He’s no stranger to Nollywood. He’s been at it for 12 years now, and his sweet and loving sister, Dakore Egbuson-Akande, has been a significant influence and motivation for how far he’s come.
From playing the role of Tobi on MTV’s “Shuga” to his role as Mohammed on Ndani TV’s “Skinny Girl in Transit,” every role Timini Egbuson has played has been a smash hit. It’s no surprise that he won the 2019 Future Awards Africa prize for acting, the best actor in a drama for his role in “Elevator Baby” at the 2020 AMVCA, and now he’s been nominated for best actor in a comedy and a drama at this year’s edition.
BellaNaija’s Damilola caught up with the actor and influencer to chat about everything from how he started in the industry to his major accomplishments and how he came up with the #WatchTimini.
Congrats on your AMVCA nominations for “Introducing the Kujus” and “Ponzi”. How does this make you feel?
It makes me feel really happy. I’ve put in a lot of work over the years, so it’s nice to be recognized. Coming from a time when I barely got invites to the AMVCA, to a time where I won the most important award of the year in the last season, and now being nominated for two categories; best actor in a comedy and best actor in a drama, it’s just a nice way for me to feel like I’m definitely where I belong and a nice way to shut the haters up as well.
There’s so much more beneath the Timini we see through our screens. Walk me through your childhood, your growing up, and what part of your childhood moulded you into the incredible actor you are today.
Growing up, we went through a lot of different phases as a family. It wasn’t all rosy, but just being able to live these different lives, adapting to different types of lifestyles, from Gbagada and holidays every season to Surulere and public transport, I had that opportunity to just live different lives. I’d already understood what it meant to be a different person. I went ahead to study psychology at the university, which also gave me a different perspective as to how people reason and how different human beings have different things about themselves, their minds, and how they work. And to top it all off, I was an assistant to my sister, who was also in Nollywood.
When I looked at all the different career paths that I could take, I felt like acting was just the one that came naturally to me. I’ve been doing it for 12 years and it still feels like I haven’t worked a day in my life because I enjoy doing it. It’s just me having fun. I see a script that excites me and I want to be in it. It’s not about how much I’m making, it’s not about where the script is going to go, because sometimes before you even choose production, you have no idea how far they’ll fly.
It’s quite interesting to know you’ve been in this Nollywood game for a good 12 years. How would you describe your journey?
My journey has been a rollercoaster. Surprisingly, it’s also been fantastic. I’ve been relevant for the 12 years that I’ve been an actor. I started off being part of the biggest soap opera, “Tinsel,” even if that one was a waka pass, but in that same year, I starred in MTV’s “Shuga,” which is one of the biggest series out of Africa ever in terms of viewership, the people behind it and where it’s gone. It brought stars like Lupita Nyong’o, Timini, and Ms DSF, and I’ve been in every season since I joined. I’m the only cast actor that has been in every season since it started.
Apart from that, I’ve been in web series, movies, and every type of viewing platform that has come out of Africa. I’ve been in one or two of the most relevant shows that have come out of that, you know? So I’ve been a working actor. I know God has been faithful and his grace has been upon me, and I know I can only get better. And that’s what makes me excited. I feel like I’m just barely scratching the surface of where I’m supposed to be.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part for me is the excitement, the joy that you see on people’s faces when they appreciate your work when they connect with the character that you’ve played when they learn from the stuff that you’ve done, and you still find a way to entertain them at the same time. It’s that joy. It’s not the fame, or the money, or the recognition, or anything. It’s the genuine excitement that you see in strangers sometimes.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Winning the AMVCA and having my sister give it to me. That’s top tier. Dakore is someone that I’ve always looked up to, that’s the only person I’ve necessarily cared about, and seeing her there, so proud of me, giving me that award, means so much to me. Hopefully this time, she’ll be the one that gives me the award or my mum.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you on set?
I’ve been de-cast before. A certain director on set de-cast me because I couldn’t play the guitar for my role for three hours or two hours. It was quite embarrassing.
And the most exciting?
Anybody that has worked with me understands that I come with a whole bag of excitement and energy. Every set is special and different. What I’ll say is that I enjoy making movies with my friends. People like Efe Irele: we just finished “Hey You!” and it’s about to come out. Sophia Alakija and I were featured in a movie that did extremely well at the cinema, “Dinner at My Place.” For me, working with my friends that I’ve known before is just so exciting. Look at us, the lead characters. We’re all killing it. It just gives me a certain kind of joy that I cannot explain.
One role or character you will always say “NO” to.
To be fair, there’s no character I’ll say no to. I’m very open. I believe that my body is a canvas, and I basically can be painted anyhow, as long as it’s moving forward, telling an important story, and it’ll be done properly.
How did you come up with the hashtag # WatchTimini?
I posted it on my story. I’ve been taking social media seriously for a long time before it was cool or profitable. I remember one time I put it up and I was like, “Everybody has a hashtag now. What hashtag?” It was weird. For an actor, I don’t think people were doing that at that time. So I put on my story and people were just bringing in different ideas. Then my good friend just said, “Watch Timini.” And it made sense to me, because, why not? I feel like that was me also, just prophesying into my life. It’s hard for you to watch anything and not see me. There’s always something to watch, and that’s something that I’ve lived by.
You star in so many upcoming films, and one I particularly love is “TOOT”, Dr SID’s directorial debut. Tell me a bit about the role you play and what fans should look forward to?
My fans and my family should expect a phenomenal performance. I play a brother. My brother is trying to get married, and I’m trying to get married, but my older brother isn’t married yet. My mom says I have to wait until he gets married. I have to follow other things. It was nice working with Dr SID. He’s someone that I admire because of his drive. He knows his onions; he went to film school. He didn’t just go through film school; the school passed through him because he has so much knowledge. I believe that we made a beautiful movie, and I have, 11 movies now that I’m expecting to come out. I’m excited about all of them equally. I’m also working on my production.
We hear stories of how some celebrities wish they weren’t famous and miss their normal lives; the trolling; the pressure to be and do more. Did you, for a moment or anytime in your life, wish you were not a famous person?
No, I’ve never had that thought cross my mind. Before I became an actor, I’d always been famous, maybe in smaller circles, from school, and going to parties. I’ve always been that guy. There’s nothing about fame that is new to me. I’ve always gotten into trouble for doing stupid things. I’ve always had people that love me completely or just hate me with their whole hearts. I’ve always been that guy. I don’t see myself doing anything else, and I don’t take it as a problem. That’s why I don’t necessarily move like a celebrity. It’s not anything out of the ordinary.
How do you deal with social media trolls, gossip and rumours?
For me, it’s more like a nudge in the right direction. These people are strangers to me; I have no idea who they are, and yet they’re having conversations about me. Wow. That is so fantastic. You know, it’s just like, “Oh, you guys are my fans.” I don’t care about it. I have a lot of strength and courage to look the other way like my sister. She taught me to. Those are one of the things that come with it, and I understood that. If nobody talks about you, then you are a nobody. That’s basically what I go by. I know I’m going to get bigger. I know that the talks are not going to stop, and I know that that’s what comes with being on top.
Honestly, I love the way you speak so highly of your sister.
Yeah, I love her with all my heart. She’s my baby. I can’t wait to spoil her, like spoil her silly, because she’s such a huge part of my success story. She’s been there for me countless times. I don’t think that one lifetime is enough for me to possibly repay all the good that she’s done. It’s one thing to be somebody’s sister, but she’s been there. I will always talk about her.
What’s that one piece of advice she gave you that has always stuck with you?
She taught me to resist the urge to copy, resist the urge to be anybody but myself. Because you can’t keep that up for too long. When you’re yourself, people learn to adjust, and they will have no choice but to acknowledge you. If you look at her trajectory as a performer and as an actor, she’s been relevant all these years in the industry. She’s been in the industry for maybe 25 years now, and if you look at it, she has the biggest endorsements. She’s still in the biggest movies, and that’s because she’s been herself. So, one way or another, these brands found a way to adjust and find her where she’s standing, and that’s kind of like what I’m going to be 50 or 60, still the baddest actor in Africa, still Bad Boy T. God keep me alive.
When you are not working or acting, what do you do with your days off?
What I should ask you now is when am I not working? I’m always working. I still like to find time to go to the club, listen to good music, drink a bottle or two, and connect with my friends, because that’s where I get a lot of inspiration.