Yinka Quadri used to beat me with cane –Toyosi
Toyosi Adesanya Ilesanmi is one of the faces changing the power equation in the Yoruba genre of the movie industry. For more than a decade ...
now that the Nollywood star came into limelight, she has not for once looked back and she is currently a force to be reckoned with. In this chat with Yemisi Adeniran, she takes a look at pressures of life as a wife and an actress, the failure of Said and Fathia Balogun's marriage and her goals for the future.
Which of the Yoruba actors' caucuses do you belong to?
I belong to the Odunfa caucus and my mentors are Yinka Quadri, Taiwo Hassan and others in the group.
How has the journey been?
It's been great and very challenging. At first, we never knew the movie industry will become as big as what we have today. Then, there used to be serious disciplined. Young actresses like me got corporal punishments for any trait of carelessness and unseriousness at work. For instance, I have been caned by Yinka Quadri and Ogogo before for one laxity or the other and this had never deterred me from being focused at what I am supposed to do.
Do they still beat you now?
Not any more, Toyosi is a big girl now and that was exactly what my father told them on the day I was getting married. And you know what, Papa never raised any eyebrow during those times. As far as he is concerned, there is no job that does not have its own pains and as long as one desires the gains, he must be ready to take and endure the pains. We were like one family, we had our times of quarrelling and other times of catching fun.
Do you do any other thing aside acting?
Yes, aside acting, I buy and sell things.
Is acting not picking the bill?
It does, but you know, it is good to also be enterprising. I am still very young and naturally hyperactive, I love to abide with the adage that says, “make hay while the sun shines”. It is now that I can run around for businesses and to make money.
How was your childhood, was acting part of your dream then?
It was interesting. I grew up in Ogun State, Abeokuta to be precise and was always shuttling between Abeokuta and Lagos. While I was growing up, I developed this flair for acting and was lucky to have been introduced very early into the world. This never tampered with my education because I know literacy is fundamental to real success in life. I hate to feel inferior in the midst of my contemporaries and that is why I made it very mandatory for myself to be educated. All the same, I believe one should also not look down on his or her talents because life is not about degree or what you study in school, it is about what you are specifically given to do by God from creation and an inward look will definitely give one the opportunity to discover this. If you look around, you will discover that a lot of people who are great achievers today became such because of those things they could personally invent. We are loving in a creative world. Creativity is presently the bane of success and this is what I implore everyone to take note off. Another thing I do not joke with is personal relationships. Never look down on people you meet, they can take you to places you never can think of. Again, life is never dependable on the course or institution you attend alone, it rests more on the interaction you make with people.
What has acting changed about you?
It is true that fame do change people, but I am still myself. I will never allow stardom to turn me to a stranger in the presence of people and to myself.
You have really gone so big, is it about your marriage?
Well, you may not be far from it because honestly marriage is a good thing just like the Bible says. I thank God for the kind of understanding man and in-laws I have, they have been very supportive and loving. I have rest of mind and I guess that is what is making me add more weight.
You are yet to begin child rearing. Is it because of your job or what is delaying you? I am sure your fans want to see how you will look when you are pregnant.
They shouldn't worry, babies will soon come. God is the only one who provides children and He will do that when He believes is right. So, let's not be too anxious and be rest assured that it has nothing to do with my job.
A lot of actresses, they say, sleep their ways up in the movie industry. Did you sleep with producers before you get roles and how far is this true?
There you go again. I wonder why you press people always ask this question. Is there no such things in other industries. Okay, do ladies not sleep with guys in your office?
We are not talking about my office here or do you want to be a press man too?
No, I am already an actress, I don't have to do a journalist work. But what I am saying is you guys are always particular about this question.
Are you in anyway trying to confirm this belief?
Not at all. I have never slept with anybody. The big boys in Nollywood are my brothers and we relate as such. Although we may have some who made attempts before, but since I was not desperate for any role, it never constituted any problem because it is a matter of choice. I mean, no one will force any lady who says no to an advancement. As far as I am concerned, men will always try to lure a woman they are interested in out any day, even a pregnant woman doesn't get spared at times. But it is basically left for that woman in question to either say no or give her consent. It always takes two to tangle and I am sure, you have never had any chance of reporting an actor raping an actress among us. Those that you might have had in mind have basically done it out of their own choice and not because the actress was forced. And believe me, it happen everywhere, it is not in the movie industry alone.
Are you saying there are no actresses who got their roles without any merit?
I don't know what you are saying. If anyone should by any chance get a role she does not merit, I am sure you know, it is going to be for the very last time as the producer will get disappointed by the turnout of the event. He won't make much sales and what will be the gain of any producer who is not financially rewarded after all the stress over the job? So, it doesn't work here, everyone who acts a role continuously or steadily does so on merit, otherwise there won't be a repeat after the first one. How can such a person remain relevant in the industry?
Is it true that the movie industry will not release any new film until February and is this going to be the rule?
You know that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy any day. I believe that was what informed that action. But if you follow our operation, you will discover that about 37 new movies were released before Christmas and New Year to keep our fans occupied until active work begins. This doesn't stop anyone from writing new scripts and planning ahead.
Can you mention some of these new films?
Adeola Navigator, Omi Ojo Leyi, Alagbato, Jenifa 2, Monife, Omo jeje, Baba Lukudi, Ogun Esu, Etutu Eleye, Oun to pa mo, Awawa, Egun Idile Mi, Itan, Mr Teacher, Onibara, Iwon, Ebo Arinnaka, Apoti Orogun, Ha owo olowo, Akoruba, Iton Esan, Ibinu Alale and others.
You just said marriage has been good to you, what effort do you intend to put in place for yours not to be like many of your colleagues?
I got married when I was ready for it. I understood the dictates of marriage and I meant all I declared when taking the oath during my marriage ceremony. It is actually for better for worst and I am ready to give it all the patience and obedience that it takes. I intend and pray to hold or keep my marriage till I die.
Are you saying those artistes whose marriages crashed untimely were impatient and disobedient?
I have not said that. All I am trying to point out is that any marriage that is billed to last long will need a high level of patience, endurance and obedience. In addition, a woman going into marriage must be assured within herself that she is actually prepared for all that is within the confines of marriage. She must be ready to abide by her husband's rules and must be able to go by his pace.
How do you mean?
A lot of women lose their focus or let me say get confused within the first few months of their marriages. Many just want to be married because their mates were already getting married, they were actually not prepared for the task involved in marital life. That is why they often get fed up almost immediately they get married. Another reason for this many break-ups is that a lot don't go at their husband's pace. They tend to copy others that the Yoruba will say, Won n wo aago alago sise, meaning they copy others' lifestyle in determining their mode of operation. Because their friends are riding a particular Jeep or car, they also want to ride and so, they begin to frustrate their husbands for not being able to provide their request. It is wrong for wives to compare their husbands with other people's husbands, they will only end up crashing their homes.
How would you respond to the marital crisis between Said and Fathia Balogun?
Fathia is like a big sister to me while her husband is like a big brother. I will say they both got careless with their problem and have actually made their marriage an ANTP affair. They did not handle the matter with enough maturity, neither did they exercise patience over the case at all, that is why everyone now has free access to deliberate on their issue. One thing is clear though, they both care for each other genuinely and I won't be surprised if they come together again.
Are you saying reconciliation is possible between them?
Why not? They have children that bind them together. They will come back again. Couples are bond to disagree and they will agree again. It's no big deal.
How fulfilled are you on this job?
I guess I really am. I started doing movies many years ago, when I would be told by producers that they would pay me N10,000 for a role, only for me to get nothing in the end. But this has not deterred me. I love what I am doing and that is what has been giving me the push to go on. I came into the movie industry for the love of the arts and things are really getting better now. We are sometimes paid upfront or immediately after the act now and regardless of how big or small the money is, I am fulfilled. It has brought me into limelight, who knows? Toyosi might not be as celebrated as she is now but for the cause of acting.
Do you watch your acts and are you satisfied with your performance?
Sometimes, your performance is predicted on the input from your director or producer but then one needs to rate herself to better another time. I am my best critic, I watch my own movies and see where I have gone wrong to make necessary adjustments.
What advice do you have for the young and upcoming artistes?
They should believe in themselves and be focused. They should not mind the bad ways they get treated by their producers and should give respect to those it is due. Hardwork is the only thing that can take them to the top speedily, so, they should be hardworking and not get carried away by distractions from the sides.