Hello Toyosi, thank you for having this conversation with us, tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria to easy going parents. I believe I got thrown in their mix to add some excitement. I was a handful. You would always find me where the action was happening. I went to Corona School Victoria Island, Queen’s College, Yaba, Bowen University where I graduated with a 4 point GPA in Economics before going to the University of Nottingham for a Master’s degree in Economic Development and Policy Analysis.
Post-Nottingham, I came back to Lagos and got a job in the Internal Audit department at a bank which was one of the worst experiences of my life. I, a staunch lover of joy, fun and laughter had no business being in Audit. I found it boring and excruciatingly monotonous and after a very long 3 years, I resigned and moved to New York to study Broadcast Journalism and later Producing at the New York Film Academy. It was during this period I started to write for BellaNaija as a guest contributor.
I interned at Complex at the Rockefeller Center for a few months and got a job with Sahara Reporters in the Entertainment Department where I produced and presented a show called, “The Gist with Toyosi Phillips”. I tried to join the US Army when my visa was expiring, alas it wasn’t to be. So, once again, I moved back to Lagos.
My first job back in Lagos was as a Production Manager on an NdaniTV series before I joined “ARISE News” as a producer and presenter. I then joined “Folio by CNN” as a Publishing Editor where I was responsible for creating and overseeing the production of short-form content for the Folio Platform. I eventually produced my talk show, “As Toyo Sees” which was licenced by Africa Magic. I then went on to produce shows for other people including Aunty Betty Irabor, Linda Ikeji and the Adefarasins before setting up my company, That Good Media.
That Good Media is a media solutions company specializing in Talent Management and International Strategic Partnerships amongst other media-related things.
What birthed That Good Media HQ, what was the idea behind it?
I had been consulting unknowingly since 2016 for family and friends. I noticed that people kept coming back for one idea, one advice here and there especially as it pertained to branding and media positioning. I did this for a few years till 2020, COVID year when everyone suddenly wanted digital visibility and strategic placement. It was that year that I decided to put some structure to what was already looking like a business.
How did you grow your self-confidence to this stage?
I attribute this quality to my dad. He affirmed me a lot and had all these praise chants for me growing up and these were seeds that grew into this beautiful, fruitful tree of self-confidence. My dad also showed up to defend me multiple times so I never felt like I was doing life alone. Of course, all of that was attacked when he died and I went into self-defense and self-preservation mode. For some people, this mode makes them timid and shy away from any external issues, for others it makes them ready to confront anything head on. I was in the category of “others”. However, over time, as I grew in faith and in the knowledge of GOD, I handed over the reins of my life to HIM, understanding that He would do a better job of defending me than I could myself so, my self-confidence is now rooted in knowing that I cannot fail and that GOD’s got my back.
What are the major challenges you’ve faced as a young female entrepreneur?
The major challenge for me would be closing my knowledge gaps. I understand that everything I would ever need is on the other side of knowledge and knowledge being so broad can be scary. It’s like where I start? So, when I face anything showing up as a challenge, I immediately move to the, “What do I need to know?” question because I know that the solution to the challenge is in the knowledge I don’t yet have.
As Africans, we don’t fully appreciate the benefits of female media companies that encompass us, what’s your take on that?
Hmm… I’m not sure I share this same perspective. There are a lot of women leading the conversations in media particularly in Film and TV and I believe that they are being appreciated. I’m inspired by many of the major players in the space. People like Aunty Mo (Abudu), Busola Tejumola, Chioma Ude, Ijeoma Onah, Aunty Bolanle Austen-Peters. We also have Kemi Adetiba, Zulu Oyibo of Inkblot, Aunty Biodun Stephen, Jade Osiberu, Linda Ikeji, Uche Pedro, Aunty Betty Irabor, Stephanie Busari, Tosin Ajibade of Olori Supergal… I mean the list goes on. These women either own or spearhead companies that have made tremendous impact in the media and entertainment space. Can they get more support? Absolutely but you could say that for just about any company.
What was your drive when you started out in this field?
My drive was telling our stories as authentically and as globally relatabl as I could. It’s one thing to have your nuances as a people, it’s another to relay those nuances in a way that the rest of the world can appreciate and look forward to more of it. So I started off wanting our stories told and understood.
Congratulations on your partnership with Essence, particularly Essence Film Festival, how do you feel about this?
Essence is a 55-year-old brand that continues to stand the test of time. I don’t know that I have the right words to describe exactly how I feel about being in partnership with such a brand. Last year alone, there were half a million people daily at the convention center where Essence Fest holds and over 40 billion digital impressions… 40 billio!. A partnership to promote Nollywood on such a platform is… wild!
While I see the value that a Nollywood presence brings to a stage like Essence, I’m still excited that it’s finally happening. This is a beautiful opportunity for Nollywood to connect with her global counterparts particularly Hollywood.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
I see myself in the middle of more facilitations for this industry that is now so dear to my heart, Nollywood. Our movies and media content are our biggest exports, and my desire is to see commensurate returns for the players in the industry, from the writers to directors, to cinematographers, to the actors and even the distributors. I want to see a well-paid, overtly lucrative industry over time and in the next 5 years I’ll be facilitating strategic partnerships to make that happen.
So many young individuals look up to you, what’s your advice to them?
First and foremost, settle any identity issues you have first before seeking platforms or pedestals because once you’re high up, there’ll be varying opinions of who you are, who you should be and what agenda you should push and If you’re not rooted in the knowledge of who you really are and what you are here (on earth) to do, chances of suffering a crippling, excruciatingly painful identity crisis are high.
So, find yourself first and there’s no better place to search than within the One who made you.