Taiwo Ajai-Lycett is a renowned Nigerian actress, journalist, television presenter, and cosmetologist who has made a significant impact on the entertainment industry. With over 50 years of experience, she remains active, vibrant, and passionate about life, engaging in activities like cooking, exercising, and maintaining her household.
This blog post will take you through the remarkable life and career of this extraordinary matron of the arts, highlighting her achievements, struggles, and the indomitable spirit that has made her an icon.
Early Life and Education:
Born on February 3, 1941, in Lagos, Nigeria, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett grew up as the first of a set of twin girls. Her educational journey began at Mt Carmel Convent School before continuing at Methodist Girls’ High School in Lagos.
Although her family initially ignored her due to becoming a mother at the age of 15, Taiwo’s determination to pursue an education led her to enroll in evening classes. In 1959, she seized the opportunity to travel to the United Kingdom, where she studied business and administration and obtained a certificate in cosmetology from the Christine Shaw School of Beauty Science in London.
Taiwo Ajai-Lycett’s acting career began unexpectedly when she was asked to participate in a rehearsal of Wole Soyinka’s play, “The Lion and the Jewel,” at the Royal Court Theatre in London in December 1966. Impressed by her talent, the director, William Gaskill, recognized her potential and encouraged her to pursue acting further. This marked the turning point in her life, as she realized her passion for the craft and decided to embark on a career in acting.
Acting Career and Achievements:
In 1972, Taiwo left her corporate job and joined the Traverse Theatre Group for the Edinburgh Festival. Subsequently, she took part in numerous television and stage shows, including performances in London and other parts of the United Kingdom. Heeding her husband’s advice to return to Nigeria, she came back in 1971, where she made a significant impact in the Nigerian film industry. Her notable works include appearances in the award-winning Nigerian soap opera, “Tinsel,” and the action thriller film, “Oloibiri” (2016), alongside the late legendary actor Olu Jacobs and Richard Mofe Damijo (RMD).
Apart from her acting prowess, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett also played a vital role in journalism. She became the first editor of Africa Woman Magazine, a publication dedicated to African women in the diaspora. As editor, she participated in the United Nations International Women’s Year, contributing to the empowerment and visibility of African women.
Awards and Honors:
Taiwo Ajai-Lycett’s contributions to the arts have earned her prestigious awards and honors. In 2006, she was decorated as an Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON), a national recognition bestowed upon her by the former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Additionally, she was honored as a leader of British-African theatre at an All-Star Gala in 2008, marking the 10th anniversary of Tiata Fahodzi. In 2022, she received The Industry Merit Award at the Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards (AMVCA), further cementing her status as a legendary actress.
Personal Life and Challenges:
Despite facing challenges, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett’s resilience and determination have fueled her success. She first became a mother at a young age, causing her family to initially ignore her. However, her unwavering dedication to education allowed her to overcome these obstacles.
In her personal life, she experienced a failed marriage due to domestic violence before finding love again with Thomas Lycett, whom she married in 1968. Sadly, her husband passed away in 1993. In 2006, at the age of 65, she endured a traumatic incident when she was robbed and raped in her home in Egbe.
Taiwo Ajai-Lycett’s journey is a testament to the power of resilience, passion, and self-belief. From her humble beginnings to becoming a legendary actress, she has inspired generations with her talent and unwavering spirit. Despite the challenges she has faced, she continues to shine as an icon in the entertainment industry. As she celebrates her 81st birthday, her contributions to Nigerian and African arts will forever be cherished.
Follow Taiwo Ajai-Lycett’s inspiring journey and stay connected with her on Instagram (@taiwoajailycett) and Twitter (@taiwoajailycett).