By: MUTIAT, Alli
….why I am passionate about the entertainment industry-Toni Tones
Toni Tones’ passion has always been to be creative and excel since childhood; little wonder after her graduation she faced her dream and kick started with photography, then music and acting. Having featured in few movies, Toni Tones has shown that her passion for the entertainment industry at large is second to none, in this chat with MUTIAT ALLI, she talked about growing up, she reflects on her experience in living her dreams and other issues.
You’re into photography; music and acting; which did you start first?
When I relocated to Nigeria, I started with photography and that was in 2009. Then, I had no idea of how to get into the entertainment industry. As a photographer, I just went to different magazines and showed them my portfolios and asked if I could snap for them. They liked my work and that was how I took off. If you remember D’banj reality show, Koko Mansion, that opportunity gave me a lot of exposure and really kick-started my career. At a certain point, I became more familiar with the industry and subsequently, I delved into music and acting.
How did you start your photography career and what was your motivation?
I developed passion for photography in my last year in the university though I had always liked to snap pictures. In my last year as an undergraduate, I began to develop interest in it professionally. Subsequently, I had a mentor in London, Subby and Sinem, who coached me for three months in photography and I started making money pretty quickly. If clients like your work, they’re willing to pay upfront unlike in acting.
Music wise, are we still getting more of you, because it seems you have fallen in love with acting?
Yes, I took time away from music to really focus on my acting career. I wanted people to know that I am a true actor and not just a musician that is now acting. I am a trained actor, I’ve gone to film school in Los Angeles for acting and I wanted to let people to know that asides music I am a serious actor. And I have done that. I am extremely happy with where my acting career is at the moment. I have been privileged to work on a number of projects that I am proud of, Lara and the Beat being one of them. There’s also King of Boys coming soon, there’s a whole lot of them coming out that I believe that I have gone on to cement my place in the acting industry and now I am a force to reckon with. I also have new music coming out this year. I am on two of the songs on the LATB (Lara and the Beat) soundtrack, and then I have my own music coming out in a couple of months.
Music and acting, which is it for you?
People always ask me that question, I can’t choose. If I could, I would have. I love both equally, so I’m doing both. Music is difficult though because it needs a lot of funding. Music is very expensive. Acting on the other hand is not, you act, you are paid, and you go. With music, you have to look for funding and all that. It’s very expensive business until you get to that peak where you blow. That’s the downside of music.
Being a music artiste and experiencing music in a film, what was it like in a film like Lara and the Beat (LATB)?
LATB is a bit of a musical without coming with the drag that musicals tend to come with. They don’t really throw the music in your face, but we did an all-new soundtrack. So there is a whole album that was made. I’m on it, Seyi Shay, Vector, and others… and they are all original songs. I thought that was really great because the songs are lovely and produced by TY Mix. So this is the first time we get a film that we genuinely enjoy the music as much as we enjoy the drama that the film brings. I’ve never experienced anything like that in a Nigerian film. LATB pretty much has a film, fashion and music concept going on. Asides the music though, the movie is very fashion forward. It reminds me of Sex and the City. What they did with Sex and the City was that the fashion was a huge statement. This film will do that in a way no other Nigerian movie has done in the past.
You played the role of Trish in the movie Lara and the Beat; is there any part of that character that resonates with you?
Nothing, no part of her. I’m nothing like her, to be honest. I love her, she’s bold, doesn’t take any nonsense, she goes for what she wants, but I don’t think there were any similarities between her and me.
What attracted you to the script?
First off, the script was funny. When I read it, I couldn’t stop laughing, and you know that funny movies are always a winner. I thought it was brilliantly written. Sometimes, you are reading a script and you can’t wait for it to finish, but this was like reading a book. From the moment I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. It was a page-turner, and almost every page had me laughing. The moment I read the script, it was a no-brainer for me; I wanted to be a part of it.
Speaking about your acting career, what are some of the most challenging moments on set for you?
I would say that the long hours. A lot of people don’t realize that sometimes you shoot for 24hours straight. So you can be on set by 7am and you are literally not leaving till like 6am the next morning. Of course, it’s not all the time, but it can be really long hours. Sometimes, you can get to set, do five hours and leave, depending on what is expected of you for the day. Sometimes you can be there for 12, 16 or 18 hours. But for me, as long as I love what I am doing it’s not really a choice. It’s all part of the job. So I don’t really mind it so much.
So what role would you never play?
I don’t do sexual roles. I don’t do any role that has me showing a lot of skin or has me having sex in a film; I would never take roles like that. The rule is: my mother has to be able to watch everything that I act in. If my mum can’t watch it, I can’t do it.
What was your childhood like?
I grew up in Lagos and in a Christian family. We’re catholic. I have three sisters and one brother but I’m the last born and the apple of my parents’ eyes. I attended Our Lady of Apostles Primary School and subsequently, Queens College, Lagos after which I attended University of Lancaster. I was much protected as a child and if I wasn’t in school, I was at home with my mom. It was at the end of my secondary education that I started socializing, visiting my cousins, grandmother and friends. I was mommy’s pet.