Thursday, 17 September 2009
An Exclusive interview with Tolula Adeyemi
I love Tolula Adeyemi. She is an innovator and a trendsetter. Part of a new breed of celebrated -uber stylish Afro-Saxons, Tolula is not just a beautiful 'It girl / Socialite' about town -but a force to be reckoned with. A style icon, DJ, model -and an incredible actress [she is the very embodiment of Fashion et al].... I bumped into her a while back -and gushingly [embarrassingly sooo -folks] told her, 'I loved her style and thought she was great etc [Tolula I must point out, -was great about the whole thing, -and didn't scream, 'stalker'] -and agreed to an interview [yippee]. The following is an exciting insight into the wonderful world of one of my favourite style icons ......enjoy xx
FEA: Hi Tolula, how are you?
TA: Great thanks, very busy, but busy is always good!
FEA: Thanks for the interview babes. What are you up to right now?
TA: Right now I am working on a theatre project, a comedy show, sketches/Act plays to be precise! That is taking up a lot of my time and energy right now. Which is all part of my theatre company.
FEA: Can you tell us about yourself and how you became Model/Actress/DJ etc?
TA: I was scouted aged 17 -shopping in Topshop. I was such a tomboy and wanted to be like my brothers -that modelling never once crossed my mind, even though my mother modelled during university. I was just playing basketball and wearing lumberjack shirts and Timberland boots then! But I didn't realise at the time and for quite a while what opportunities are available to models...so it took a while for me to be comfortable with the idea of being a model, plus my family is bursting with academics, so it wasn't considered a natural path. But I am so blessed to have been given this opportunity to take this journey; it's honestly been incredible so far.
Like any profession modelling/acting/etc has its ups and downs. But hopefully I was prepared for the rejection part of acting [through modelling castings] but then I think maybe not! DJing was for fun and I tried it out first with one of my best friend's Jeanette. Our first gig was unpaid in an empty pub, and then our second was a billionaire's son's 16th birthday party. I loved the unpredictability and love of the music...Acting is something I picked back up from my childhood. I was also singing, dancing, ballet, tap, performing. It was like picking up an instrument that you played as a child and learning again and with a different mindset and goals. I started taking classes -no drama school, although I auditioned and got into [drama school], but it didn't feel right to me - I took classes in the evening while I modelled.
I studied art for a year at Chelsea and almost became a fashion designer, but thank god I didn't!! As I don't think I would be able to cope with that kind of stress. My parents said I had to study something so I also took up writing as I wrote songs and poetry from a young age. I was all over the place, and then I discovered acting and its many faces! I didn't really plan all these different things I just took what came my way and held onto what I love and let go of what didn't feel right. I think it's great to be able to discover and experiment when you're very young...I think I still am!
FEA: If you had to choose only one of your chosen professions -which would it be and why?
TA: I can't be 'Jack of All Trades'. Acting because I love it and it constantly challenges me, educates me and makes me feel alive. I'm also a frustrated rock star/rapper, hence the DJing! But I have found my one true love in acting, there is so much freedom given to you, in the dedication to the craft. I mean, life is theatrical; kids are fighting in a war and getting killed, London is preparing years in advance for the Olympics, people are dying of swine flu, most people are counting their pennies, because of "The Credit Crunch" (when really we should be spending a bit more!), diamonds are being stolen by guys wearing high-tec latex masks...they are all movie themes!
FEA: Do you still DJ at Bungalow 8 –and can you tell us about your best DJing experience to date?
TA: Yes, Bungalow 8, if I’m not working on projects etc. DJing for me is like instant gratification, it's that feeling you get as a performer, but not so concentrated as it is on stage. But that's only when the crowd is dancing, which I usually try to help them do! I really enjoyed DJing at the GQ Men Of The Year Awards after party, or a random night -like when Eva Mendes, Marion Coiltard, Kate Hudson and Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas all came to my DJ gig for a girls night out, after a break in filming from new film Nine. Fergie loved my set, which was great coming from her!! I played reggae, ragga and dancehall at the end of the night and they said they didn't want to leave! That was an experience to cherish. Hopefully I’ll be working with at least one of them on a film project....
FEA: Tolula you are photographed out and about regularly -does it feel strange to be recognised by 'Joe Public'?
TA: Err, yes...I don't feel like a celebrity, I really only think about my art, my work....I forget that some people know me and wonder why that person is staring and whispering. Others just don't have a clue who the hell I’m supposed to be, it's all quite funny and confusing! I did see Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow leaving Nobu one night and couldn't believe how many paparazzi surrounded their car, they couldn't even drive anywhere! I'm not at that stage...yet!! I think I’m lucky in the sense that I’ve been in this scene for a really long time and I suddenly haven’t been catapulted over night, it's happening gradually, but you never know boom! I'm every where! Fame is crazy, but I suppose you make it what you want it to be, it can be fun, if you want! I always think about Andy Warhol's prediction - that in the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.....But no, no stalkers that I know of!
FEA: Who are you listening to right now, -and what was the last album you bought?
TA: I tend to download a lot (which isn't very supportive of recording artists!) because of DJing and I love mixtapes/CDs. Florence and The Machine, Dizzee Rascal, unknown new bands that sound good, lots of old stuff, Nina Simone, Jay Z, Arctic Monkeys, M.I.A, loving The Gossip's new album...I usually buy albums from artists who consistently have 8-10 good tracks on their albums like Kings Of Leon, Jay Z, Dizzee Rascal, The Killers, Jay Z, Pharell Williams.... I love 80s Duran Duran too! God if only Tupac and Biggie were alive! And I can forever listen to any Prince song all day for the rest of my life.
FEA: Congratulations, you are the face of Hari [a luxury sportswear label by Lainey Sheridan-Young] -it must be very exciting, -how's it going?
TA: Yes, exciting! And to have taken over from Daisy Lowe who I think is a force of nature in her own right. It's a great brand! Also signing with Next Models is exciting, under Sarah Leon and the team.
FEA: You have great style -how would you describe your look?
TA: Thank you! I have to apologise, this is not a question I’m fond of answering as it's not that simple to just answer, "yes, well I think I’m a touch of rock chic, a dash of grime dancehall queen and a huge dollop of Shoreditch burlesque 1920s!!!" Style, I think its complex. Or it's easy. Some people have it, some people don't, others don't care... I usually say Masculine/Feminine and will probably say that until the day I die!! "Yeah, also a pinch of Drama Queen!!"
FEA: Who is your style icon?
TA: Josephine Baker, Marilyn Monroe, Eartha Kitt, Grace Jones, the late Natalie Wood, Elizabeth Taylor, Tilda Swinton, Patti Smith, Jimi Hendrix, David Lynch, Michelle Obama, Edith Piaf, Edie Sedgwick, and the photographer, model, Man Ray's muse, artist - Lee Miller.....
FEA: List the shops you can't live without?
TA: Jeanette's shop on Redchurch street - one of my best friends! Selfridges, Vivienne Westwood on Conduit St, Watkins bookshop, Samuel French theatre bookshop in Fitzrovia, any shop with a printer to print scripts, James Read - Tanning Expert, Topshop, Beyond retro, all vintage shops, jewellery from Gray's Antique Market
FEA: London, Lagos or NYC?
TA: All the above! London is my base but I have family all over the world..my uncle was even in Dafar as colonel doctor during the conflict. He emailed some gruesome pictures...!
FEA: Tell us about the designer(s)on your speed dial?
TA: Hannah Marshall, Charlotte Olympia - hot shoes!, Manjit Deu, Henry Holland, Louis Vuitton, D&G, Vivienne Westwood, ANCE Jeans, Felix Rey bags, Golden jewellery (www.golden-jewellery.co.uk), New Yorker Genevieve Jones jewels and bags...MOMO [I modelled for them on the catwalk at Africa Rising at The Royal Albert Hall] -also Nigerian designer, Duro Olowu is great.
FEA: Who is hot right now?
TA: I know it's a cliche now but I have always thought this before he blew up into a movie star! ROBERT PATTINSON (If you're reading this Robby, let's go on a DATE sometime soon....OK!?!?!) is so hot right now! haha! Just like half the female population of the planet and probably more, -I think. I'm also feeling TINCHY STRYDER, -DIZZEE RASCAL will always have a place in my heart, he's brilliant! It's great to have our own British hip hop/grime artists, I love what Dizzee does, it's so original and clever. Also I'll be controversial and say Wiley next! ha! I have such a broad taste in Music, I love the Kings Of Leon and anything that Jay-Z does. I'm so into Shinga from The NOISETTES, it's so great to see your friends doing so well! I used to go to her and Paloma Faith's gigs ages ago. Shinga supported my friend Skin at Koko once and blew the place apart with that voice. Paloma is another great artist too and does the acting thing as well, which I really respect...I couldn't imagine acting and being in the music business, the music business scares me! There's more scarier money hungry people in music than film or theatre, that's for sure! I started singing in bands and solo projects in my teens and wrote songs and poetry, but did it for fun, but had loads of professional offers...but my singing background helped me to get a part as jazz singer in Last Chance Harvey, shot in 2007. Taylor Swift, I was impressed with her hip hop collaboration, also there's something about her...
Natalie Press has such a fierce talent and I loved her in her break out film, 'My Summer Of Love'. There needs to be more -new young up-coming black actresses coming out of this country...There are already established black actresses -I admire; Naomi Harris (Pirates of The Caribbean, 28 Days Later), also Thandie Newton is now an academy award winner, Sophie Okenodo -the same,...I'm searching for someone. I think it's about time there are some! Aurel Schmidt [a Canadian- New Yorker] who's a new young up coming artist - amazing illustrations (I studied art at Chelsea for a year). Florence and The Machine - that girl has an amazing voice. Also, I'm loving a new jewellery brand called Golden, designed by Stepania Pena-Nur. Model wise; Rosie Huntington-Whiteley will always be in my top 5, she's living the model dream. Chanel Iman is on fire, as well as model Sessilee Lopez.
FEA: What's the must have 'item' for A/W 09?
TA: Any shade of red lipstick by Chanel, especially Passion. Mulberry Clutch (also with a shoulder strap). Anything from Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs. Loads of chunky cocktails rings on each finger and the highest heels you've ever worn in your whole entire life.....
FEA: And finally, Tolula -a packet of crisp or a bar of chocolate?
TA: Most definitely chocolate and a cheeky bag of popcorn, a kiss and a good film = PURE JOY!
FEA: Thanks Tolula, stay beautiful.............xx