Juliana Olayode, popularly known as Toyo baby has shed more light on her journey in the movie industry, how well her book has done and dealing with criticisms.
In the interview which she had with Genevieve Magazine, she gets real, and friendly as she takes us through her journey.
We have some excerpts below:
On her thoughts on womanhood
“The gift of womanhood is totally amazing, it’s indeed a gift to the world. I cannot imagine a world without women and I’m sure you cannot either. It’s amazing how God blessed the world with women, first of all, he created a man and he felt that it is not good for this man to be alone and then a woman came in; and then through a woman, we have a large number of people in the world today. So, the gift of womanhood is totally amazing. A world without a woman is an empty world.”
On the area, she thinks women should press for progress
“I cannot say that women should press for progress in a particular area most because every woman has her strength so I cannot say we should face this direction. But I can say that if a woman finds her strength and says “oh, I want to go into politics, chase after it; if you want to go into business, chase after it whatever it is a woman thinks she’s capable of doing; and you know if a woman has the ability to do a lot of things, she’ll do it successfully. So if you know your strength, go for it and I think women should support women in politics as well because I believe that women will do a great job.”
On handling being a public figure as a woman
!You know, all of a sudden a lot of people feel like they have a right to talk about you; they have a right to say what they want to say in the name of voicing their own opinion, perhaps they feel like you’re a superhuman the moment you become a celebrity; I think most people just forget that you’re just like them, they forget it’s your work that puts you out there but for actors, actresses and entertainers generally, their work is such that they have to be out there.
People just expect that you’re superhuman, you don’t make mistakes,” you’re my role model why did you do this”; like I did not beg you to choose me as a role model. I have my flaws, there are times when I’m down, there are times when I’m happy I mean I’m as human as you are. People say all sorts on social media and I think it’s really bad. If they put themselves in certain people’s shoes, I think they’ll talk less and be sensitive in what they write about.”
On her journey through acting
“I started acting immediately after high school, I didn’t even know I was ever going to be an actress I thought I would sing because that was what I loved to do even though I was in the drama club when I was in secondary school but it wasn’t something that I thought I’d major in. So after school, I got an audition notice from my friend. Actually I was on my way to choir rehearsals that evening, she was like “there’s an audition somewhere today, would you come”?
So I didn’t want to go but of course she persuaded me and I found myself in the place; there were a lot of people there; people dressed as though they came for a beauty pageant (laughs). I was just there with my scarf and my slippers; I thought to myself that it was an audition anyway.
When it was my turn to audition, I got the script and all of a sudden my eyes failed me, I couldn’t see again because I was so nervous. Although, the judges were nice enough to give me time to go through the script, so I went through the script and did it a second time, it wasn’t so good and they gave me an opportunity to do it again which I did and they said “ok we’ll get back to you. About a month after, I got a call that I had got the role and I was like “are you serious “! So that was how I started acting professionally. It was me, myself and my diary; that was the title of the series.”
On being on set with Funke Akindele
“Amazing! Aunty Funke is an amazing woman, she’s hardworking, she’s beautiful, she’s strong, she’s versatile, I mean she can do almost everything on set, she can be the hairstylist, she can be the makeup artist, she can be the costumer, you know anything just to make the production move fast. So, it was really amazing working with Aunty Funke; I didn’t believe I would be on set working with her as a friend.
So, for the first season, especially the first episode, I was really nervous; I kept missing my lines you know working alongside this person I’ve always admired; so it wasn’t so easy for me to get into character in the first and second scene in the first season, but then she helped me and the director talked to me like “just forget she’s a celebrity and just imagine that she’s your friend because she’s doing her job and you need to do yours; so that was it. It was a really amazing experience.”
On her age
On facing criticisms
“Yes there was. When I wrote my book, some people for reasons best known to them had their own review about the book (laughs), you know there was this hit on social media that “ah! she lied that she’s a virgin blah blah”, it was tough on social media then; but I knew that nothing was forever especially gists like that, it will definitely come to pass just that during the period when it’s still hot on social media, you just have to learn to take it in.
It was so difficult, I had to answer so many questions as to why I lied about being a virgin because I’m an advocate for sexual purity and I’ve always be an advocate for sexual purity even before I started acting on Jenifa’s diary. Some people said that I was trying to live up to the life of the character I played in Jenifa’s diary because Toyosi in Jenifa’s diary is a virgin; it wasn’t even about the fact that I believe in sexual purity, it’s a cause I’ve been advocating for a very long time.
The big break came and I started having several followers on Instagram. So the first time I posted something about virginity day; because it’s a day when we celebrate virgins and a day when we tell people that you can remain a virgin; that virginity is not an old school thing and it’s not a taboo to stay sexually pure. It’s just a day when different people come on board to share their real life experiences, perhaps how they were abused and chose to stay pure; how they’ve been keeping themselves regardless of what the society says about virginity.”