As a television presenter, social media star and model, AJ Odudu has a stellar career, but she has struggled when it comes to finding a man to share her success with.
Since turning 30, AJ, who moved from Blackburn to London 10 years ago, says she has felt like there is ‘a hole in her life’ without love.
At the major age milestone, she decided to enlist her outrageously lively mother, Florence, to help her find a husband to finally settle down with.
Drawing on the Nigerian tradition of parents arranging partners for their children, AJ and Florence embarked on a road trip around Nigeria in Channel 4’s Manhunting With My Mum.
AJ, one of eight children, told FEMAIL why she was keen to find ‘the one’ now, saying: ‘It basically stemmed from the fact that I was turning 30 to be totally honest. I had a bit of a meltdown.’
She continued: ‘I was always like “yeah you get old gracefully and whatever” but there’s something about that milestone age that puts everything into perspective and I was really reflective.
‘I was questioning what did I want, I wanted a career, I wanted to be travelling and all of those things but I also thought I would be married by now, or at least have a boyfriend!’
AJ’s mother, Florence, moved from Nigeria to Blackburn in the early 70s as part of an arranged marriage and has been with her father for over 40 years.
Florence is disappointed that AJ hasn’t settled down and given her grandchildren yet: ‘Because they are Nigerian, they had an arranged marriage years ago, they had eight children and they literally can’t imagine being 30 and not having children.’
AJ added: ‘She had five children by the time she was 30. She is like “how are you coping? Not only being single but having no children?” it is just so foreign to her.’
In the hilariously heartwarming programme, which airs on Tuesday night, Florence takes matters into her own hands and sets her daughter up with potential suitors.
They include handsome Nollywood star Timini, 30, a besotted Prince Joshua, 34-year-old celibate churchgoer KC and musician Isaac.
The TV presenter explained that the values in Nigeria were strikingly different to what she is used to in the western world – the traditional roles of men being the breadwinners and women as the homemakers is something that is still very much expected.
It was something AJ initially found irksome: ‘At first I felt it was so foreign and thought these values were so off and I didn’t agree with anything at all.
‘I was talking to the Nigerian musician [Isaac] and he was telling me that my career was secondary to his, but then on reflection I felt like at least he was being honest.’
AJ joked that while she learned that’s something she certainly didn’t want, it helped her to realise that she did want someone who was devoted to her, honest and well-travelled.
She said UK men offered a stark contrast: ‘Guys lead you on here. They sell you dreams, they promise you the world. Then, as you fall in love with them, they let you down.’
After being hurt in the past, AJ said she had built up emotional walls, but now she’s ready to let them down and has even given some serious thought to following in her mother’s footsteps with an arranged marriage.
She explained that she would be ‘much more open to it now’ but it is something she would ‘never have considered’ ten years ago.
And did AJ find the right man in Nigeria?
‘Well, I’ve stayed in touch with the Nollywood actor Timini,’ she revealed adding that she wouldn’t be as dismissive of men in future.
‘He travelled and he’s experienced different cultures, he understands from the point of view that women over here tend to be a bit more career-driven and our sole purpose in life isn’t to be your wife.’