Tonto Dike could be described as an enigma of sort. The actress is not only versatile, she is also very beautiful and controversial. In this interview with ADUNOLA FASUYI, she says many people don’t really know her. Excerpts:
A lot of people make comments about you. Some don’t really know you, some haven’t even met you, yet, they just have this description or perception about you...
First of all, I will like to say I forgive anybody out there who thinks evil or nasty things about me. But coming to the point of what they say, are they saying those things because of what I do in the movies or they are saying these thing because they know my regular life? That is what I look out for and I find out that it is just from the movies, so, it’s okay. Whatever anybody says is okay. After the movie, Dirty Secret, a lot of people started saying Tonto is now a sex symbol. Well, no qualms.
How did you feel after that part you took in the movie?
It was really very beautiful. It was nice; I enjoyed every bit, working with everybody there and doing that movie. I think I just made a beautiful movie irrespective of the role.
You weren’t disturbed by the fact that there were lots of ‘immoralities’ in it?
No, I wasn’t, because we were trying to put up a life story of a young girl to the public and these are all the things that happened to her and it had to be shown that these were all she went through and these were the decisions she took for her to be like that. I think people are just missing the point. I think the sex things are just overclouding the senses of the people such that they don’t really get the message of the film and that is really sad.
The fact that people now tag you a sex symbol, everything about you is sex, does it not disturb you?
It doesn’t disturb me a bit, because I’m just doing my job, it’s simply a make believe business. Of course, I’m human and some things get to me, but not things as little as that.
There is a story about you dating Whiz kid, how true is it?
That’s a false story. It is very false. I never dated Whiz kid.
Is it false because he is younger or what?
That is not the reason it is false. It is just false because it is not true.
What is your perception of Nollywood generally in terms of content and production?
I think we are doing pretty well. For the past two years, we have been doing incredibly well, although not to the point where we want to be or where we desire to be. We are doing very well. I just wish we could have the resources, equipment, the space, the support and love we need to make this a better industry. I just hope that we get it and move forward.
Do you like the fact that every Nollywood practitioner or everybody is looking towards ‘lets do it like Hollywood’ or do you think we should just do movies that really portray Africa the way we are?
I think the mixture of the both is fine. A little bit of that, a little bit of this is okay. There is no need being stereotyped, since we can divert into doing cultural movies, epics and we can divert into doing semi-Hollywood movies. It’s still okay.
Do you do any other business aside acting?
I do things by the side, but I’m not going to talk about that.
There is a rumour that you are a car dealer, is it true?
Yes, I know you must have heard something like that. It’s true. It’s a lovely business. I used to do it with a friend of mine but we have little hitches here and there. It’s nothing that we cannot handle.
Are you a homely girl, that is can you be caught cooking or doing house chores?
I don’t cook, not because I don’t know how to cook. I mean I could try to cook and make you a good meal, but it’s not just my thing. The regular thing I do is just sit at home with my friends, watch movies. I love to watch movies a lot. I think I am very homely, because I practically do everything myself at home.
So you do house chores like washing?
No, I don’t wash. I hate to wash, but every other thing like cleaning my room, I handle myself. I do other things around the house, not that I don’t have other people to do it, but I am just never satisfied with the way they handle it. You cannot satisfy me when it comes to hygiene. I work on them when I am at home.
What other career gets your attention than acting?
Recently, I just got crazy with my thoughts and I know I want to go into music. I love music, don’t get me wrong, I am not the best singer in the world. I don’t want to be the best singer in the world either, but I just want to have fun with music. I want to feel music, I want to love music and I want to make good music. If I work on my voice and I learn a few tricks, I can be very good with that too.
What is this thing with all actors loving music as a second career these days?
For me, I have always loved music, but I have never thought about singing. The passion just came. I have people around me who can help me make music become a big success. That is why I am willing to take that bold step.
What are you working on right now?
It’s a beautiful script. My character in the movie that I am doing right now is a little bit subtle, although at the end of the day in the movie, I get exposed as a gold digger, which is that real character of the person that is hidden, but I have this façade of a good girl, innocent attitude. It’s more like the life of a girl living a life of pretence and duping people.
Why do you think they always give you the ‘gold digger’ role?
This present movie that I am doing, I am more soft and subtle. I can be duping you but I will be smiling and making you feel I am innocent. My role this time is not about the wild lipstick, wild hair or have sex everywhere which everyone knows me for. But when it is time to have sex in movies, we will have sex. It’s just acting.
Can you date someone younger than you are?
I don’t think there is any crime in that. There is nothing wrong with that as long as you maintain a certain level of maturity and we work together as a team. Whether much older or younger, I don’t think it’s a problem, but the older the better. It doesn’t mean that if I fall in love with someone that is younger than I am, that I wouldn’t be there for the person.
Are you in love with anybody right now?
I am not going to talk about my personal life.
How do you handle the male advances which everyone knows you will be getting lots of?
I am always smiling. I make sure I always have a big smile on my face. I laugh myself out of a lot of situations that I am supposed to be stuck with. When I get approached by these men, I just put on a big smile on my face.
What do you do when people say these things to your face?
The good thing is that somehow, I command a lot of respect. You cannot just come to my face and say rubbish. You can tweet about it, you can send a text about it, but not just to my face. Not just to my face really. As long as they keep it off my face, that is all right. I don’t expect everybody to like me.
Are you looking forward to getting married soon?
It’s not something I get anxious about. If it comes, fine. It’s every girl’s dream. It’s a day that makes you feel like a princess. With the kind of job that I do, I keep a 50-50 mind, I just want to be happy.
Some people are of the opinion that you sleep around, is it true?
It depends on what they mean by that. Yes, I sleep in different beds. If I go to Enugu to work, it’s a different bed, if I go to Warri, it’s also a different bed and so on. Is that what sleeping around is?
Are you that much into men?
Which girl is not into men? Am I supposed to be into women? Women should love men, men should love women. Even God is loved. So, whats the big deal? There is nothing wrong with that. Common, be realistic!
People feel some ladies in the industry are practising Lesbianism, what do you think about that?
That is their private life, I don’t have a right to talk about them or what they do or what they believe in. I have my different belief that works for me. If that works for them, they should knock themselves out. I don’t discriminate. I mean it’s in the Bible. God destroyed a whole country because of the sin of being gay. God killed a whole country, knowing there could be kings, there could be pastors and righteous people in that country, so obviously, it is bad.
So we can say Tonto Dike is also very religious?
I am a good Christian surprisingly. I am a member of the Christ Embassy, but in Lagos, which is far from home, that is, Port Harcourt, I worship with This Present House, Lekki.
Can you tell us how you got into acting?
It actually started after I left a Reality T.V show called, Next Movie Star, where I emerged as the second runner up, i.e. second position. That was in 2006.
For you to be in that Reality TV Show, does it mean that somehow, you knew you were going to be an actress?
No. It wasn’t like I had a passion for acting from childhood. Although, I loved all the church plays and school dramas, but it had never been a strong passion for me, until I grew up a little and I started having the desire for acting. So, it was not like I wanted to act from childhood, of course I enjoyed going to see the films as a child. I never knew it was going to be a big desire like this.
At what point did you start seeing it as a big desire since you never thought about being an actress?
My first semester in year three in the university was when I started taking it seriously. That was when I came back from the Reality T.V show and knew that there was a chance for me.
What course were you studying in the school?
But why the deviation?
Petro-chemical Engineering is a strong line and it is not an easy course.
How come you left it for acting?
I didn’t leave it. I just found a way to satisfy my education and also satisfy my passion. I just split myself into two. I did not leave it. Definitely in the future, I will venture into it again, but for now, I think I’m into entertainment for a while.
Have you graduated now?
Yes. I have.
How did you do it? Was it difficult, the course involves a lot of calculations, together with acting how did you do it?
It’s difficult, but I’ve never been like a reading person, I have never been the type sitting down to read literature. I love the calculation part of life rather than reading. I can’t be a lawyer, because I can’t read that much, but I can do lots of calculation. I think it was just growing up and knowing my educational strength that made me decide I was going to be an engineer plus my father again and where I came from is an oil producing state. That is Rivers State.
A lot of people think you are Igbo because of the ‘Dike’ in your name?
No, I’m not. My mum is partially Igbo.