TOKE MAKINWA: Inspiring Young Women
By Funke Ajomale
Following the success of her book “On Becoming”, it is a delight to have the media and fashion ‘It Girl’ grace the cover of Allure.
The aim of the shoot, to show the many sides of Toke, was without a doubt what we got. The shoot which held at White Space Creative Agency in Ikoyi, Lagos, started in the cool of the evening and ended a few hours into the night. Despite having had a very busy day, Toke made sure to wear a smile all the time and lit up the room with cheerful laughter.
Toke Makinwa is, definitely, one of the easiest Nigerian celebrities to work with; the highlight of the evening was when she made sure everyone shared her pop corn!
In this interview, Toke clears up assumptions concerning the motive behind her Vlog, the success of her book – how it has affected her – and more.
The name, Toke Makinwa, has been synonymous with fashion but I believe you are not just about clothes. Tell us about yourself, where you grew up and educational background.
Indeed, there is much more to Toke Makinwa than just style. Toke is a hard working media personality recently turned author.
What informed your choice of career as a teenager?
I loved talking from a very young age. I could talk up a storm. I remember each time my dad wanted to keep me quiet, as a child, he would have me sit on the floor and read a newspaper or knot the lace of his shoes. Basically, he’d find something to keep me quiet. My family thought I’d end up as a lawyer. I had a fondness for the English language so I studied English Literature. While I was in university, I met someone who heard me speak and thought I have a good radio voice. Shortly after, I was invited to do public service announcements to raise awareness for social causes such as HIV. From there, my passion for radio broadcasting began.
Your look gets a lot of attention. Has it been hard to handle?
I have a perfect team of creatives who work really hard to put my looks together; from make-up to styling to hair styling. Everyone plays a part.
How long does it take to decide on a look when you have to be out for an event?
My team (members) are professionals. They guide me based on the nature of (an) event, time of day, the appearance requirements etc. From there, they decide on make-up, hair and styling direction. Everything is a thorough process.
What’s your best off-duty look?
A pair of jeans with a t-shirt
What’s the best beauty tip you have picked up over the years?
Never go to bed with make-up on. No matter how tired I am, I always wash my face before I sleep. I also make sure I exfoliate.
If you had to be out in two minutes, what would be your quick beauty fix?
Line my eyes, blusher on the cheek, wear some liquid lipstick.
Reading your book was totally relatable and it’s sparked a lot of assumptions, both negative and positive, including being a way to find closure. How has this new experience been for you?
It’s been very interesting. ‘On Becoming’ by Toke Makinwa is a journey about self-discovery which everyone must go through at some point in life. It invokes different emotions in different people. One of the objectives, apart from it being a great read, is to empower women to speak up against the culture of shame.
Your book has become a must read. Would you be cool if they decide to make it into a movie?
Lol. I’m still getting used to the reviews. I haven’t thought as far as a movie. I guess I should be flattered. Thank you!
Going back to your vlog, is that a way to deal with some of the issues you are going through?
My vlog was never about my personal life. Some of its contents are stories people shared with me; others, situations I hear about or things women talk about in general.
How do you handle some of the negative criticism from topics you treat?
I keep going. I try not to dwell on negativity because there’s not much you can do about it; people are entitled to their opinions and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a free world, after all. Instead, I channel my energy towards my goals and that keeps me busy.
Should we expect a book, say about your journey after becoming a new Toke who has evolved?
Fingers crossed. There will be more books. What will they be about? You have to wait to see.
Do you have a bad habit?
I tend to glance through the beginning and end of an email thinking I’ve got the complete gist but end up missing some vital points. I’m not patient enough, I guess.
What’s your workout routine like?
I enjoy working out. I used to work out five times a week but, recently, decided to cut down to three times a week. My body needs rest.
What’s your escape therapy – shopping, cooking, reading…?
Are you willing to give love a try again? How soon?
I’m content. I’m currently focused on “On Becoming”. We are about to embark on a global book tour starting with Ghana, South Africa, United Kingdom and United States. I cannot wait to meet the fans and show my appreciation to all the people in the Diaspora who have made ‘On Becoming’ an instant bestseller. We are currently No. 2 on iBooks.
What is one misconception you think a lot of people have about you?
That I’m vain and all I care about is looking good. Come to think of it, they are not entirely wrong but there’s SO MUCH MORE to me than what meets the eye.
What would you want to be remembered for!?
I came, I saw, I slayed, I became and I left this world much better than I met it.