Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, a true legend of Nigerian cinema, was born on February 3, 1941, in Lagos. Her remarkable journey through life has seen her excel as an actress, journalist, television presenter, and even a cosmetologist. With over five decades of experience in the entertainment industry, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett has become an international award-winning actress, and her vibrant spirit at the age of 81 is truly inspiring.
Early Life and Education
Taiwo’s educational journey began at Mt Carmel Convent School in Lagos. She then moved on to Methodist Girls’ High School in Lagos, while her twin sister and elder sister attended Holy Child College. To further her studies, Taiwo traveled to London, where she enrolled at the Christine Shaw School of Beauty Science, earning a certificate in cosmetology. But life had other plans for her.
A Twist of Fate
While in London, Taiwo’s life took an unexpected turn. In December 1966, she found herself in the rehearsal hall of a play, Wole Soyinka’s “The Lion and the Jewel,” at the Royal Court Theatre. The director, William Gaskill, recognized her talent and invited her to participate. This impromptu performance marked the beginning of her acting career, even though it hadn’t been part of her original plan.
A Flourishing Acting Career
Taiwo’s acting journey gained momentum as she became involved with the Traverse Theatre Group for the Edinburgh Festival in 1972. She showcased her skills in numerous television and stage shows. Her dedication to her craft was unwavering, as she continued to shine in plays like Amadu Maddy’s “Life Everlasting” and Peter Nichols’ “The National Health.”
Return to Nigeria
In 1971, Taiwo made the decision to return to Nigeria, encouraged by her husband, Tom Lycett. Her mission was clear – to contribute her talents to her homeland’s development. Since then, she has graced the Nigerian entertainment scene with her presence, leaving an indelible mark.
A Multi-Talented Trailblazer
Taiwo’s talents extend beyond acting. She was the pioneer editor of Africa Woman Magazine, a platform dedicated to African women in the diaspora. Her influence also reached international platforms, as she participated in the United Nations International Women’s Year.
Personal Triumphs and Challenges
Taiwo’s life story is a testament to resilience. She became a mother at the tender age of 15, facing familial challenges, but she never allowed those obstacles to define her. Her determination to learn led her to the UK, where she worked hard and even bought a typewriter to teach herself typing. Her dedication opened doors, leading to her employment and further education.
Awards and Recognition
Throughout her illustrious career, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett has been honored with numerous awards and recognitions. She received the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) award in 2006 and was celebrated as a leader of British-African theatre in 2008. Her contributions to the entertainment industry were celebrated with the Industry Merit Award at the 2022 Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards (AMVCA).
Personal Life and Legacy
Taiwo’s personal life has seen its share of challenges and triumphs. She married twice, with her first marriage ending due to domestic violence. Her second marriage to Thomas Lycett was enduring until his passing in 1993. In 2006, she faced a horrifying incident of robbery and assault in her own home. Despite these hardships, Taiwo’s spirit remains unbroken.
Taiwo Ajai-Lycett’s life story is one of courage, determination, and resilience. From her unexpected start in acting to her numerous accomplishments as an actress, journalist, and more, she has left an indelible mark on the Nigerian entertainment industry. Her journey is a testament to the power of talent, hard work, and the unyielding spirit of a true Nigerian icon.
Connect with Taiwo Ajai-Lycett: Instagram: @taiwoajailycett Twitter: @taiwoajailycett