Not many actors in Yoruba movies have been able to cross over into English films, and maintain ubiquity and relevance. But Toyin Abraham, with a catalogue spanning over 100 movies since she started acting in 2003, ranks high on the list. Her Nollywood takeover is slightly hard to trace; her signature comedy chops ever so blistering. This year, Abraham starred in the Charles Uwagbai-directed ratchet comedy The Ghost and the Tout, Bridal Shower, Disguise, made guest appearances in the Toyin Lawani reality series Tiannah’s Empire, quite recently, Seven and a Half Dates.
She’s avidly industrious and in a recent interview with journalist Abiola Alaba Peters, Abraham renders a mini tell-all about her beginnings with her family before moving to Lagos, which was fraught with hardship, “I was born and raised in Ibadan and I come from a poor background. But, we never even let that bother us because we believe God would move. We were content with what we had. Though we were financially poor, we were not spiritually and mentally lacking.”
Abraham’s foray into the film industry came about when she encountered erstwhile Yoruba actress Bukky Wright, “They said Bukky Wright was coming to town to shoot ‘Dugbedugbe Nbo’ and that she needed someone. I was called, so I went to meet her. When I got there, it happened that they needed help for a particular role. The person listed to play the role was not available. I was asked to take over the role and I just did my thing. At the end, everybody started clapping.”
Abraham was never trained to be an actress but characterising roles was a natural talent. More acting roles began to trickle in and she began to cement herself in Yoruba movies. Then came the versatility that earned her credits in English movies. Even though she was already a household name, 2017 was Abraham’s big break with self-produced, star-studded movie Alakada Reloaded, the third instalment in the Alakada series. Although the movie wasn’t a favourite for critics, Alakada Reloaded grossed N25 million in three days. For the future, Abraham intends to slow down a bit and focus on family and make soap operas.