Taiwo Ajai-Lycett

Taiwo Ajai-Lycett

A Trailblazing Nigerian Actress, Journalist, and Cosmetologist

03 February 1941

Early Life and Education

Taiwo Ajai-Lycett was born on February 3rd, 1941, in Lagos, Nigeria. Hailing from the Awori heritage, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett began her educational journey at Mt Carmel Convent School in Lagos. She then continued her studies at Methodist Girls' High School, also in Lagos. Determined to pursue further education, she traveled to London, United Kingdom, where she studied business and administration. During her time in London, she attended the Christine Shaw School of Beauty Science, where she earned a certificate in cosmetology. Additionally, she obtained a Higher National Diploma in Business Studies from Hendon College of Technology in 1969.

11 July 1975

Career in Journalism and Media

Ajai-Lycett's career in journalism took off in 1975 when she joined the staff of Africa Magazine, published by Raph Uwechue. Later, she became the pioneer editor of Africa Woman magazine, a publication dedicated to African women in the diaspora. As the editor, she actively participated in the United Nations International Women's Year, furthering the cause of women's empowerment.

11 July 2023

Acting Journey and Notable Works

While Ajai-Lycett had always possessed a natural flair for performing, her acting career began unexpectedly. In December 1966, she found herself in the rehearsal hall of Wole Soyinka's play, "The Lion and the Jewel," at the Royal Court Theatre in London. Director William Gaskill noticed her talent and invited her to participate in the production. Encouraged by her performance and subsequent invitations from producers, she made the decision to pursue acting seriously. She enrolled at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama to hone her skills.

In 1972, Ajai-Lycett left her corporate career behind and joined the Traverse Theatre Group for the Edinburgh Festival. She went on to star in numerous television and stage shows, showcasing her versatility and talent. Notable performances include her role in Amadu Maddy's play "Life Everlasting" at the Africa Centre, London, and Peter Nichols' "The National Health" during the Festival of British Theatre. In 1976, she captivated audiences with her lead role in Yemi Ajibade's "Parcel Post" at the Royal Court Theatre. She also co-founded the Black Theatre Workshop in London alongside actor Louis Mahoney and writer Mike Phillips.

Ajai-Lycett returned to Nigeria in 1971, where she continued to make significant contributions to the Nigerian film industry. Her appearances in notable Nigerian films include the award-winning soap opera "Tinsel" and the critically acclaimed movie "Oloibiri." Directed by Curtis Graham, "Oloibiri" explores the exploitation of newly discovered oil in the historic town of Oloibiri and features Ajai-Lycett alongside renowned actors Olu Jacobs and Richard Mofe Damijo.

12 July 2023

Personal Life and Recognitions

In her personal life, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett was married to Thomas Aldridge Lycett, a Shell marketing communication executive. Sadly, he passed away in 1993, leaving behind a legacy of love and support.

Ajai-Lycett's remarkable contributions have not gone unnoticed. In 2006, she was honored with the national award of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, then the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In February 2008, she was recognized as a leader of British-African theatre at an All-Star Gala held at Theatre Royal Stratford East, alongside Dotun Adebayo and Yemi Ajibade. She is also a distinguished Fellow of the Society of Nigerian Theatre Artists (SONTA).

Taiwo Ajai-Lycett's journey has been marked by resilience, talent, and a commitment to excellence. As an actress, journalist, and advocate for women's empowerment, she has left an indelible mark on the Nigerian and international arts and media landscape. Her contributions continue to inspire and pave the way for future generations of performers and change-makers.

13 July 2023

Selected Filmography and Legacy

In addition to her extensive stage career, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett has made notable appearances in various film and television productions, leaving a lasting impact on the entertainment industry. Here are some highlights from her impressive filmography:

  1. "Some Mothers Do Ave 'Em" (Season 2, Episode 5 - Father's Clinic): Ajai-Lycett showcased her talent in this beloved British sitcom, adding her unique charm to the show.
  2. "Tinsel" (TV series): She gained widespread recognition for her role in this award-winning Nigerian soap opera, captivating audiences with her impeccable acting skills.
  3. "Dazzling Mirage" (2014): Ajai-Lycett's performance in this film directed by Tunde Kelani garnered critical acclaim. Her portrayal of a woman dealing with sickle cell anemia showcased her ability to bring complex characters to life.
  4. "The Inheritors": This project allowed Ajai-Lycett to showcase her versatility as an actress, further solidifying her reputation as a formidable presence in the Nigerian film industry.

13 July 2023

Recognitions and Awards

In 2006, she was bestowed with the national award of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) by President Olusegun Obasanjo, a testament to her significant impact on Nigerian society.

In 2008, at the All-Star Gala held at Theatre Royal Stratford East, Ajai-Lycett was honored as a leader of British-African theater alongside other distinguished personalities, Dotun Adebayo and Yemi Ajibade. This recognition highlighted her pivotal role in promoting and advancing African theater in the United Kingdom.

Furthermore, as a Fellow of the Society of Nigerian Theatre Artists (SONTA), Ajai-Lycett continues to be a respected figure within the theater community. Her contributions to the industry have not only earned her acclaim but also inspired aspiring artists to pursue their passion and make a meaningful impact on the cultural landscape.

14 July 2023

Legacy and Inspiration

Taiwo Ajai-Lycett's career and advocacy have left an indelible mark on Nigerian and international theater, film, and journalism. She serves as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring actors and journalists, demonstrating that talent, determination, and a commitment to social change can lead to a successful and fulfilling career.

Through her work, Ajai-Lycett has challenged societal norms and championed the empowerment of women, particularly African women, both on and off the stage. Her dedication to amplifying marginalized voices and her contributions to the development of African theater have paved the way for a more inclusive and diverse industry.

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