Most people would not jump straight out of bed into an interview they did not realize was going to be on camera – but Cheyenne Ewulu is not most people.
She’d agreed to an interview even though she’d never heard of our fledgling website when we slid into her email.
Yes, you read right. Email. No sliding into the DMs over here because, yeah… we’re all serious and official like that – even if we did neglect to clearly state that the interview was a video call.
But I digress…
Never one to not blaze a trail, Cheyenne is a force to be reckoned with who is able to take all aspects of her passion and identity and turn that into a charismatic and engaging on-screen persona. She has interviewed K-Pop stars and bested random strangers who took her on over her anime knowledge in a journey that saw her go from co-creating the Pretty, Brown and Nerdy entertainment brand to working on-camera with Viz Media and Funimation.
Whether she’s making short films in California or challenging Star Wars star (and fellow child of Nigerian immigrants) John Boyega to an anime Anime Mug Challenge, Cheyenne blazes her own way through life with a “who dares wins” attitude that has seen her pitch for a nostalgia-fueled trip down anime memory lane turn into Funimation Flashback.
Cheyenne flaunts her passion and stays winning.
During our Fast Five questions quiz and the subsequent interview, we got a glimpse into her love for anime and why, as the child of immigrant parents, she relates more to Todoroki than any other anime character.
What was the first anime you ever watched?
The first anime ever watched. I really think it was Tenchi. Tenchi Muyo? On Toonami, they had Tenchi Muyo and I think that was the first anime I watched. I remember my older sister flicking through the TV [channels]. And I saw the character Ryoko and I pretended like I knew it just so she would stop flicking the TV, like changing the channel and I was like just stop it on there. And since then, I was like, Oh, what is this? Like? What is this Toonami? Like, what’s what’s happening? So I think it was either Tenchi Muyo or it was it had to have been Dragonball Z, but I feel like it was Tenchi Muyo and then I dove into DBZ.
What’s your top three anime of all time?
Okay, um, top three Anime for sure is Death Note, DBZ is my number one like, [you can] fight me on it. I don’t care.
So DBZ, Death Note and definitely… Damn, top three is so hard. I never do top three. So who deserves that third spot? I’m just gonna say I’m just gonna say Fullmetal Alchemist for now.
What anime character do you feel most inspired by?
Oh, ooh, definitely Todoroki from My Hero [Academia]. I feel like Todoroki honestly reminds me of a Nigerian kid growing up with immigrant Nigerian parents. Endeavour reminds me so much of my dad and like so many ways. And so like Todoroki himself just like I resonate with him so bad like so much.
Is this… You said “my hero”. Is that My Hero Academia?
At this point Cheyenne is surprised and good-naturedly challenges the question. She wants to know why Dapo, who asked it, has anime characters all over his background but has no clue about the show considering how global a phenomenon it is today.
She’s not about to let such dreadful ignorance slide.
Dr. Ajao confesses to being the “anime noob” of the group and I inform her that Dapo is the group’s “anime antagonist” . Unbeknownst to her, he had set up the background image – which featured Marvel characters squaring up against superhero manga characters – to provoke a reaction.
Well, to my amusement, he got one.
Dapo then reveals that he asked because his sons’ want him to watch My Hero Academia. And after Cheyenne’s description, Dapo has food for thought about their motives for the recommendation. “And I’m wondering if that is because of what you just said? Am I that African dad?”
We all burst out laughing at the idea of Dapo as the stereotypical African father. If you saw Dapo cosplaying as Thor Odinson you would laugh at the thought too.
Cheyenne veers the conversation back to her point and after confirming that I’ve seen My Hero Academia, she asks me for my take.
I had never thought about it before, but I had to agree with her that the emotional pressures of Todoroki’s relationship with Endeavor were similar to the typical challenges of being raised by immigrant African dads – the father who has difficulty showing that he actually does care about his child beyond the ability to meet his high expectations.
Cheyenne made me want to go rewatch Boku No Hero.
Which anime character do you most want to marry?
Oooh. Fuuhh… There’s so many!
In a heartbeat? Definitely I got to go with the O.G. Trunks from Dragonball Z cuz honestly, nine year old me will not let me not say that. So as much time as I spent fangirling over him as a kid. It has to be him.
Future Trunks though. Future Trunks! Let’s clarify before somebody drags me online.
What is the first anime you would recommend for anyone who has never watched anime?
First anime experience? Honestly the easiest thing I could say is watching Death Note just because everybody seems to like that gore. And it has more of a realistic story behind it but also with supernatural elements. Well not even supernatural because that’s like a whole thing in Japan with the Shinigami and the legend of the Shinigami and things like that.
But you know I would say Death Note because obviously they adapted it into a shitty American film for a reason – because they thought more of a wider audience would accept it. So I would say death note for sure. [If you’ve never watched anime, go] watch Death Note. And watch the real Death Note not the movie.
Besides hosting Funimation Flashback, Cheyenne is also a fledgling movie director with some film festival selections under her belt. After you watch her directorial debut in the horror short ‘Ex-Roommate‘, chances are you’ll find yourself recommending it to others. Cheyenne can be found online everywhere at @CheyenneTheGeek – all one word.