Born Gbemi Anthonia Adefuye, Toni Tones is a triple-threat force to be reckoned with: She is an actress, singer, and award-winning photographer whose influence in the Nigerian entertainment industry has become undeniable.
Her role in the box office hit ‘King Of boys’ directed by Kemi Adetiba brought Toni Tones critical acclaim. Her electrifying performances in top productions have positioned her as one of the most sought after A-list actors in Nollywood today.
On the road to success, Toni Tones has faced and overcome challenges. In an in-depth interview with The Nation’s Flair Magazine, she speaks about this, and more.
See excerpts from the interview below:
What was it like at the beginning?
I started my career as a photographer and because of that, it was quite a challenge getting people to take me seriously as an artist and as an actor, at first. At some point, I began to wish I had never started with photography at all, because then I wouldn’t have to fight the tough battle of gaining acceptance, I would just have been able to go straight to building a fan base. Some OAPs simply wouldn’t play my music because they didn’t take me seriously. It took a lot of hard work, persistence and determination before I was finally accepted in the industry. There were times that I wanted to give up but I am exceedingly happy I didn’t.
What are some of the challenges you have encountered?
It was tough being accepted as an actor because people knew me as a photographer and after then, a musician. Hearing that I was an actor as well, I think it was hard for them to take me seriously initially. A lot of people probably assumed I was just playing around as opposed to chasing my dreams. It seemed like having more than one career was looked upon as a bit of a crime; people tend to put you in a box. They know you for one thing and that is what they choose to be comfortable with and when you try to break out of that box, there’s a lot of opposition. But I am not here to make anybody comfortable, I am here to achieve every single goal that my heart desires and achieve I will.
How do you cope with them?
I was determined not to be put in a box. I was determined to excel at every single passion I had chosen to pursue. Sometimes, I would ask God why He didn’t just give me one passion so it would have been easier, but I remember praying one day and hearing a voice within me say, “if God has given you many skills, it is meant as a blessing, not a curse.” That put things in perspective for me. I made a vow never to relent, to give everything I had, to show God I appreciated every skill he had gifted me and I would honour Him by using them. Successful or not, at least I would know I tried. Being able to actually do the things I love is already success to me, because for so long I was afraid to even try. I am glad I never gave up, otherwise I would not be living such a fulfilled life now.