She is a woman of many talents; a graduate of Economics and Marketing from the University of Lancaster, she has made a name for herself in the world of Photography, Music and Acting. Known to many as Toni Tones, she is Anthonia Gbemisola Adefuye. In this interview, she talks about life as a musician, an actress and a photographer, her love for God and what it takes to combine all three passions.
TM: What made you delve into music from Photography?
TT: Music is what I have always wanted to do right from when I was a little girl. Ever since I was of age, I always wanted to be a musician and an actress as well. The professional interest in photography came when I was in the university, but I always wanted to go into music and acting. As a little girl, I was always organizing plays, singing songs at Christmas parties and things like that, so it was just what I knew I was going to do.
TM: You seem to be all Art inclined, but you studied Economics and Marketing, why didn’t you study something Art related?
TT: You know how Nigerian parents are, plus you want to have as many options as possible. You want to keep your options open. I studied Economics and Marketing, that degree is always there, it is always an option for me. I learned a lot from that as well and that is what I use in my business today. The things that I do are my passion. Passion can lead you; passion can also guide you, teach you and also help you learn. I would have loved to study something related to what I do now; I mean, I would have loved to go to music school; I would have loved to study photography professionally at the university. But I didn’t and I am still able to do these things, and, like I said, my degree still works for me till now. A marketing degree still works for me.
TM: How would you describe your music?
TT: My music is very different from everything else that is out there; my sound is RnB mixed with Pop. But my style is very different and unique. My sound is not the usual sound that you are used to in Nigeria.
TM: There seems to be competition in the music industry with new artistes coming up every day, how do you distinguish yourself from the lot?
TT: I don’t necessarily know anything about competition. I mean if that is the case, then there is competition everywhere. I think that there is enough space in the sky for all birds to fly; I think everyone is doing a great work in their own way but the media makes the comparison which sort of comes off as competition. I am very focused on my path, very focused on my journey. I feel like God has a plan and a set path for everyone. There is competition and it is healthy. Everyone is churning out great work, everyone is doing good music and I am sure that we all inspire each other to be better. So that can only be good. But I don’t call it competition. I don’t think anybody is competing with me, I don’t think I am competing with anybody. Everybody is doing the best they can. I don’t really see it as competition.
TM: Away from the music scene, down to acting. How did you get your first acting gig?
TT: My first gig was a drama series called Gidi Culture. It was my very first audition. When I moved back to Nigeria, I wanted to go into acting, and I didn’t know how to. I didn’t know how to start, there were no auditions, and photography was easier to get into because, I just took my work to different magazines and said “Hey, this is what I can do, can I shoot for you?” My first audition for Gidi Culture, it was actually my friend Toke Makinwa who said “Hey there is this audition and you should go”. So I went and I snagged the lead role and that was really encouraging for me. And from there it just took off.
TM: Over time, do you plan to combine music and acting?
TT: I do combine both, so there is no question of overtime.
TM: Most people start off combining these two, but as time goes on, they just drop one.
TT: I think when that happens, it is life that does that for you. If that happens, it means that one overtakes the other. If your music career is taking off more, it doesn’t really give you time for acting, it pushes you in that direction and if the acting career is taking off more, it doesn’t really give you much time for music so it pushes you in that direction too. I think life makes the decision; you don’t really make it yourself. If I could choose between music, photography, and acting, I would choose, because I don’t really have time for myself and it is quite tasking combining all. But I feel like life would make that decision for me. Life and circumstances would make that decision for me. For now, I am pushing all three.
TM: Who is Toni Tones behind the screens?
TT: I am really quiet, I am a huge introvert and this comes as a shock to most people. When I am not working, I am home, in my room, reading a book. I spend time with my family when I can, it is quite strange because the work pushes you out there and forces you to go out for events and socialize and meet people. But naturally, that isn’t who I am; I am very quiet and I keep to myself a lot. I am also very God-fearing; I love going to church, reading my bible and I take as much time to fellowship with God as I can and it is also a surprise to people as well.
TM: Which artistes do you look up to home and abroad?
TT: On the international scene, Meryl Streep, is one of my all-time favorite actresses, I think she is just amazing, Denzel Washington as well, I think he is just one of the greats. Julia Roberts and Scarlet Johansson are really good too. Back to Nigeria, I love Genevieve, I love her brand, I love what she has done with her brand over the years, and I think she is beautiful as well. In music, internationally, I love Drake, Beyoncé because if nothing else, you have to respect her work ethic. Bringing it back home, I love Wizkid, because he is a trailblazer. He is putting African music on the map right now. For the ladies, I love Tiwa Savage, Niniola, Simi, Cynthia Morgan, and Lola Rae. I love all the new school girls. I think everyone is doing great as well.
TM: People say it is very hard for artistes to stay committed in relationships especially when they have a lot going for them. What is your take on this?
TT: Generally, I feel a lot of marriages go through divorce and it is not just in the entertainment scene. There is just a focus on entertainment because entertainers are in the public eye. And when they go through difficulties or anything like that, it is under a magnifying glass and ends up seeming worse than it is. I don’t believe entertainers cannot keep relationships. I believe that if you put God first in your relationship, it would go well. I don’t want to feed the fear that entertainers cannot keep relationships. I am an entertainer and I hope to get married one day and stay married forever and, I know that as long as I put God first in my marriage that would happen in its own time.
TM: Do you have anything in works which we should be expecting from you?
TT: Yes, many things. I have a movie in the cinemas right now, called “It Is Her Day”, written and produced by Bovi. I have a video coming out very soon featuring Cynthia Morgan, the “Hey Boy” remix video. I have a new drama series coming up soon, a MNet Drama series called “Head Over Heels”, and a few movies coming out next year which I am very excited about. I have more and more music also. There is just a whole lot. I am going to be attacking your TV screens. I apologize in advance.
Culled from Issue 14