Popular Yoruba actress, Toyin Aimakhu, delves into her issues about her life, romance, scandals, Nollywood and more.
How I cope with advances from men
I get advances from men a lot. I cannot count how many times they hit on me. Some of them walk up to me with lame pick up lines. There was a day I used a picture of me and Bimbo Akintola on my BlackBerry. She is my friend and a role model. We were at a movie location and I took a picture with her. I used it as my BlackBerry display picture and someone sent a message asking if that was Bimbo Akintola. I replied the person saying she isn’t the one, that it was Iya Rainbow. There was another time someone came up to me and said he likes me. I said thank you and he said I should guess what. I asked and he said he really does not watch Yoruba movies. I told the person that I don’t act Yoruba movies, that I dance for Fela. He was shocked and said but I act Yoruba movies. I replied the man saying that I thought he does not watch Yoruba movies. I am not a harsh or aggressive person; everybody knows that all I do is act in Yoruba movies. I am a very nice and friendly person and I know that without my fans I am nothing. I have been able to cope with men because right from my childhood, most of my friends have been guys. I feel safe around them. I am a plain person; the thing with guys is that when you have an issue with them, they clear it immediately unlike women who keep talking about it all the time. When you are doing a great job, the opposite sex would definitely always come after you. I am used to it. Thank God, my man is an actor and a model, so he understands. Even when men don’t look at me, I tell him that nobody is noticing me and he teases me that it is because I am not fine again. Then we laugh it off.
The part of my body I consider as my best asset
I love every part of my body but if I am to choose I would say probably my breasts. My smile and my lips are also good features of my body.
How I became an actress
I never wanted to become an actress. I wanted to be a physiotherapist. I love attending to people, taking care of them. I did my HND in Marketing; I have a Degree in Philosophy from Olabisi Onabanjo University. My late brother, Mutab Aimakhu, had a friend, and the friend had an uncle who happened to be Aina Kushoro. Bukky Wright wanted to shoot a student movie and they needed someone to help them in University of Ibadan. Kushoro called me and told me that he needed me to help an actress. I asked who the actress was and he said that it was Bukky Wright. I was excited because everybody was going to see me with her. When she came around I was staring at her, I was telling everybody that I was with my aunty. She wanted to park her car and I offered to help her though I looked small and skinny; she did not believe I could drive. They had an audition and I was just watching. I liked her so I went to get her food and we sat together. I asked her why the people were not getting it right and she said that acting is not easy. I told her that there was nothing to it. She asked if I could act and I told her yes. We were just playing. She told me to go on stage. The person that directed it was Tope Idowu. I went on stage, they said I should act some scenarios for them which I did and they said I did very well. Everybody present there gave me a resounding ovation but I didn’t see it as anything. I was not interested in acting professionally. They started shooting and had some problems so they had to go to Ife. Bukky Wright forgot something in Ibadan and asked me to help her bring it to Ife. When I got there, she was upset and I asked her why she was down. She said that an actress they were expecting had not shown up. She asked if I could play the part but I was reluctant. I later played the part and was good at it. Back then, it was part of my fashion style to put a dot on the right side of my upper lip. The director of Jenifa, Muyideen Sasiliu, was the continuity guy on set. He approached me and said he needed me for something. He said he wanted to shoot a movie and he needed someone that would play Rachael Oniga’s part as a young person. He asked if the dot on my upper lip was natural and I said it was. When finished Bukky Wright’s film, she gave me money and I was surprised. Because of my background I was really shocked because I did not know someone could make money through talent. Then I came to Lagos. My journey to Lagos was like a joke; when I told my mother, she was very surprised and worried for me because I hadn’t been to Lagos before. I was born and bred in Ibadan. When I got to Lagos, everybody was just complimenting me, saying I am beautiful. They kept asking if I could drive because back then not many people could drive. When I acted people commended me and when I was done, I got paid. I went to Bukky Wright and she liked me. I visited her from time to time. Then she became my boss. That was how I started acting.
My parents’ reaction to my acting career
There is something about my family. Then when I just got in the industry I had problems with some people. They felt I was rude. It is not that I am rude. The way I was brought up, in my house they allow us to express ourselves freely. Even with my father, you have the right to express yourself. That was my upbringing. You can talk; you do not have to be scared of anybody. My parents would listen to you talk; they would not make you afraid of them by threatening you with punishment. They wanted us to be bold and this upbringing really worked for me. We do not lie in my house because we were trained in a Christian way. My parents would never choose what you are to do. They would let you do what you want so that even when you run into problems you would be able to stand on your own. My parents are old; initially my mother was scared but she went to some pastors and they prayed for me. My mother said the only thing she wants from me is that I should not forget where I come from and I should not do what I am not supposed to do. I promised her that I wouldn’t and if I do, I will die. She said that I will not die but live to testify to the goodness of God in my life. I will never serve God and money. My dad is a simple man; he lets you do what you want to do. Initially they did not support it but with time they changed their minds. Ever since I got their full support I have seen changes in my life.
The stigma against actresses
People see actresses as being wayward but it happens with young girls everywhere. But because we are known faces people tend to check our every move. I feel we are meant to be role models. I will not blame anybody; we are all from different backgrounds and have different mentality. Actresses don’t fight over men. Once they know you are an actress, they are ready to tarnish your image. Actress don’t fight over men. I do not have anything against people that date married men but I have never dated a married man and I would never do such. Because I am crazy in films people tend to have a wrong perception of me. I do not have tattoos, I do not use make-up except I am on set or I am going for an event. I have never dated a married man. My first boyfriend was Lekan, he is a young guy. I had another relationship with Niyi Solanke; then my ex-boyfriend, Kunle Soyombo who went to the press and told people I cheated on him. There is something about me; I pray a lot, I always want my fans to be proud of me. I love them and do not want to disappoint them. Kunle got married recently and I am with Niyi. To God be the glory, I am engaged. My husband proposed to me on a ferry. I love him and appreciate him. People see some actresses as wayward because of the way they place themselves. I am sure that a lot of people would not describe the likes of my boss, Bukky Wright, or Funke Akindele, Iyabo Ojo as wayward. The few bad eggs are the ones spoiling the names of the good ones. We have a lot of wonderful people in the industry. When you sit down and look at the people that are the bad eggs, they are not in the industry to act.
Strained relationship between English and Yoruba speaking artistes
I do not know about anybody degrading anyone because no one can do that to me. If you mock me I retaliate. You cannot degrade me because I am a graduate. A lot of people complain about it. I have a lot of friends among them and we talk regularly. I have been invited to act several English speaking movies. I was invited to act in Blackberry Babes, but I was not around. When I was called I was not around because I was shooting Femi Adebayo’s movie and I explained to them. It is a personal thing. Sometimes when I see some people act as such, I would complain but I would later keep quiet because I do not want to be insulted. It is the way you package yourself, the way you talk to people but there is no way anybody can downgrade me because I do not downgrade people. I do not disrespect people so nobody can disrespect me. If you do not want to talk with me, I would stay at home.
The money scandal I was involved in last year
My car was stolen from a friend of mine in September 2012. She wanted to drop someone with my car and it was stolen in the process. I am a public figure and from time to time, people give us gifts. I was shooting a movie and a friend walked up to me that a guy wanted to take us out because it was his birthday. I declined because I have a man and I cannot go out. The next day, Ibrahim, the man came and said he likes my movie and I thanked him. He said his father is an Islamic cleric and I asked him to tell his dad to keep praying for us. He said that he heard my car was stolen and offered to help. I accepted his offer to help, people give us money as well. I would never receive a gift for sex. The Bible says my body is the temple of the lord. I would never, ever do such. It was a big issue that later involved my husband. If I had done such, I would have been in big trouble. How would I have told him? My husband would faint, he would have been so disappointed. I am a lady and not married yet, it is normal for men to make passes at me but he knows I am from a Christian home. He is a good Christian and I am from a Christian home. If he hears such, he is going to faint. Ibrahim gave me N750,000 cash. He actually wanted to buy me a car; I wish he actually bought me a car so when the issue came up I would have just given him his car back. The guy’s father is a wonderful man. He spoke to me like a daughter and told me that the money was meant for someone else before his son took it. it was a gift, I did not steal it, I did not beg for it; but because he is a father and the way he spoke to me I listened. Ibrahim has an uncle, Agbana, who was also nice; Ibrahim too was nice, when he gave me the money, it was useful and I used it for something. I returned the money, but I still have about N200,000 to return.
About my previous relationship
The reason why I kept quiet all this while is because I am a lover girl. I fall in love; I love love. It is a sweet and wonderful experience. It is a beautiful thing. I have been waiting for this opportunity and I want my fans to sit down and think. I have never dated a married man, I am not a child. They can count the people I have dated and it is about four or five guys, including Niyi. Thank God I am engaged now. I fall in love and I do not know how to hide the person I am in love with. Once you ask me out and I say yes, I want to get married to you. It means I am in love with you; however most of these guys do not have the same intention. I have learnt that God’s time is the best. I had been walking around like a fool; meanwhile God had packaged Mr. Niyi Johnson for me. If I had married someone else apart from Niyi Johnson I would not be a happy woman. Now I met my better half and I love him. I do not even know the girl my former boyfriend is married to. He took my car; the Honda is actually my car. He was a guy I was in love with. I know Kunle is a funny person but there is something about me, even when they tell me you are not a good person, I want to deal with you. A lot of people have the wrong impression about me. I am a professional; because I act on screen, I act well and want to make it real. When you meet me, you realize it is just on screen. This has made me to always give people the benefit of doubt. So when people tell me about a person, I try to find out who the person really is. I bought the car for about N3 million. He was my man and he gave me N1 million. I just had to let it go because I was shocked and he was someone I loved. I found out and I just kept quiet about it. There was a time Kunle was in South Africa. The guy he went to meet was shopping while Kunle was at home. The guy tried calling him but couldn’t reach him so he called me instead. When he called me, he asked if it was boy or girl because he wanted to buy baby things to send to me. I was surprised because I was not pregnant. I was speechless; I called Kunle and told him what his friend said, that he wanted to buy baby things. He said that I should not mind his friend, that he wanted to buy it for one of his aunties who had a baby boy. I am smart but I kept quiet and took my mind off it. We did not have a fight, he just came to me to say that he wanted to attend a meeting and he took my car, because it was the latest Honda. I said okay and that was all, he stopped picking my calls. I sent him a text message, telling him to keep the car. I serve a living God; the next thing I saw was that he granted interviews saying that I was cheating on him. I went on a day’s fasting, and for 24 hours I was crying to God. I said that anything bad must not happen to anybody but let the people, my fans know the truth. And the truth came out. He had a wedding less than three months after we broke up. It was not even up to three months and the girl was about six months pregnant. We had spent Christmas and New Year together; he went to South Africa in November. I was the one that did the South African visa for him. He came back; my friend went to pick him up at the airport. We were together in the house, we had a New Year’s party, a lot of people were at the party. That means the girl had been pregnant all along and he had been playing me. He got back from South Africa and did not buy me a single top. My friends were surprised and asked why he did not buy anything for me, but I told them that he did not buy anything for me because he said he was broke. Meanwhile, people said they saw someone at the airport who came to pick things for him. God has a way of doing things. I wish him well; he was a wonderful guy too. I wish him well in life.
Me and my man
When you ask me about Niyi I feel like flying. I love him, he is my joy, and my friends make jest of me a lot with him. If I want to eat I call him; if he wants to do anything he calls me. We talk all the time. Niyi is my junior colleague but three years older than I am. I saw him in a movie and I was impressed by his acting. As seniors in the industry, when we see upcoming acts we make our observations. There is a tradition in the Yoruba movie industry, even if you are a 50-year-old person and I am 20-years-old but I got to the industry before you, you give me my respect. That is Yoruba, culture. I am 29-years-old. By looking at him I knew he was older than me. He wanted to talk to me but I was not interested because he is my junior colleague. Fortunately, Funke Akindele called me for a job, Oro omo. On getting to the set, he played my boyfriend. I would not lie, I liked him. When I saw him on set he came to me and said he is playing my boyfriend, I did not sound excited about it. I kept my cool. I asked him to walk me to my car, he was talking to me and I know he liked me, he took pictures with me. On set we were supposed to kiss, he had opened his mouth but I did not indulge him. When they stole my car, it gave everybody a reason to talk with me. He started talking to me and I was impressed by his intelligence. I told him I had seen him in Tinsel and he does a lot of soaps. His command of English is beautiful and that attracted me more to him. I saw a book with him and I loved it because I also love reading books. When he told me he likes me and wanted to date me I asked if he was on cheap drugs. He just sent me a text, ‘I did my findings and I am three years older than you, I know you don’t date for money and you don’t do married men. I love you’. I was like who is this and I disregarded the text. We later became friends and on my birthday, we were the only ones in the sitting room, people were outside. He told me he wanted to use the toilet so I had to take him, as we were going; he just dragged me to himself and kissed me. I could not resist him. He confessed to me that he liked his movies. On December 31, 2012, we were coming from Moji Olaiya’s movie location. He told me to allow them take the car away, giving several excuses. He told us to take a ferry, and on the ferry he proposed. That was the sweetest thing that could ever happen to a woman. He asked and I said yes. I told him that he should have told me so I would have hired people to shout yes on my behalf. We came back and there was a cab waiting for us.
My current project
I just shot Alacada part 2, we are taking it to the cinema. On January 22, I am going to start another movie; it has to do with autism. I am playing the part of a girl with autism. Her father has autism, it is a heredity problem; I inherited it from my father but mine is a worse case. My father used to be very rich and my mother married him for his money. Everything went bad and she left us. It was just my father and I. I had a best friend who happened to be an imbecile. However, my character has a talent, she can drum very well. She thinks like a child, she has the brain of a six-year-old although she is about 30 years. She has a gift, she can drum real good, later she becomes famous.