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Toyin Abraham: The actress as ‘box office’ queen

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Whoever advised notable Yoruba actress, Toyin Abraham, to venture into making movies that distributors would find good enough to hit cinemas, may be likened to a guiding angel.

The delectable actress, who is better known in movie circles as Toyin Aimakhu, is gradually finding a permanent spot on the shortlist of ladies of the silver screen that can be regarded as box office queens.

Sitting pretty well on that list is the notable Amazon, Mo Abudu, whose box office figures at the cinema, from her debut feature as Executive Producer of Fifty to the phenomenal The Wedding Party, which she co-produced, is yet to be matched, as well as award-winning actress and later day producer and director, Omoni Oboli.

But Toyin is the reigning queen now. Her second cinema movie, Ghost and The Tout, a collaboration between her outfit and Samuel Olatunji’s Big Sam Media, has reportedly shattered existing box office records.

The movie, according to reports, strolled into the cinemas on May 11 to set a new opening weekend record for this year by grossing N13million in three days.

“This is a feat,” said Yemi Babaoba, a notable entertainment journalist. “I said it is a feat because this year, quite a number of Nollywood movies have been released, with many of them taking a knock, as they performed below par across cinemas.

“But the Ghost and the Tout, which is still showing and attracting huge following, has knocked Disney’s Avenger Infinity off number one and has taking over number one spot, a feat not often seen at the box office in Nigeria.”

The Ghost and the Tout tells the story of Isila (Toyin), a young woman from the ghetto who encounters a ghost in need of her help to communicate with those he left behind.

At the ghost’s request, she becomes tangled in solving a murder mystery and her life takes an interesting turn.

A movie buff, Lanre Ajakaiye, said the movie succeeded because it was “hilarious” and had a mixture of the older generation, such as Dele Odule and Chiwetalu Agwu, and the influx of the new generations, such as Bobrisky, Josh2funny, Lasisi Eleni, and the balance of young and experienced actors, such as Femi Adebayo, Chioma Chukwuka, Sambasa Nzeribe and Toyin herself.

As at May 30, distributors hinted that the movie had made over N30million in its one week of release, a feat they described “incredible,” considering that it is still facing stiff competition from Hollywood titles, such as Avengers and DeadPool.

In fact, observers said with the movie still pulling crowd, it might turn out to be one of the highest grossing releases of this year so far.

This was the same way Toyin’s first cinema movie, Alakada, was celebrated. The comedy sold out in key cinemas across the country.

Released nationwide on May 26, the movie, which featured the likes of Adekola Odunlade, Lilian Esoro, Annie Idibia, Ali Baba, Kehinde Bankole, Woli Arole, Helen Paul, Bidemi Kosoko, Liz Da Silva and Gabriel Afolayan, among others, grossed an unprecedented N25million in its first three days at the cinema.

A week later, it made the list of top five releases of last year.

Other movies on the list include Okafor’s Law, which made N90million; Omugwo, with N48million; Hire a Man, with N45million and American Driver, with N41million

No doubt, Toyin’s brand has continued to grow exponentially. Indeed, with this performance, the actress, who disclosed recently that she has “found love,” has confirmed her status as the new box office queen, having delivered back-to-back box office success.

Born in Auchi, Edo State, but raised in Ibadan, Oyo State, Toyin started out as an actress in 2003.

A product of the Ibadan Polytechnic, where she studied Marketing, she has had two unsuccessful relationships, first with the actor, Seun Egbegbe, who was nabbed for stealing phones, and more recently with the socialite, Adeniyi Johnson.

She has featured in and has produced several movies in Yoruba and English language, including Okafor’s Law, Love is in the Hair, Alani Baba Labake, Black Val, Ebi Mi Ni, Alakada, Sola Fe Pami, Esohe and Wives on Strike.

She disclosed that her career ambition is to set up a one-stop shop for movie production and training, adding: “I want to continue to do movies that people will like. I want to be the best at what I do and also get to the very top. I want to set up something like a studio, a big production outfit that can handle production from production to post.

“I want to also be associated with quality and to give back by running a small training facility.

“I pray to God to give me the resources to be able to accomplish all my dreams.”


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