AGELESS actress, Toyin Afolayan, better known as Lola Idije is a force to reckon with in the Yoruba movie genre. The Agbamu, Kwara State born actress will be 52 in September, 2011. Despite this, she still looks radiant. ENCOMIUM Weekly had an exclusive interview with her at Odunfa Street, Ebute Metta, Lagos on Thursday, May 20, 2011, on the issues affecting her life and career including how she has been coping as a single mother.
Can we know the latest about you?
All is well with me career wise and every other thing. I thank God for what He has done in my life and career.
At this stage of your career, is it appropriate to say you’re a fulfilled actress?
You’re the one who said that. But as a human being, no matter what you might have achieved, you will still want to go further but as far as I am concerned, I am contented.
A lot of your colleagues like exotic cars, don’t you have…
(Cuts in quickly) I don’t go beyond my limits, everybody knows what he or she wants. I thank God I am not jumping okada. Anybody may acquire any type of car, I don’t look at that, I am focused. My major concern is how my children are going to become successful in their endeavour.
How have you been coping as a single mother all this while?
It has not been easy but God has always been there for me. As far as God is alive, I won’t find it difficult coping. And more so, they are all matured apart from my last born, Okikiola. With God, all things are possible.
How old is your first child?
She is about 30 years now.
How many children do you have?
I was born also to bear children, but not to count the number of children I have. It is against Yoruba culture. All I know is that God has blessed me with lovely children and they are all female.
Are you happy about that…
You mean about all of them being girls? There is nothing wrong about that. It’s God that gives children and anyone He gives you, you just have to thank Him because you can’t create anything let alone a child. I am always a happy mother, I am contented with what God has done in my life.
The impression people have of you is that you must be wicked and harsh in real life judging by the roles you interpret, what is your take on this?
People are only judging me by what they see on the screen. Although, I am not in a better position to assess myself correctly, nobody has ever said that I, Toyin Afolayan is harsh or wicked to him or her. People can only judge me when they find out how I relate with those I live with, those I relate with. If I start telling you I am good, I am humble, I am this and that, it is not appropriate. Whatever those that are close to me say about me is more appropriate than any other information. But the mistake people constantly make is that they see me as Lola Idije not as Toyin Afolayan which is very wrong. If you judge me by the role I interpret, you will definitely have a wrong impression of who I am.
People also perceive you as a smoker and a…
(Cuts in) God forbid! I don’t smoke, I don’t drink alcohol, I have never tasted them in my life. My best drink has always been soft drink. We are like prophets, we are role models people look on to us. At times, when I sit back and watch the way I act, I see myself on the screen screaming, shouting. I would say, ‘God, you are wonderful. Is this Toyin Afolayan?’ But we just have to interpret the character in the script, that’s our job and we keep praying that God should continue to guide us.
You have been in this industry for decades now, how many people have you trained so far?
I can’t say anything on that. Anybody that comes to me, I always make sure I try my best and leave the rest. I don’t know how to blow my trumpet, let those who might have passed through my hands praise me.
What is the actual relationship between you and late Adeyemi Afolayan a.k.a Ade Love?
He was my cousin, he was also my boss. He trained me. We are from Agbamu, Kwara State. So, Afolayan is our family name.
What else do you do aside acting?
I don’t have any other business apart from acting but before I settled down for acting, I was a businesswoman.
What advice do you have for all the young generation actresses who may see you as their role models?
Just be yourself. Don’t go beyond your limit and they should not emulate bad behaviours because they want to get there. Let’s all be prayerful and be focused. They don’t need to be in a hurry, God doesn’t forget anyone of us. I believe He will surely answer our prayer.
You always appear radiant, what is the secret of your beauty?
I don’t have any secret other than Jesus Christ. In everything I do, I always put God first.
You always wear low cut, is there any special reason for that?
No special reason for it, it is just my ‘logo’ and I love it.
Recently, we learnt you celebrated your 50th birthday, how true is it?
That is not true, I am above 50th now. I marked my 50 in 2009 but it wasn’t elaborate due to what happened then. The one I also marked was in September 2010 that was when I was 51. by September 2011, I will clock 52.
What is the greatest pain in your life?
It is not just one but the first was when my only son died. The other one was the death of my cousin and my boss, Adeyemi Afolayan and also when I lost my mother. I can’t forget all of these in a hurry. They make me feel sad anytime I remember them.
What is your greatest joy?
My children are my greatest joy. I always thank God for that.
Why haven’t you remarried all this while because you still look young?
I don’t need to remarry. I am okay as a single mother. I don’t complain. My children are grown ups, I have to pay attention to my children because I love them so much. At my age, I don’t think the issue of men should be my priority.
Looking back, what would you say is your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement are my children, all other things are secondary. I always pray to live long enough to reap the fruits of my labour on them.
What else are you looking up to God for?
Everything depends on what God wants for me. But my prayer is always that whatever is mine should be given to me at the appropriate time. I believe God is in charge of my life and He has always been there for me and He won’t disappoint me.
When you were a child, did you ever think of becoming an actress, let alone coming this far?
I never thought of it, but destiny would always be there for every human being. When God says yes, no one can say no and vice versa. I always put God first, He is my guide and He has always been my guide even when I was a child. So, becoming an actress and coming this far has been ordained by Him. He knows what fits me and He always fulfils it for me. I thank Him for His mercies on me and my family.
What is your philosophy of life?
Putting God first, then every other thing can follow. Just like I just said, He is my guide and I will continue to praise Him.
At your age, what are those things you think you can’t do again?
Not until you’re 50 that you need to check all what you are doing or set a new way of life. Since you’re a mother, you’re already a role model and you need to see yourself as a good guardian to your children. Whatever you don’t want your children to learn, you don’t do it because charity begins at home. I have not involved myself in any scandal and I can never, because I don’t want to set a bad record for my children. That is why I am always very careful and as a public figure, all eyes are on you. Anything I do. I always add the fear of God to it even before I attained this age.
At what age do you intend quitting acting?
If God does not retire me, I am not going to retire myself. That means I would act throughout my lifetime and if I have the opportunity of reincarnating, I will still be an actress.
Is there any of your children who will like to step into your shoes?
None of them yet.
I can’t compel them to do what I am doing for a living. They have every right to make a choice of whatever pleases them. If they decide to come into acting tomorrow, they are welcome. I will give them all the necessary support.
Lest we forget, what is the major reason for marriage break-up among the entertainers, especially those of you in the movie industry?
I want to disagree with you on that. It is not only in the entertainment industry that marriages break-up often, it is rampant in all other professions, but because those of us in entertainment are in the public eyes. But women generally have problem concerning that and any marriage that will be intact will be intact no matter the storm and any marriage that will not be, won’t be, no matter what you do to keep it. A lot of single mothers out there that are not actresses, some women may have problem with their husbands’ families and no matter what they do to please them, they won’t love them. So, the best thing is to part ways, if they want to have peace. And let me also tell you, destiny is also there for everyone of us and there is nothing one can do to change it. But above all, it is only God that can put us through in all our endeavours.
– TADE ASIFAT
This story was first published in Encomium Weekly on Tuesday, May 24, 2012