Newly crowned Miss Africa (Texas), Marilyn Kehinde George Tytler lives in Texas with her twin sister, Taiwo, who also doubles as her manager. She was in Nigeria recently and spoke with WALE ONIFADE and IFEOMA MEZE.
How did you venture into the beauty pageant?
I have always loved the line of modelling and I am a fan of Nigerians who have participated in international pageants like MNET Face of Africa and Miss World. So, when I heard about the pageant, I decided to participate and as God would have it, I was one of the finalists and I eventually became the winner.
Was there any significant thing you were able to achieve in Nigeria before moving to Texas?
Basically I was into modelling, but I couldn’t go far because of school. I travelled abroad immediately I finished and that’s when I continued my modelling before I participated in the pageant. I am seriously into the entertainment world in Texas because Nigeria has a huge base of entertainment flagship in Texas and the industry is growing so well and it’s well represented by most Nigerians in Diaspora and most actors in Africa come for production there too.
How does it feel to be the Miss Africa (Texas)?
Honestly, it was a dream come true, because it was actually the first pageant I got myself involved in and I think I’m very lucky to be the winner. We were like 150 contestants when the pageant started and being one of the finalists was actually a great joy for me. I met so many different people from different backgrounds, I learnt so many things and I got a better exposure in the industry. It was actually a dream come true.
Who and who participated in the pageant?
It was an African thing, be you African American or not but as long as you are African related, you have the right to contest in the pageant. I represented Nigeria at the pageant. The good thing about the organisers is the set objective to let the world know that good things come from Africa.
What do you think gave you an edge over other contestants?
To be realistic, other contestants are good looking just like me but my confidence, determination and charisma did the job for me to lead the game while they followed. Let me tell you, the pageant is actually not only about beauty; it entails so many things like purpose, determination, commitment, your lifestyle and personality. There were so many beautiful people from different African countries at the pageant but I was lucky to be the queen because I was always at different functions packaged by the organisers which showed my commitment and I think I got higher scores because of my dedication and effort to meet the set goals and objectives of the organisers to the admiration of the panel of judges. I also think I won with the support of my twin sister who is also my manager.
Can you tell us your most indispensable item?
I can’t do without my phones because communication to me is very important. If you take my phone, it will be as if you have taken my better half, I mean my twin sister.
What do you miss about Nigeria?
Although there are great opportunities abroad but you can never live the way you live in your country in a foreign land. I miss the Nigerian food like ewa aganyin (Togolese beans) and dodo (fried plantain). I miss my traditional wears because basically we only wear our traditional clothes on Sundays when we are going to church, which has become a tradition. I am a member of Redeemed Christian Church of God. I miss my family because my family is not permanently based there. Nigeria is my country no matter what anybody says and I will never forget that I am a Nigerian no matter what or where I go because there is no place like home and that’s one of the reasons I’m back home to give back to the society where I spent my better years before travelling abroad to further my education and career.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I see myself in great places, I see myself achieving most of my dreams and I see myself well established in the entertainment world, owning my own company and giving hopes and actualisation to young Nigerian dreams. I would probably be married, have my own family because I love children and I can’t wait to be a good mother to my children by God’s grace.
Can you give us a peep into your beauty routine?
In the night before going to bed and when I wake up in the morning the first thing I do is to wash my face, apply my cleanser, moisturise my face and I make sure I drink a lot of water to clear my system. To be frank, beauty routine is about you and your body not really what you apply, just discipline yourself about what you use and eat and keep fit. I do a lot of washing whenever I’m back home.
Any specialty or talent?
Yeah, I am a real African woman. I know how to take good care of children; I weave and cook very well.
Are your parents in support of what you are doing presently?
My mum is 100 percent in support of my chosen passion right from the beginning but my dad was indifferent because every parent will always want their children to face their studies, like he always says, school first, no distraction. After my first degree, he let go and prayed for the best for my twin sister and I.
Any pet project you are working on?
I contested the pageant on the platform of creating awareness for child abuse. Child abuse happens world over and many don’t know the extent in Africa and a lot of parents don’t actually pay attention to what is going on with their children in school and other public places. I came home to see how I can help the abused and less privileged children in the country. My manager was able to arrange courtesy visits to motherless babies homes where we donated gifts and relief materials for their upkeep. It’s something that I do whenever I visit Nigeria and I hope to get corporate support to take care of abused children through my foundation’s pet project even when I’m out of the country.
You said you love acting; do you have any movie(s) to your credit?
Back there in Texas, I have actually done four films. My first film was The Birth produced by Joy Orie of JJ Bunny Production, it was shot in 2009 but just released in December 2010. I was the lead actor with Van Vicker, a Ghanaian actor as my husband in the movie. Then, I did The Other Side of Love, it has the likes of Ramsey Nouah and Ini Edo. Rebound was produced by Icon Media Production. And the latest one I shot is called This Is Houston but it’s not yet out.
What’s your next move?
Well, this is one of the best things that have kept my sister and I going. We plan to launch our TV show called Luc N Lyn, a kind of lifestyle reality talk show to mirror our lives from the beginning, the African society at large and give a platform for common Nigerians to get exclusive interviews to express themselves and actualise their dreams and aspiration in one voice.
Lets have an idea of your educational background
I had my first degree at Covenant University, Sango Ota in Nigeria where I studied banking and finance. I went abroad and I am presently studying nursing for my second degree.
Why did you choose your twin sister to be your manager?
First of all, she knows everything about me and I think for something like this you really need someone you can trust. I didn’t say I can’t trust anybody. She’s my sister, my best friend and she’s been supporting me all the way, just like any manager will do. So why look for another manager when she’s been doing that perfectly for me, even before I became the queen? She’s actually my backbone and I’m very proud to have her as my manager.
Are you fulfilled with your achievement so far?
If you use fulfilled, that means you are content and telling God not to do anything more for you. I will say I’m comfortable and happy where I am now and still hoping for higher places in the nearest future.
What would you like to be remembered for?
I wish to be remembered for every good thing life can offer through me. I wish to have a positive impact on people that come across me and as someone that made a great impact in the entertainment world, home and abroad.
What would you like to change in the entertainment industry if you have the powers to turn things around?
I don’t really know much about the entertainment industry in Nigeria now, but the one I belong to in Texas America. I wish I could change the sexual harassment that an up and coming actresses should sleep with the producer to get a role. Before I got my first role, I had an experience too with a producer that wanted me to meet him at a hotel before I could get auditioned in Texas. Even, before I left Nigeria with my twin sister, we had such experience too. All this sexual harassment has to stop because it prevents talented stars from actualising their dreams, but some of us are just lucky to get to the industry without succumbing to the harassments. I wish there was a law that keeps the producers away from searching for the talents needed in the movie industry; they should just be featured on the recommendation of the academy that might have auditioned them. The industry is not so well organised and it lacks total discipline.
Who are your favorite actors?
In Nigeria, I respect the talents of people like Joke Jacobs, she’s a role model. I love Genevieve Nnaji, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Kate Henshaw-Nuttal, Olu Jacobs, Richard Mofe Damijo, Ramsey Nouah and the rest who made Nollywood a force to reckon with in the movie industry.