I am not a sex symbol-Shalewa of Tinsel


Tomi Odunsi is an actress in MNET’s TV series, Tinsel. She speaks with JOAN OMIONAWELE about her musical career, her life as an actress and other issues.

You act and sing. Which one works better for you?
For me, I would say both work hand in hand. It’s about being grounded fully in the arts.

Who exactly is Tomi Odunsi?
I am a singer, songwriter and an actress. I am also versatile and talented.

‘Shalewa’ in Tinsel is a rustic and unrefined girl, but you as a person are so urbane and sophisticated.  How come you fit so well into that character?
There are lots of differences between us. ‘Shalewa’ is still going through different stages of her life, though she is improving on herself everyday as the series unfolds.

She is well grounded in her cultural values. Tomi Odunsi is more exposed than ‘Shalewa’ is.

You are planning to move from TV series to the big screen, with Omawumi and Beverly Naya…
Yes, that’s true. I think the move is only a natural thing, though it’s a challenge to us TV series actors. But in Nigeria, the people in the movie industry are very receptive. This is what I love about the movie industry.

You are an ambassador with NASCOM, a Federal Government initiative to improve sports. What is that about?
NASCOM was founded to discover raw talents. It is also an opportunity for youth development in the area of sports and the Federal Government is ready to give students the platform to grow and discover themselves. I was appointed to encourage young people to go out and discover themselves. In that process, they can discover their potential.

What’s your educational background?
I had my primary education at the Providence Primary School, Lagos; attended Odofa Secondary School and I’m a graduate of Linguistics from the University of Lagos.

When you were chosen to act ‘Shalewa’ for Tinsel, were you not bothered, being a village girl’s role?
I wasn’t bothered because I took it as a challenge. As of the time I got the role, everyone had to be able to speak English to be fit for one role or the other, and that made me know that one can be a good actress without being able to speak good English. It was more of an opportunity to expand my scope as an actress.

What were you doing before you became an actress?
I was rounding off in my final year in school. I was also signed in to a record label, doing my own thing.

What benefits has Tinsel brought to you?
It has opened a lot of doors. It has given me a good platform to perform on the field.

Now that you are popular, what has changed about you?
There are things I have had to stop. (Being a star) more people now know you; so, you have to be careful because more people are looking up to you. You mentor people without even knowing it. I now have to watch what I do or say. It’s funny, but it’s harder.

Before you became an actress, you weren’t this elaborate about some of your physical assets. Now you have loosened up and in your most recent photo shoot, you bared some skin. Are you gradually becoming a sex symbol or it’s just a gimmick to fit into Nollywood?
No, it isn’t. I am very expressive and open to challenges. I am also very fashionable and there are some things I don’t really see as a problem. It’s all about being artistic.

So you don’t see baring your skin as a problem?
I don’t bare my skin. I don’t know where you got that impression from.

But there was this picture all over the Internet where you wore a shirt and exposed your bra and also wore bum shorts….
That was a photo shoot! The intent was not to bare my skin; it was more of an artistic work. It’s also part of my job to model actually. I am not a sex symbol.

What are your favourite relaxation spots in Lagos?
I like to relax at the pool side somewhere at the beach in the morning when there are no people around. I am very simple.

MI and Ice Prince are also ambassadors of NASCOM. Is there a possible collaboration cooking up?   
Most definitely. I am working on my album. By next year, it will be out.

As you are gradually climbing the fame ladder, how do you hope to cope with pride, which is known be most celebrities’ Achilles heel?
I don’t believe in being proud; I just believe in doing my job. I don’t see any point in being proud, when I was not the one who created myself. I am really appreciative when people love and admire what I do.


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