever think your first outing would do as well as it did? Adroitly popping back at me is a sure and confident reply, ‘‘At the risk of sounding immodest, yes I did, although it is not my childhood dream at all. I wanted to be a doctor because I believed it to be the noblest profession.”
Though not her childhood dream, she today feels fulfilled doing what she does with a view to greater things ahead.
Recounting the tale of the job which gave her worth more than a ‘real’ pay-cheque: “Sleek Hair and Makeup Launch, November 2011, the ‘pay-cheque’ could not be exchanged for cash, as I received a very reasonable quantity of Sleek products and distributorship which was worth more to me then, than any ‘real’ pay-cheque.’’
For the job which gave her the most mileage across varying audiences, and was most financially rewarding, she says,
“The Rivers State Investors’ Forum 2011. Yes it was private sector-funded and was financially rewarding.”
As a concerned events compere and public speaker, she gives a peep into the future of her trade in the Nigerian sector as compared to global playing standards: “I strongly believe we have very strong and bright prospects. For example, there is now an academy in Port Harcourt City called ‘Talkademy’ which is a training/finishing school for masters of ceremonies. The courses covered include vision, elocution, public speaking, dynamics of compering and making money as an MC. The academy instills professionalism, producing MCs with world-class standards. As we initially had Schools of Nursing, Colleges of Education churning out professionals, then we began to have B.Sc. Nursing and B.Ed. in universities, we’re gradually having professional MCs graduate from the academy. I strongly believe that in the near future, certificate programmes in compering will be available at universities, probably under the Faculty of Humanities.”
Describing some of the frustrations she’s had with the way clients approach her line of business earlier on the job, she declares, “earlier on, clients didn’t appreciate the function of an MC and were not willing to pay for valuable service, but that’s gradually changing.”
Away from serious matters, we chronicle her married life,
“I have been married for five years now. And life in marriage has been very interesting. I met my husband in church, and we remained mere acquaintances for 13years.”
For every woman, something attracts them to a man. For Joyce Daniels, her attraction to her husband and the man of her dreams stems from ‘‘His love for God and passion for ministering the Word.”
Breaking the once conventional ‘born-again’, though archaic norm, the sharp-shooter in her husband does things differently, she discloses how he proposed to her. “At a restaurant, on our very first time out together, it was a lunch date on Sunday, 19th April, 2009. That day, his club, Chelsea FC, was playing in the English F.A. Cup final with Everton FC and won. He asked so many questions about my plans for life and told me about his. When he saw that we really did have a lot in common, he popped the question. I said yes and we were married in November – seven months later.’’
Taking stock of life at this point, she looks with a sense of fulfillment, saying, ‘‘not a single regret. Every experience of the past has shaped and prepared me for today and for my future. No regret whatsoever.’’
Looking forward, she celebrates her motivation in these words:
“I’m highly motivated by the fact that I’m blessed by God with a natural talent. I no doubt consider my speaking ability a talent, and I want to make the most of it, whether as an MC, a Dale Carnegie trainer or a minister, teacher and preacher of God’s Word. I’m motivated by the fact that I desire to be a part of ‘the solution’, not a part of ‘the problem’.”
Expectedly of a fruitful career, blessed family and life, she operates same on select rules, guiding principles and philosophy of life. “I have several, but permit me to mention two; ‘If you can’t fly, run; can’t run, walk; can’t walk, crawl; by all means keep moving.’ ‘Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.’’
The parable of Jack’s all work and no play, no doubt, applies to Joyce, as she discusses relaxation after work. Fortunately, work is play for her, she says. “Honestly, work, for me, is also play. When I’m not working, I chill with my family, read and sometimes see a movie or two.”
As an internationally sought-after corporate compere with tight schedules flying across the world, the question is how she maintains an exceptionally strong bond with her husband and son. She says, “We have a very good understanding about what I do. My husband and son totally understand the sacrifices my job entails, we talk all the time to keep abreast of happenings and, finally, prayers; loads of it.”
The reporter quizzes her on how she handles sexual advances from men, being a pretty and young married woman, she responds with “I get this question all the time (laughs). I may be wrong but I think my job as an MC puts me on a pedestal of ‘control’ and that ‘scares’ men off, so believe it or not, I hardly ever get advances from men while on the move. Those who do try usually apologise and move on soon as they know I’m married.”
With a good sense of fashion and style, though not daring and would never be caught dead wearing a micro-mini, she speaks of what influenced same. “Thanks for the notice and compliment. I learnt from my friend’s mum – Mrs Anaeto – that fashion and style are age and size-determined; so I wear only things I’m very comfortable in, fit my body shape and are age-appropriate.”
For Joyce Daniels, the business end of compering does not disturb nor interfere with her creative attitude.
Telling of the blood-line gift of public speaking, she intones,
“I think I can say my dad is, because he has always had responsibilities that caused him to ‘speak’. He has always been a leader in church, he was a very vibrant Rotarian. He’s now a Marriage and Family Matters Counsellor, so he is always ‘speaking’ before crowds. My husband pastors, so is also a ‘public speaker’, ministering God’s Word.”
Asked which famous international figure she admires and why, her spiritual inclinations come to bear, as she replies, “Jesus Christ – He spoke to and before mighty crowds and always left them better off than He met them.”
For a job like hers, having to deal with a mammoth crowd can stir fear and trepidation, she tells of how she handles mistakes during work. “If it’s not an obvious mistake, I carry on as though nothing happened. If it is obvious, I apologise, quickly, emphatically, try to make the correction if possible, and move on.”
From the above, one can tell she has been holistically influenced and mentored by some notable people. She reels out her major influencers on the job: “Not just on the job per se, but people dear to my heart who generally influence me toward excellence and greatness – my husband – Oladapo Daniels; my parents – Elder John and Elder (Mrs) Nancy Oamen, Dr David Oyedepo, Mrs Adesuwa Onyenokwe, Ali Baba GCFR, Arc Jumoke Adenowo, Mr. Soni Irabor, Mrs Dayo Benjamins-Olaniyi, Joyce Meyer, Ms Mediline Tador and Patrick Nwakogo (Country MD, Dale Carnegie Nigeria) and Dale Carnegie of blessed memory.”
Sharing some life lessons and experience she has learned that she wished she knew a few years ago, she enthuses: “Oh yes of course, we learn everyday and in my case, I had no full time MC to model, so I’ve learnt quite a number of things on the job; from past errors, observing others and doing some research. One thing I would mention is the act of record-keeping and saving photos/videos from past events for reference and posterity.”
Joyce Daniels has worked with some well-established
training companies in Nigeria, delivering/facilitating
presentation skills and hospitality etiquette courses for
client organisations. She has been in the training field for almost six years. Joyce Daniels has worked with government agencies such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA) to deliver trainings in presentation skills for senior and entry-level staff and hospitality clients.