Toni Tones Covers The February Issue Of Aura Magazine
07 Feb, 2019 6:47 AM
It is always a pleasure to unveil a February issue of Aura, to herald the start of fashion’s new season,
Toni Tones is a triple-threat force to be reckoned with, Born Gbemi Anthonia Adefuye, She is an actress, singer, and photographer whose influence in the Nigerian entertainment industry has become undeniable.
From her critically acclaimed role as Young Eniola in Kemi Adetiba’s film, “King of Boys,” to photographing renowned celebrities like Wizkid, to chart-topping singles on the music charts, Toni Tones shows no signs of slowing down.
Her show stopping looks both on and off the red carpet have certified her as a style icon of her generation.
In this interview with Aura Magazine, we recently caught up with the versatile star, and asked her all the questions you’ve always wanted to know the answers to.
- We all know that Toni Tones is an actress, singer, and photographer. But tell us who you are in your own words.
I’m just a girl who is trying to live her purpose.
Using my talent in the Arts to not only entertain, but to impact the world around me positively and working to make my country proud and contribute to us gaining even more global recognition.
- You first started out as a photographer. What spurred the transition into acting and singing?
I have always had a passion for acting and music. Ever since I was eight years old, I have wanted to be an actor and a musician. I was always the one in the family who would put together elaborate plays and musicals for Christmas, Easter and New Year.
My cousins would literally come to me before Christmas and say, “so what do you have planned for us this year?”
I was exposed to music at a young age. My brother was a musician in the late 90’s. He discovered I had a talent for music, and would take me to the studio to record and sing backup for some of his songs. He would act as my vocal coach. I was about eight years old and from then on, I knew I wanted to be a musician.
- You are undoubtedly THE breakout star in Nollywood right now thanks to your role in King of Boys and that role has gone on to verify you as a critically acclaimed actress. How do you feel about that?
Thank you! I feel really blessed.
I never imagined the response to my role in KOB would be as intense as it has been and I’m just so thankful.
I put a lot of work into becoming ‘the young Eniola Salami’ and I’m just grateful that all of my effort is being recognized.
- Speaking of ‘King of Boys,’ How were you able to land the role of ‘Young Eniola’?
That was thanks to Kemi Adetiba.
I heard she was making a film and Kemi is a director I had been dying to work with.
I reached out to her and let her know I would love to audition for her film.
She set up an audition for me a few days later. She was impressed with my audition and cast me.
A fun fact: I never auditioned for the role I played, the young ‘King of Boys’. I actually auditioned for The role of Kemi Salami, her daughter, which went on to be played by Adesua, but Kemi thought I was more suited for the role of Young Eniola and cast me for that.
I will always be grateful to her for the opportunity to play this role, that gave me a chance to really show my versatility as an actor.
- it is public knowledge that you gained over 33 pounds to play the role. In the history of Nollywood, we do not have on record any actor ever going through such an extreme body transformation just to play a role. Even in Hollywood it’s quite rare, only their critically acclaimed actors go to those lengths for their craft. What inspired you to do this?
As an actor, I always try to give above and beyond what is required of me. I prefer to do too much to avoid the risk of doing too little. Putting in the work to make every character as authentic as possible is key for me.
Playing the ‘Young Eniola Salami’ (Young Sola Sobowale) in ‘King of Boys’ was quite challenging for me. It’s easier to create a character from scratch; you get to make it your own. But when you’re playing the younger version of someone, there’s already a blueprint set out for you that you have to follow. You have to move, look and sound like the person.
You have to convince that you really are the younger version of who you are playing. I made the decision to put on weight for the role for two reasons,
- I knew it would help me look more like Sola Sobowale
- I knew it would make people see less of ‘Toni Tones’ because they are used to me being slim and I needed them to as little of Toni Tones in this character as possible.
Aunty Sola was much slimmer as a young girl, but we don’t know that ‘Sola Sobowale.’ We know the Sola Sobowale of today, so it was my job to convince the audience that I was the younger version of the Sola Sobowale we all know today.
So putting on weight was one of the steps I took. Not exactly the same size as Aunty Sola, but a size that makes her more easily recognisable and more easily conceivable that I could have morphed into her present size at her current age. I also strained and lost my voice on purpose so I could have the same husky tone to my voice that Aunty Sola has.
A lot of people thought my voice was digitized to make me sound like her, but it was wasn’t, I just trained my voice to sound like hers.
It was also very important to me to make Kemi Adetiba proud of her decision to cast me in that role. I was very grateful to not have been typecast, so I was determined to go the extra mile.
I am glad all the work paid off. I spent over two months doing nothing else but studying Sola Sobowale. I refused other work so I wouldn’t have to go out of character and stay focused. The audience and industry’s reaction to my ‘Young Eniola’ makes all that work one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.
- Would you say that 'King of Boys' opened more doors for you?
Yes, definitely. KOB exposed me to a broader audience, new opportunities and a completely new fan base.
- What obstacles have you faced in your acting career and how have you overcome them?
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.
I overcame by persevering. 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 numerous talents, 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 given 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 so fulfilled now.
What are some other movies you have featured in? I’ve been in numerous movies, some of which are, Lara and The Beat, The Royal Hibiscus Hotel, June, It’s Her Day, 5Th Floor and many more including a good of tv shows and web series like
Rumour has it’, ‘head over heels’ and the list goes in.
- Where do you see yourself in the industry five years from now?
Five years from now, I hope to have broken into Hollywood.
Five years from now, I should also be well settled into producing and directing my own films, providing opportunities for actors and contributing to the Nollywood narrative.
- Who are three actors you would love to work with?
Meryl Streep, Lupita Nyong’o, Leonardo Di Caprio
Now let’s talk about style. Your known for having amazing style and are always on best dressed lists. You are one celebrity that people look forward to seeing on the red carpet. Tell us How would you describe your style.
I would describe my sense of style as chic and timeless.
I rarely follow trends, I just wear what I like, whether it’s in style or not but what. I prefer for my style to transcend time. 50 years from now, my looks should still be relevant and be recreated by the young starlets of that time.
- If you were Queen of the world for one day, what universal laws of love would you formulate and urge people to implement?
I would probably make it mandatory for people to stop and help a person in trouble or in need if they are able. I’d ensure we were all our neighbour’s keeper.
- How do you practice self love?
I practice self love by removing my self from any situation that makes me uncomfortable or affects me negatively.
Also, Work can get hectic and time consuming but I also try to constantly create ‘Me time’ away from all hustle and bustle so I don’t burn out.
- From your perspective, what is the ultimate expression of Love?
That is a very tough question because ‘Love’. Means different things to different people.
But for me, it would be some who supports me and genuinely wants to see me succeed and be happy and whose actions support that.
- What's next for Toni Tones?
I have new music coming out this year. I have new films and TV shows coming out as well. I’ve shot a project called MMM (Men, Money and Marriage) slated to air this year. I’ve also shot a series titled, Mascara, directed by Walt ‘Banger’ Taylor which starts very soon and I have started work on a new film called ‘Foreigner’s God’. That’s all I can talk about for now.
I’m also working on producing my first film this year.
Do you have any advice for upcoming actors?
My advice would be to never stop learning because it can always be better.
And never give up, your breakthrough might be just around the corner.
Thank you so much For spending time with us Toni and helping us get to know you a little better. We look forward to much more amazing things from you in the future.
Thank you for having me, you guys have been wonderful.