Tolulope Oniru popularly known as Toolz is a radio personality, talk show host, and presenter. She is best known for hosting The Midday Show on The Beat 99.9 FM. Born in London, she had her primary education at Talbot House preparatory school in Bournemouth, UK, and secondary education in Nigeria before relocating to study at the City of Westminster College. She also has a degree in Business and Mass communication from London Metropolitan University. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, she shares her determination and drives for success as well as her fashion and style.
Briefly tell us about your journey into radio broadcasting?
BEFORE I moved back to Nigeria I was working with MTV in London, someone told me about a new radio station which is BeatFM starting up and they needed presenters and I should go audition and so the rest is history. I have always been passionate about music, even before I moved back to Nigeria.
My job at MTV further helped me develop my passion for music and this gave me the career I am now passionate about. I remember that growing up there was always music around; my mum and dad played music and I also loved all the different genres of music. While working at MTV I also got to listen to genres of music that I probably wouldn’t have picked myself and that further increased my passion for music.
How did you find transitioning between continents?
I worked behind the scenes in the UK, so coming to Nigeria and working as a presenter was a massive change because I went from being behind the scenes to basically being the one in front of the microphone or camera in certain cases. It was a huge change because I have always been a bit of a shy person who doesn’t like to be the centre of attention, I just had to learn to put my shyness away and get on with the job.
With over a decade of experience practice in Nigeria, how would you access your growth?
There is always something to learn and so I think I have done quite well. I was able to come to Nigeria and start working in an industry I hadn’t worked in before and I am grateful that I have been able to gather some success and also make a name for myself. Having done presenting for many years now, I am happy that I am also the group Programmes Director of BeatFM and that means I am in charge of its four different stations and I don’t believe that there is another woman in Nigeria who has that position.
You recently turned a year older, how does this make you feel?
I am very grateful, the last year has been very interesting, having a baby in the middle of a pandemic and surviving COVID-19. I am very grateful because there are people who are very close to me and caught COVID and didn’t make it.
What does fashion mean to you?
Is a form of expression for me and showing people your personality. It is your signature
What is your style?
My style has evolved over time but the core thing about my style is I love looking like a woman. I love clothes that show off my curves. I love very feminine pieces. I am trying to love colours a bit more because I was always wearing a lot of blacks.
Who is your favourite designer?
I have a few; in Nigeria, I love Lanre Da Silva, Ejiro Amos Tafiri, Banke Kuku; I love the pieces that she makes. Outside the country, there’s Gucci, West Wood is another I find very interesting. Channel too, I love the fact that even after many decades they always have some timeless classic pieces, which never go out of fashion.
What is your favourite outfit?
Any outfit that is easy to wear because being a mum with two kids, I don’t have all the time like I used to, so with my handbag, cute shoes, hairdo and a bit of makeup, I am good to go.
What’s your favourite local dish?
I love edikaikong soup, I can have that every day, even though it’s not from my tribe, I also like Nkwobi.
What has motherhood taught you?
It has taught me that you can actually love human beings more than you love yourself. It taught me that there are different levels to love and it taught me to learn how to sacrifice and put them first.
What advice do you have for upcoming OAPs?
Especially for those who are just coming into the industry, I say this to those who come to me – don’t think that you cannot do anything yourself. The internet has given us a way to reach so many people, so I encourage them to do something themselves. Anytime we are hiring people I am always looking out for people that have taken their own initiative to start off something for themselves, like a podcast, even if it is ten people listening, that is more creative for me when hiring and I am more likely to pick such person than another who says I can talk and people say I have a nice voice. Having a nice voice is good, but doesn’t necessarily mean having an accent and also may not be interesting to listen to. So all of this matter, but I always look for someone who has stepped out of the box and done something themselves; I always find that admirable.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Passionate, tenacious and loyal
What is your life mantra?
With God anything is possible; I don’t think my journey in this industry had anything to do with me doing something special, it was God. Secondly, anything worth having requires hard work; if you are prepared to work hard and keep at it, you can get anywhere.