Over the years, Toyin Abraham Ajeyemi has transitioned from a Yoruba movie actor to one of Nollywood’s top-tier stakeholders. She has starred in some notable movies like; ‘Elevator Baby’ and the ‘Prophetess’ to mention a few. She also has some great motives to her credit and has won the hearts of many with the poise and charisma she exude on set.
Recently, she announced the release of her movie titled ‘Ijakumo’ which has set tongues wagging with expectations of yet another blockbuster. The movie features seasoned actors like; Kunle Remi, Bimbo Akintola, Lily Afe and Okunsaya Lolade. Ijakumo promises a lot of excitement and drama, one that is by far a peerless outing.
As a happily married woman, she admits that her greatest fear is losing her home.
In this interview with Media Room Hub, the free-spirited and happily married actor talks about her challenges in the industry so far and also shares insights into how she’s been able to overcome them. She reveals plans to discover more talents and give them equal opportunity to shine.
Q: Your new movie is out and I can see the excitement all over you and the cast, and the Nigerian social media space is already agog with noise about the new movie, what should we be expecting?
A: This is the third time I am saying this: I had a dream, yes, I actually saw this all in my dream. We were supposed to shoot another movie titled, Aje. At least I have a few artists that can bear me witness; Gabriel Afolayon and Kehinde Bankole have the script. And all my crew have a script. So we’ve gone to Oshogbo for recording, we have done everything. We were supposed to start shooting the following week, I slept and I saw it. And I saw people coming, and someone said to me why did you put this kind of story on YouTube. I opened my eyes and the first thing I did was to do a voice note from my other line to my other line. Uncle Steve, I said (to him), I want you to edit, because I knew he had time.
He said, I have to see your script and I sent it to him. Okay, I got Kenny Joseph to do the script, Kenny said this is one of the best storylines I have ever heard in my career and I said, wow! So, when I sent him the script. He just called me and I said, hello, Uncle Steve, are you okay? He said, where did you get this story from? I said I got it from my dream and he said it has to be a dream.
So obviously, it’s a movie, we have to put some things and we have to remove some things. I think Ijakumo is very close to my heart because a lot of things have been happening which have to do with pastors, and I want people to know that pastors are human just like us just like everybody and they are bound to make mistakes.
And I want everybody to know, don’t go to church or mosque to worship your pastor or your Imam- go there to worship your God.
I like to tell people we should be careful with the way we treat people while we are growing up because some past can come hunting you. I don’t want to say much if people can go and watch it because it is going to be at the cinema from the 23rd of December, 2022. It will be at all the cinemas in Nigeria.
Q: The lead actress in the movie Ijakumo is a new face in the industry, how did you discover her and why did you give her the role?
A: Actually, this year, I made up my mind about something. I said I want to become Afobaje, meaning the Kingmaker, the star maker. Her name is Lolade Okunsanya . I actually met Lolade on Instagram. The following season we did a movie, Prophetess, the movie is written by, Directed, owned by, and produced by Mr. Niyi Akinmolayan. I think Lolade saw the movie and liked it. She just posted omg I like this movie. Toyin Abraham did so well! I didn’t even know her. So someone sent the post to our Artists’ Group, to the film group. I have never spoken to her before, in fact, she screamed am I dreaming? And I’m like okay, I want you to be an actress. She said, please it is one of my dreams, but I don’t have the opportunity, I said okay, now you have the opportunity, I am going to call you for a movie soon. So I asked for her number, and she sent it to me. So I called her for my Youtube movie, and there is something about me, when you are acting I look at your expression, I am not interested in you shouting, but just your expression. So, I saw her expression- this girl is a fantastic actress, she acted so well. So there was another YouTube film, I called her again. I made up my mind that for any movie I want to do now from this year, I will be featuring new faces. So I sent her the script, and ask if she could do it. And She said yes and that is it. I am so impressed.
Q: How was her performance on set, did she meet up to your expectations?
A: I was the artistic director of the set, obviously even as an artist if I am obsessed, sometimes my Director will tell me that see I don’t like this obsession thing because sometimes we are not seeing what they are seeing on camera. Lolade beat my imagination, everybody on set. This is because Lolade played a dual role. She had to play a stripper and a born-again Christian.
Q: We also have Kunle Remi in the movie, and lately Kunle Remi has been in a lot of movies back-to-back, he has done Anikulapo which was a very huge movie, so how would describe his emotional delivery on set?
A: I just, when I saw the script, said, yes it is Kunle that I want. In fact, obviously he has a role. Some people said that Kunle can do it. I said yes. Some people said we need someone that can push. I said it is Kunle that I want. So we had an argument, they were saying Remi. Remi is my very good friend. I said Remi as a bad boy but Remi is not bad, he is the softest of them all. I said I want someone that has this baby look that even when they are doing something bad, you can vouch for them that no this person it is not possible. And you know us in Nigeria, sometimes you judge people through their looks, when someone has a tattoo or dreadlocks, he is said to be a bad boy or a bad girl. If it is a beret, without makeup or anything this one is a good girl, but I tell people that appearance can be deceptive. You have to look decent for people to take you seriously but for some, it is a risk. So, I just wanted something, that can wow the audience. Oh, fine boy, baby look and someone that you can not even imagine can behave in certain ways. You know sometimes you will just see someone and you will be like ah ah, this person looks like a thief and the person is not a thief, but you just say it. So that was what I wanted and Kunle did not disappoint me, I was not disappointed, Kunle killed it. Kunle killed that role. Oh, God don’t let me talk, but Kunle did well. and Kunle is such a good boy on set, he is very respectful.
Q: What are we expecting from the actresses on set?
A: I had Lilian, but Lilian played mummy G.O. when I gave her the script she was like Mummy G.O., Mama I said Lilian that is what I want you to play, that Mummy G.O., she said okay. Cover your body o, you know you have a big bosom, that is what I want. And Lilian came on set, she delivered. I wanted to send her one clip, but I said no I am not going to send it to her, I want her to get to the premiere on Sunday and see herself because she is going to love herself well. She did so well.
Q: How many movies do you have you to your credit currently?
A: I lost count, but in Cinemas this should be my fifth movie.
Q: So, are we going to expect a sequel from this movie?
A: I don’t think so. I will just come out with something bigger and better.
Q: When you joined the industry, people gave you a chance and you just said you want to become a star maker, what motivates you to do so when many are intimidated when a new star is about to rise?
A: That’s because they saw something about me, I want everybody to win, I just want to make money, eat buy clothes, and have a house and God has done it. That is it. I am not in competition with anybody and definitely. If you like go and tell them not to feature somebody because it has happened to me before, someone asked them not to feature me in a film, in a movie that she didn’t want to act with me, you know. So if you like go and tell them not to feature this person you will still fail. The newcomers are coming, Bolade and others so because I remember then we used to play the role of children and all of them acted as our mother and I remember then because my boss gave me a chance and then she used to play a long role, she can’t, maybe now she will play grandmother now. Then I was very skinny I used to play schoolgirl, now I cannot even play schoolgirl again. Last year I went to pick Debola Lagos job and Shehu made me play Daniel Efe’s mother, Stepmother, do you know what that means? I am old. To me I might think, there is no how I shouldn’t be able to play a schoolgirl, but there’s nothing you can do when the time has passed. We will go, but the only remaining thing is what you have done to the people coming up. Now there is nothing anybody wants to do to me again. I am there already. God has blessed me, and the highest thing that can happen now, I don’t even know, because, you know the highest thing that can happen is okay someone will grow old. At least my greatest goal for me is heaven, to make heaven you understand, but you see all these people that are coming, those upcoming actors you don’t know where they are going to be. I can remember a lot of things people did to me when I was coming up too. So I think, I don’t get threatened by that, I am just happy. I want to build a lot of people, so at least when I am shooting a movie, I will be calling my children to come so that I will not be spending a lot of money, and when they are shooting too they will remember, let’s call Mummy. So, I don’t get threatened by anything in Jesus name.
Q: There is a lot of competition and challenges in the movie industry, how have you been able to overcome that?
A: I can’t really explain because sometimes you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only option you have. There were times I felt bad and I was depressed, I am a Christian, I take things in my stride. My family don’t like what I’m doing and they’d rather I’m in God’s vineyard. I do not want to fall or fail so that they will not say, “shebi we said that you should become a Pastor or this”, so I have to keep going.
Q: Motherhood is what every woman looks unto and cherishes. How has Ire coming into your life changed your way of life, and your attitude to life?
A: It has changed a lot o. Even before Ire came into my life, you know my husband has a daughter so I have a stepdaughter. So, you know sometimes I will go and meet my husband and ask, “shey she doesn’t like me; my husband will tell me she’s a child and that’s how they do”- you understand, because my husband does not talk, he is a very calm person, the kids took after him. Temitope has taught me to be calm, to be patient with people, so but you know, when Ire now came obviously, it was a totally different ball game. Like I wonder as a mum how I will fight. I can’t imagine myself fighting someone. Fine, I can have misunderstandings with my friends, we talk about it, but I can’t imagine being on the internet fighting somebody. I can’t imagine myself on the street fighting as a mother. I Can’t Imagine because, there are some things that when they happen, I will just remember that I have a son. When I remember Ire like that, I will just be like ah, there are some bad habits I had and I have to stop, not because of anything because when I was just me, if you like say this thing kills, to God be the glory I will say I can only die once. You know, but when I had my son, everything changed. And you know Ire and Temitope they are so close; they are my kids. It has really changed me and then I think it brought out the better part of me because I want my kids to grow up and see some things about me and say, oh mummy did you do this? And I’d say yes I did, but then you were not born. So I want my son to know that from 2019 till when I had him, my life changed. I want to do what I will be proud of and motherhood has really been amazing, I can’t wait to have more kids. I can’t wait.
Q: You are said to have the strongest fan base in the country, what word of love do you have for them?
A: Really? I love them and they love me too. I am happy, you know without your fans you are nothing. So I am happy and excited. I love my fans.
Q: What do you have to say to your fans christened ‘Toyin Titans’?
A: I love you guys, they know I love them, they are my support system, it is God, my family, and them though. I love them, I got you guys for life, and they got me too, so I love them and I usually tell them. Please say no to bully, don’t troll people. Let people say whatever they wanna say. I have grown past that stage that whatever anybody says about me that is negative bothers me. It does not affect me anymore, I am so used to it because I realized if I have like one thousand comments. I will have positive comments, I will have like maybe five negative comments and I won’t dwell on the negatives, people can say whatever they want to say, it is fine, just leave people. What I want you guys to just do for me is continue supporting my success, my life and my career, and my work. Thank you.
Q: In the Nigerian Movie industry, you have made a name for yourself, but who would you say is your role model in the industry?
A: Everybody knows that I have a role model, my role model is Omotola Jalade Ekeinde. She is my role model, I love her because she has been able to pull together her career, husband, and family, and she is still relevant, that is my role model.
Q: In the international scene, which actor would you love to be on a movie set with?
A: Maybe Angelina Jolie, I love her too.
Q: If you are going to go on a luxury holiday, what are the five things you will carry along with you?
A: My phone, food, ah I like food o. I don’t even care about clothes, I might not even wear clothes. I can even tie a wrapper. Food, phone, of course, and my bible. Maybe olive oil or, and what else, maybe my friends.
Q: Who is a complete woman for you?
A: I don’t know, but because to me there is nobody that is complete. Some people are able to hide their own bad characters, they are able to hide their bad characters behind cameras. So, to me there is nobody, there is no total woman, there is no total man. We are not perfect, so to me, I don’t think that there is anybody that is a complete woman to me.
Q: What is your greatest fear in life?
A: I don’t want to ever lose my home. I don’t want to have a broken home. I do not want to. I don’t want to have a broken home. I can’t imagine myself and my husband not living together. I cannot even imagine. I can’t! That is the only fear I have, you know. I know I can’t lose my husband, I know my husband cannot lose me. That is why we used to pray. So that is my only fear. But I know it is ordained by God, so there is nothing to be scared of.