There is more to Antoniette Munirat Lecky better known as “Anto Lecky” than being a former housemate of Big Brother Naija or having an Instagram celebrity with over 900,000 thousand followers on Instagram.
Anto graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she studied Exercise and Sports Science before going on to bag a dual Master’s degree from the Devos Sports Business Management Programme at the University of Central Florida – Master of Business Administration and Master of Sports Business Management.
In this chat with The Guardian Life, she talks about her passion for sports, life after Big Brother Naija, supporting women and more.
At what point did you decide it was time to return to Nigeria and what prompted this decision?
After working for a few years after my Masters, I was looking for the next challenge and I knew I wanted to live in Nigeria for some time at some point in my life.
My sister had her first child and I wanted to be part of my niece’s life because my sister and I didn’t grow up together, so she suggested I try Nigeria out for one year. I completed my service year in 2014-2015 but ran away immediately because Nigeria truly dealt with me. Back in the US, something kept drawing me back to Nigeria.
I read an article about the launching of a private basketball league in Lagos and I knew that it was my calling. After various messages on different platforms, I was able to reach the CEO of the league, told him he needed me for his company, and the rest is history. I have been back since 2016.
You were the head of Basketball Operations in CBL, is this a position you still hold and how did it come about?
It was my first major managerial role. I have had managerial positions but I was top three in CBL. It was both challenging and exciting. It is something I always wanted to do, being a leader in the sports industry and it came with the bonus of doing that in Africa.
Since it was the first professional private basketball league in Africa, there were no rule books on who to get things done, so it was great to be able to create the template but also very stressful because there were no specific examples to look to. Besides the usual stressors of the workplace, I was also a young woman working in a male-dominated, unstructured industry.
For someone who appears heavily invested in sports, do you play any yourself?
I don’t. I am a disgrace (smiles) but I ran in high school. I have always been more interested in the business side of most things including sports.
How can sports development be promoted in Nigeria?
Privatising sports in Nigeria is the best way to help the industry. In the countries where sports is flourishing, their leagues are all private; people with the time, education, and finances to support the industry. We have the talents, we just need better facilities and more dedication to the cause.
We still have people in the country who believe sports is only a hobby and not an actual career. That notion needs to be broken and sports need to be taken seriously. Sports is “run” by the government in Nigeria; while strides have been made in recent time, we need people truly committed to developing sports to be in charge.
What has your journey as a salary earner to being an entrepreneur been like?
Being an entrepreneur is not easy. I miss receiving a salary at the end of the month but I always knew that I would have my businesses and do my own thing. I am grateful that I am an entrepreneur by choice and that I’m doing what I love.
For many entrepreneurs in Nigeria, they go into business because they could not find employment. If you don’t truly have a passion for your business, it can be extremely hard. I own a haircare line, event management company, gifting brand, and I do creative consulting. These are all these I am extremely passionate about and have been doing for years.
What is your take on women supporting women based on past experiences?
From an emotional standpoint, it is good and important for women to support each other because many of us go through similar plights, from body issues, marriage, pregnancy, life in general.
From a business standpoint, it is still important for women to support each other because women are the true economic drivers of any working society. However, for some reason, there is the notion of women being their worst enemies. Since I became a public figure, women have been the ones to say the worst things about me. Maybe because I am a woman, what my fellow women say to me hurt more because I expect better from them. However, I do believe until women are more on a solid front together, the fight for gender equality will still be a long one.
What are some of the projects you have been up to since leaving BBNaija?
I have launched my three businesses. I have been acting, hosting, modelling, and influencing brands. I am in a film currently in cinemas, Dear Affy. I am the lead actress in a film, May 29, coming out later this year.
I have also been able to work on philanthropic projects such as mental health awareness and girl child and women’s rights, which was my main reason for going on the show. I wanted to use the platform to increase my chances of effecting change in the world and it is happening!
Does anything feel different about your life since celebrating 30 a few months back?
Maybe because of my looks or just my overall mindset, I forget that I am 30. I feel much younger than that. I don’t remember my age until I find out the age of people who I thought were younger than me.
Nothing feels different with the new age. I have just made a conscious decision to be more selfish in my actions. I have always supported people, sometimes to my detriment. I am getting older so I need to take more care of myself as well.