Beautiful actress, Toyin Abraham, is a name to be reckoned with as far as movie making is concerned in Nigeria. The talented entertainer has featured in over a 100 movies, both English and Yoruba genres. In this interview, Toyin shares with Abiola Alaba Peters how she overcame her dark moments to become a blockbuster movie producer. Tidbits from her poor growing up years, sojourn to Lagos for greener pastures and how tenacity and hard work in her craft paid off
2018 is almost wrapping up, what have you been up to, and how is your movie ‘Seven and Half Date’ doing?
‘Seven and Half Date’ wasn’t my production. I was only asked to participate and it is doing very fine. For me, I just finished auditioning for another movie. After that, I will travel to Benin Republic to appear in another movie produced by a friend. I am presently making plans to commence my soap opera. As for movies, I really want to slow down a little bit. I want to build my home to an accepted level and also concentrate on my Soaps. I’m planning to raise lots of up-and-coming actors and actresses.
How is Toyin giving back to the society?
I have several empowerment initiatives, especially in vocational skills. I still have a lot of plans for my fans waiting in the pipeline.
What has really helped you in achieving some of your set goals, especially in your blooming career?
Initially I was doing my thing the usual way; I didn’t have a management team or any team for that matter. You know, sometimes you make mistakes, especially when you feel you are on top of your game. Being popular doesn’t mean you are successful. I made my mistakes, especially the mistake of believing that I could do all things by myself because I was popular. It doesn’t work like that. We need to delegate power and form strategic alliances with some experts. I can confidently tell you that it has been a different ball game since I had a team. Their experiences have been awesome.
How did you get into the movie industry?
My late brother’s friend had an uncle who is a marketer; High Waves. They said Bukky Wright was coming to town to shoot ‘Dugbedugbe Nbo’ and that she needed someone. I was called; so I went to meet her. When I got there, it happened that they needed help for a particular role. The person listed to play the role was not available. I was asked to take over the role and I just did my thing. At the end, everybody started clapping.
Were you paid for the role?
Yes. It wasn’t as if I was trained to be an actress from the onset, but immediately after that experience, I saw it as an opportunity to explore acting. So, I went for further training under Aunty Bukky.
At what point did you relocate to Lagos in the pursuit of your career?
At some point, I felt it would be ideal for me to relocate to Lagos because that was the only option. Lagos is where the money is, especially with the fact that I was coming from a poor background; I realised that I had to leave for Lagos. That was, and still is, the mainstream of acting. Being an upcoming act, you won’t have the opportunity to partake in movies if you are not available. Most of the time, the invitation is impromptu. If you are not available when called, another would take that chance. Sometimes you will only be called upon when a film production is going to come and pick up two or three scenes.
How were you able to secure a roof over your head when you first arrived Lagos?
It was not easy for me. I was with Aunty Bukky and later, with Aunty Opeyemi Ayeola. I stayed with my family friend at Fola Agoro, until I was able to pay for an apartment of my own.
How did you raise funds for your needs, especially the issue of accommodation?
I lived at Agoro for almost four years. The first apartment I was able to afford then was a room and parlour at Omole. Honestly, it was not easy getting the apartment, but I had to cut my cloth according to my size before I was able to save enough to do that. In fact, my elder siblings had to support me. That was when a very close friend, who is a journalist provided me support beyond my expectations. He was always bailing me out of financial mess. That is why we are so close. People don’t know this.
How were you able to overcome financial challenges?
After living in my apartment for about two years, I moved to another apartment in the same location. From this other apartment, things began to change for me. The roles started coming in. I always thank God for His divine intervention. It was not easy, but He made things easy for me at the end.
So when exactly did the big money start coming in and why the love for Ibadan?
That definitely was last year. I am not saying that I have not been making money, but I made more money beyond my imagination last year. A large part of that fortune is from Lagos, though Ibadan is always my home. I feel at home whenever I am in Ibadan. It is my country home that I love to visit a lot. This is why I love to do anything that will be beneficial for the people of Ibadan. God is the pillar of my career, but Ibadan people have been my largest fans. They have been extremely supportive.
Do you ever have the feeling that you would also have made it if you stayed back in Ibadan?
I was born and raised in Ibadan and I knew I was still going to return home. As I said earlier, I came from a poor background. But, we never even let that bother us because we believe God would move. We were content with what we had. Though, we were financially poor, we were not spiritually and mentally lacking. Then, I didn’t know we were poor because we still had something to eat. I remember we usually ate particular beans called feregede (African yam bean). Anybody that is familiar with this kind of food will have an idea of the stress one goes through before it is cooked. My parents will ask us to fast when there was nothing to eat at home. At that point, I had to move to Lagos, where there were better opportunities in the entertainment industry.
Was there any time you felt like giving up on your dreams?
As a Christian, I was conscious of what I was doing. My mum always advised us (her daughters) that our body is the temple of God and that we must not be involved in any act of sin.
You are also a drummer, which of the drums are you good at?
I am a good drummer. I’m especially good on Akuba and Konga. I still play them till now, but only in my mother’s church.
Finally, what do you wish your fans as the year draws to an end?
I wish them Merry Christmas in advance. A prosperous year ahead and wonderful celebration. I also want to urge them to play safe and stay cool. I love my super fans.