Veteran Nigerian actor, writer, journalist, director, presenter, producer, educationist, television presenter, cosmetologist, and communication consultant Taiwo Ajai-Lycett was born on 3 February 1941. She was the founding editor of Africa Woman magazine in the 1970s and is famous as a feminist and independent woman.
Early Life and Education
Taiwo was born on February 3, 1941, as a set of twin girls to Mr and Mrs Ajai in Lagos State, in the Western Region of colonial Nigeria, and her father is of Awori heritage, in the Ojo local government area of Lagos State.
Her primary education was at Mt. Carmel Convent School in Lagos, and her secondary education was at Methodist Girls’ High School in Lagos. To further her schooling and pursue a profession in business and administration, she moved to London. She obtained a cosmetology certificate while attending the Christine Shaw School of Beauty Science in London. She also attended Hendon College of Technology where she graduated in 1969 with a Higher National Diploma in Business Studies.
When she was a student, she worked as a waiter at Lyons Tea Shop before going on to the Post Office and finally advertising. She started off as a personal secretary for the Post Office in 1962 before moving up to a senior secretary post in Lord Hall’s office. She eventually made the switch to advertising and worked in Young and Rubicam’s personnel department before becoming the personal assistant to the managing partner of the accountancy firm Gresham Broad and Co.
Her parents and other family members turned their backs on her after she had her first child at the age of 15. She nonetheless enrolled in a night class. In 1959, she was granted the opportunity to travel to the UK courtesy to her friend David Akinduro, whom she later married. However, domestic abuse ultimately led to the breakdown of the marriage. After divorcing Akinduro, she got married to Thomas Lycett, and they enjoyed a happy marriage. But in 2006, when she was 65 years old, she was raped and assaulted in her Egbe home. On February 3, 2021, she turned 80, and people all across the world sent her birthday greetings.
In December 1966 at London’s Royal Court Theatre, she made her acting debut in Wole Soyinka’s two-act comedy The Lion and the Jewel, which was directed by William Gaskill. Gaskill pushed her to join when she was in the rehearsal space for the play; her acting debut was not planned. After receiving encouragement for her performance and invitations from producers that followed, she decided to pursue acting professionally. The Guildhall School of Music and Drama accepted her enrollment.
She quit her corporate career and joined the Traverse Theatre Group in 1972 to attend the Edinburgh Festival. Later, she made several stage and television appearances. In 1973, she acted in “Life Everlasting” by Amadu Maddy at the Africa Centre in London. Later that same year, she made an appearance in “The National Health” by Peter Nichols at the Festival of British Theatre. She took the lead role in Yemi Ajibade’s “Parcel Post” at the Royal Court Theatre in 1976. Along with the actor Louis Mahoney and the writer Mike Phillips, she worked as the director of the Black Theatre Workshop in London.
She returned to Nigeria in 1971. She has acted in a number of well-known Nigerian films, including the renowned soap opera Tinsel. Ajai-Lycett has played a significant role in other notable works, such as the Nigerian movie Oloibiri. In addition to Curtis Graham, Rogers Ofime, and Ajai-Lycett, Olu Jacobs, and Richard Mofe Damijo appeared in the 2016 action film Oloibiri. The film describes how government agencies and oil companies utilised the recently discovered oil in the historic town of Oloibiri. Rogers Ofime and Curtis Graham were in charge of its production and direction.
In 1975, Ajai-Lycett received a request to collaborate with Raph Uwechue’s Africa Magazine. She later achieved fame as the founding editor of Africa Woman Magazine, a magazine for women from Africa who are expatriates. As an editor, she took part in the UN’s International Women’s Year.
She moved to the UK in 1959 as a result of an invitation from a friend who was also friends with David Akinduro, the father of her first child. After some time, she left the marriage because of domestic abuse. She eventually wed Thomas Aldridge Lycett, a Shell marketing communications professional whom she had met at a friend’s party. 25 years of marriage later, he passed away in 1993.
- Elesin Oba: The King’s Horseman
- Madam President
- Dazzling Mirage
- King of Boys: The Return of the King
- Crown Court
- Comedy Playhouse
- Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em
- Armchair 30
- Black and Blue
- 5TH NAFCA: African Oscar
|1966||The Lion and the Jewel||Village girl||debut play was written by Wole Soyinka|
|1971||Murderous Angels||Patrice Lumumba’s wife||Dublin Theatre Festival, 1971|
|1973||The Refusal||Oona||Playroom Lunchtime Theatre|
|1974||The National Health||a play directed by Peter Nichols|
|1974||The Black & White Minstrels||Performer||Hampstead Theatre Club|
|1972||Edinburgh Festival Fringe||Performer||Traverse Theatre play: Buddy Caravaggio and Replique.|
|1976||Parcel Post||Tola Folagunle|
Awards and Honours
- A special recognition award at the Eko Film and TV Awards.
- A life achievement award at the Eko Film and TV Awards
- She was honoured with an OON (Officer of the Order of the Niger) in 2006 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
- In February 2008, at an All-Star Gala held at Theatre Royal Stratford East on the 10th anniversary of Tiata Fahodzi, she was honoured as a leader of British-African theatre, alongside Dotun Adebayo and Yemi Ajibade.
- She is also a Fellow of the Society of Nigerian Theatre Artists (SONTA).
- Fellow of the University of the Third Age. (FUTA).
- She was honoured with The Industry Merit Award at the 2022 Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards (AMVCA) on the 14th of May 2022.
Taiwo Ajai-Lycett Net Worth
She has an estimated net worth of $5 million.