Oluwatoyin Oyenike Oyewunmi Olabintan first aspired to be a footballer who thought that she could play herself to the limelight in the round leather game. But her trials at Arsenal, Crystal Palace and other women’s football teams in England ended briefly due to injury and what fate had in stock for her.
Toyin Olabintan, whose stage name is Toyin Nike, later found herself in the movie industry, with her current success suggesting this was always her God-ordained path. Since she ventured into acting as a career, she has been steadily making her mark in the industry.
Speaking with Timescape magazine in Lagos, Toyin Nike described her journey in life as eventful and divinely orchestrated.
“I set out in life to be a footballer and I was good at the trade on the pitch, but I didn’t realize that God had other things for me in life. I started playing football in Nigeria, as a hobby before moving to England where I had the opportunity of having a series of trials with big teams such as Long Lane Football Club, Arsenal, Crystal Palace, West Ham, and others.
“Unfortunately, I did not last long in the football business as injury shortened my ambition and I had to quit because I didn’t succeed,” said the mother of two, who hails from Ekiti State, southwest Nigeria.
When the football career failed to work out Toyin Nike had to figure out a fresh path. She says that this is when she realized acting was a possible alternative career path.
“I was once the drama coordinator of my Church, Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) in Nigeria, and when I got to London, I was also fully involved in the drama section of a branch of the CAC I was attending. I was the Church’s movie director,” she says.
In 2018, Toyin Nike who already held a law degree enrolled on an acting course at the Identity School of Acting (IDSA) in London. While she completed and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in law from the University of Greenwich in the UK, Toyin Nike, she focused on acting and directing movies, which seems to have worked out well.
TA New Generation Film Production produced her major work, in a movie titled Identical Justice. The movie was shot in two different countries, Nigeria and the United Kingdom and award winner Tope Alake from Nigeria directed it alongside UK-based Marc Adebesin.
Identical Justice, produced in 2021, premiered at the Odeon IMAX Cinema in Greenwich, London on March 4, 2022, and won an award at the 2022 Auber International Film Festival. It also made it to the finals at the Cinematic European Film Festival 2022.
It has also been nominated for the Best Feature Film category at the Bayelsa International Film Award scheduled for October 26-29, 2022, in Nigeria.
Toyin Nike who also has authored a book titled ‘Don’t get Jilted’ which presently sells on Amazon and Okadabooks websites said her movie, Identical Justice, was premised on her personal experience about the mysterious death of her cousin in Nigeria.
She says the psychological pain and trauma which she went through after the death of her cousin motivated her to do the movie which featured an array of established Nigerian actors and actresses such as Bankole Ninalowo, Shaffy Bello, Jemia Osuade, Akin Lewis, Abayomi Alvin and a host of others.
According to her, the cost of producing Identical Justice was in the region of N15 million ($36,000).
“Identical Justice is a movie about a military officer, who lives abroad but comes home to Nigeria to unravel the circumstances surrounding the death of her twin sister in a corruption-ridden society. I play the lead role in the movie,” she says.
Regarding the challenges she faced while producing the movie, Toyin Nike says funding has been a major obstacle to most movie producers in Nigeria.
“The advanced world has made movie production very easy for the stakeholders to the extent that you can easily access funds to execute your works,” she says.
In Nigeria, Toyin Nike says funds for movie making are hard to find. She adds that collaboration among the actors and the actresses is also rare.
“It has also been difficult for upcoming stars to rise to stardom. A lot is not yet in place for Nollywood to meet up with its counterparts across the world. The Nigerian Nollywood is miles apart from meeting up with Hollywood, Bollywood, and other movie industries across the world,” she says.
She adds that although the plan for Identical Justice is to have it watched and seen everywhere across the world, the plan to bring it to Nigerian cinema was put on hold because of the high costs. The plan now is to reach markets such as Nigeria by marketing to Amazon and Netflix.