Nollywood actress, Tonto Dikeh, was a guest at the unveiling ceremony of the 2017 African Children Talent Discovery Foundation, Unleash Your Talent. PREMIUM TIMES had a chat with the controversial movie star at the ceremony, which held in Lagos on Monday. In the interview, the mother-of-one spoke about her ‘Born Again Status’, and other issues
PT: Why are you passionate about the African Children Talent Discovery Foundation’s quest to discover young talents in Nigeria?
Tonto: My involvement in a talent show such as this is something I am very proud of. It’s more like evangelism to me. I am passionate about this cause because many talented Nigerian children will benefit a lot from it. As we all know, often times it’s very difficult to access the industry. I wish I had seasoned actors mentor me when I was starting out my career.
PT: Why do you regret not having a mentor early on in your career?
Tonto: Entertainment is not an easy path for anyone to tow because it can kill you, make you or destroy you. It has the power to do and undo, so as a mother I will tell everyone to be careful with the industry. But as an entertainer, I will say welcome to any fresh talent because there is no limit to what he or she can do with a talent. It’s even written in the bible that, ‘I will bless you through the works of your hands.’
PT: You have made so much noise about your foundation in the recent. What have you been up to in this regard?
Tonto: The Tonto Dikeh Foundation has been doing a lot recently. Every month, we try to do something different; and in August, we will tour the world speaking with female inmates. I am all for empowering women and the ‘One Girl, One Pen campaign.’ We all know that in our prisons, some people are on the death row but some others don’t seem to a have a means of survival for when they regain freedom. I have seen ex-convicts become great people in the society when they are released. So, I want to go into our prisons to empower the female inmates with skill acquisitions. We also plan to send some female inmates back to school when they regain their freedom.
PT: What is the main focus of your foundation?
Tonto: My foundation is very broad and when I was starting out, the focus was domestic violence, rape victims and physically abused women. But right now, being a mother and an advocate for God just broadens my purview. So my foundation is down for anything that will make the woman race better for it.
PT: How is your foundation funded?
Tonto: Like I said earlier, the Tonto Dikeh foundation is a big one. So, we have sponsors and people who key into our vision and run with us.
PT: Does this mean that your acting career has taken the back seat?
Tonto: I was off the scene for a long time but I retuned with a bang. I stared in a yet to be released film titledCelebrity Marriage and it will be out soon. I’m all fired up because I’m involved in the movie. I don’t want to be involved in the acting like I used to be in the past.
PT: Can you please shed more light on this?
Tonto: I have shot a film in a day, in the past but not any longer. I’m not looking for popularity so I am just trying to stay relevant by starring in very few quality movies. My family proposes that I shoot five quality movies in a year. I think three good movies in a year is fair enough. And that is what I have been looking for. That way, I can have time for my child and other people because I’m not just a mother of one but I am a mother of nations.
PT: What is the secret behind your new glow?
Tonto: Well, firstly I am born again and when you have God, you just radiate. So all the glow is from within; you don’t fake God’s glow. You also can’t fake God’s glory because it overwhelms you. I don’t know how to say what I want to say but when God steps into a situation or your life he elevates you and makes you see things in a different light. So, the glow you see is all God. I am a radical for Christ.
PT: Do you plan to set up a church or become an evangelist?
Tonto: Yes I will, before I became an entertainer I was close to becoming an evangelist but I backslid. But not to say anything, I am back with God. I don’t know where God is taking me to. But if it is the pulpit, I am ready.
PT: You go the extra length when it comes to your son. Your Fathers Day outing readily comes to mind.
Tonto: I heard motherhood is difficult but I think my son and I share a special kind of love that makes everything easy. Its not that I don’t get stressed out or mad at him sometimes. I do. But the love and the grace of God is sufficient for both of us.
PT: You appear to have adjusted to life in Abuja
Tonto: I thought I could never live outside Lagos because I thought everything outside Lagos was too slow. I need that slow life now because nobody is my face and neither am I in people’s faces. I’m changing my circle of friends and redecorating my life so I needed that space.
PT: Do you think you can regain your privacy again?
Tonto: I have always been a very private person and anything that people say about me is what they want to make up. No one truly knows me, no one knows what I eat or don’t eat. No one knows me and the only thing about me that is being made public is what I post on social media. So, if I don’t post it, disregard it.
PT: So, are some of the backlashes you have received on social media lately a result of your being born again?
Tonto: Well, even if I wasn’t born again, they will still come for me. You see, the devil cannot steal from an empty barrel; you have to be fully charged. I will go through a lot of things, whatever is happening now this is nothing compared to what is yet to come. What I have seen is not even half of what will come in the future. I am ready for more; there will be worse to come and I’m ready for it. When God prepares you in a different kind of way, I can fight my battles on my own strength.
PT: Following your new status as a child of God, will you remarry or reconcile with your estranged husband?
Tonto: Love is a beautiful thing and love is exquisite. So, of course, I will remarry once I find true love.