Jared is one of the children of self-styled ‘common-sense revolution’ senator, Ben Murray-Bruce. He talks about his father with OLUSHOLA RICKETTS
do you do at present?
I am currently the Executive Director of Silverbird Group and I consider myself a very creative person. I once worked in a production studio in Los Angeles, United States of America.
Why did you return to Nigeria?
Nigeria is always my home. I lived in Nigeria when I was younger and I saw that there were many opportunities in the country. In the entertainment industry alone, there is a huge potential for growth and business initiatives in the industry are growing rapidly. I felt the need to play my part in this growth and I knew working for a company like the one owned by my father would give me such opportunity.
Also, the entertainment industry in the US is structured and the competition is huge. Major companies know the path they are going while the smaller ones suffer. But since the industry is still growing in Nigeria, there are more opportunities and one can easily determine where the market points to.
How was growing up like as Murray-Bruce’s son?
I had lots of fun as a kid. I am from a large family; so, most of my memories were the times spent with my family members. My uncles, aunties and cousins stayed in the same place; I grew up in Victoria Island and Ikoyi, both in Lagos.
But when I first moved to Nigeria, there was a bit of culture shock. I was born in Georgia and moved to Nigeria when I was 10. I lived in Nigeria for six years before going to the US for high school and university education.
How would you describe your father?
He is a very peculiar man. He is highly driven and he takes his work very seriously. Growing up with him, I got to see the fun part of my father and how he relaxes. He has always been a big fan of Dean Martin and my mother complained bitterly about it. Early in the morning, while growing up, my father would play Dean Martin’s song even when we were yet to wake up fully.
Apart from that singer, he is also a great fan of James Brown and Fela. Like I said earlier, till date, my mother doesn’t find it funny whenever he plays these songs. But my father is the kind of man who hardly listens to anyone. Once he likes something, you can do little or nothing to change him; it is his personality. This is exemplified in his passion for entertainment and current position as a senator.
My father is charming and funny. No matter who you are, he can use you as the theme of his jokes. Even if the person is the president of a country, he doesn’t mind taking a few jabs at him or her. He can be a bit laid-back once he is home. But if he has something to do, regardless of the time, you will see him making calls and trying to speak with people.
Did your father use the cane on his children?
Whenever it was necessary, he did. But my father doesn’t make use of a physical cane. He has the uncanny ability to lay down rules. He is very straightforward; he doesn’t mix his words and he tells you exactly how he feels whenever he feels wronged. We learnt from a young age that we could not try to talk our ways out of certain situations. He made that clear. But I think my mother has used the cane a few times.
How does he reward his children’s good deeds?
He has his ways. He will tell us he is proud and we could hang out as a family to spend a good time together. It is great to celebrate an individual’s achievement; celebrating together shows that we are all part of the team as a family.
Do you think you are under pressure to be as successful as your father?
Yes, there is pressure 100 per cent; I cannot deny that. But I try to ignore the adversity in front of me and the outside voices that tell me I need to do things in certain ways. All my life, I have taken things steadily and over time, those things always worked out.
Also, I have a good team and I trust them. Being a big company, I am not afraid to seek support whenever I need to. I understand that I cannot do everything alone.
How many siblings do you have?
I have three siblings. My elder brother also works in the company, while my younger brother is still in high school. I also have an elder sister.
How often do you spend time with your father?
The last time I saw him was two weeks ago, but we talk every day. Growing up, there were times we didn’t see him often because we were at different places at different times. But my father made efforts to spend time with us, especially during holidays.
How did your father develop an interest in entertainment?
He has always been interested in entertainment; I think entertainment is in his DNA. He told us stories of how he would sneak out of the house to watch concerts. This happened while he was growing up in Nigeria. Whenever he saw an opportunity to entertain people, he jumped at it.
Is he a good singer?
I have never heard him sing. I also don’t think facing the klieg lights is his calling though he is an amazing speaker. He does not need to write or rehearse a speech whenever he needs to address people. That is one of his organic talents. While he has no interest in singing or acting, my father has always been a producer. I believe production is an integral part of the creative industry.
Were there concerns when he decided to join politics?
We definitely had concerns as we knew Nigeria was not the easiest place to play politics. We were aware that there were dangers and repercussions of doing politics. But my father is strong-headed; when my father wants something, he goes for it. He has a very thick skin; you could say whatever you like about him and he wouldn’t move a bit. He always carried us along and talked about plans as well as visions. Like entertainment, he has always been interested in politics too.
How did his family celebrate his winning the election?
I don’t know if I remember the exact way we celebrated it. But of course, we were very excited for him as a family. It is always great to have the feeling that there is a success at the end of every effort you put into a work.
What do you think about your father’s ‘common-sense revolution’ series?
I know some people think he is controversial. Yes, he is very controversial. We live in a world where we have people with different opinions. With the help of social media, everyone can get their opinions out there but you shouldn’t expect everyone to agree with your ideas as well.
Certain people will always have issues with the things my father talks about in his common-sense series. I think what he does is to share things he feels strongly about. Of course, he does his research to back up his ideas. There will be elements of controversies, but it should not stop him from continuing to do what he feels is right.
Do you agree with his ideas?
I don’t necessarily agree with everything. But I am always supportive and I do enjoy the fact that we can sit down and debate things, and share our opinions. I will not agree with him on everything, but in my family, we are able to talk about things.
What are the things that get him annoyed?
He doesn’t like being told he cannot do something. That alone can get him annoyed, as he believes that there is nothing impossible to achieve if one puts one’s best into it.
Also, my father doesn’t like getting too close to people who are too negative. When you are too negative or too reserved when he is ready to do more, he may not be happy with you. He is always ready for new challenges.
Has been Murray-Bruce’s son opened doors for you?
Yes, there are certain things I have enjoyed because of my father’s popularity and success. It is in the nature of Nigerians to directly link one with one’s family or who one’s father or mother is. Sometimes, it opens doors for you. But sometimes too, you wish people can judge you based on who you are and not your family.
How do you feel when people link whatever you achieve to your father’s influence?
At times, it can be annoying. It means people don’t acknowledge one’s capabilities and the things one has achieved. I try not to let it bother me much, as it is just an opinion. All I do is to put in my best in everything I do. Even if I was perfect, people would still link my success to my father.
How does he relax?
I don’t know how many times I have seen him relaxing. He is always on the move. But he is a bit calm once you get him to the dining table to take a good meal.
Does he have a favourite food?
He likes plantain and stew a lot. I think it is one of his favourite meals. I have not seen him in the kitchen in a while. I don’t see him as a man who likes to cook.
What lessons have you learnt from your father?
My father has instilled in us lots of things while growing up. I have learnt not to take excuses from people; to communicate freely with people and be direct, especially when there is a conflicting situation. Also, he has taught me never to be too complacent in any situation I find myself. It could be work, relationship or any other thing. He believes one shouldn’t be too comfortable with one’s position as there are other opportunities waiting.
I have learnt from him the need to enjoy what one does. If you want to achieve more, you have to chase it and be ready to do it alone.
Do you intend to join politics someday like your father?
I am staying away from politics; he can handle politics for everyone in the family. Honestly, I don’t see myself or my siblings venturing into politics in the near future.
What do you think is the secret to his success?
It is his ability to identify what he wants and desire to achieve it at all cost. It is a unique attribute. Most people give up or look for other options when things become difficult. For my father, there is only one option and it has worked for him.
Also, he has a charming personality, which helps him. Once he walks into a room, you must feel his presence. Many people don’t have such a quality. I think these things make him very unique and stand him out.
What does he still wish to achieve?
Becoming a senator was one of the goals he actually laid out and he has achieved it. He is a bit of an explorer. There are still things he likes to try out.
But he has done well for himself. He is a pioneer member of the entertainment industry in Nigeria. I don’t think anyone in the sector has achieved as much as him. Even though he might not be involved in starting a record company or other cinemas, he opened up opportunities due to the steps he took. There was no single multi-screen cinema in Nigeria before Silverbird Cinemas. He showed people that it was a market they could explore and others tapped into it.
How did he react when you told him you found a wife?
He has always given me relationship advice randomly. When I told him I was getting engaged, he was quite excited and happy for me. He has always talked to me about developing a relationship and the need to build a happy future.
Do you think he has done well as a senator?
Given a chance to vote him again as a senator, I will do so 100 per cent. He has a genuine passion for the things he wants to achieve and the things he fights for. Though some of the things could be difficult to attain in the political landscape of Nigeria, he is committed and has the passion to improve the lives of people around him.
Do you share anything in common with him?
I will like to think I have a little interest in public speaking, which I definitely inherited from him. We both like music, but we have different tastes. I listen to all kinds of music, unlike my father who likes certain music. Though I listen to the kind of music my father likes too, it is not a regular thing. I also think I have his desire to go for anything he wants to achieve regardless of the challenges ahead.
What would you want to change about him if you have the opportunity?
I cannot really say; but as a son, it will be nice if at times he could pull away from work and take time to relax.
Do you have a nickname for your father?
We don’t have a particular nickname for him; he is a father to us. One thing I tease him about is the ‘afro’ hairstyle he kept in the 70s; we have the photos at home.
Don’t you think his joining politics could affect his entertainment outfits?
There is no one that can replace him as the head of the company. He is well experienced and unique. But right now, I will say we still have great people who have improved the company. In politics, sometimes people use one’s position against one and make things more difficult for one. But I still feel we are in a very good position. We have capable people on the ground. They have the ability to drive the company forward.
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Source : https://punchng.com/dad-is-hard-to-change-once-he-makes-up-his-mind-murray-bruces-son/