Taiwo Ajai-Lycett

Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, OON (3 February 1941) is a Nigerian actress, journalist, television presenter, and cosmetologist.[1][2]

Taiwo Ajai Lycett
TAL Photo.jpg
Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, OON
Born(1941-02-03)3 February 1941
CitizenshipNigerian (1941 – present)
Occupationfilm actress

Lycett is a feminist and was the first editor of Africa Woman magazine in the 1970s.[3]

Early life and educationEdit

Lycett was born on 3 February 1941 in Lagos, Western Region of Colonial Nigeria,[4] her father was of Awori heritage.[5] She was educated at Mt Carmel Convent School, Lagos,[5] before proceeding to Methodist Girls' High School, Lagos.

To further her studies, she traveled to London to study business and administration. In London, she took courses at Christine Shaw School of Beauty Science in London, where she received a certificate in cosmetology.[6] She also attended Hendon College of Technology, where she obtained a Higher National Diploma in Business Studies in 1969.[7] While studying, she worked as a waitress[4] at Lyons Tea Shop, then moved to the Post Office and later advertising. In the Post Office, she started as a personal secretary in 1962 and later worked as a senior secretary in the office of Lord Hall.[8]

She moved to advertising and was in the personnel department of advertising firm, Young and Rubicam.[5] She then worked as a personal assistant to the managing partner of Gresham Broad and Co, an accounting firm.

Acting careerEdit

Her acting debut was in December 1966 in Wole Soyinka's The Lion and the Jewel, a two-act comedy directed by William Gaskill at the Royal Court Theatre in London.[5] Her acting debut was not planned, she was in the rehearsal hall of the play when she was asked by Gaskill to be a participant. After the encouragement she received following her performance and the invitations from producers that followed,[5] she decided to take a career in acting seriously.[5] She enrolled at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

In 1972, she left her corporate career and joined the Traverse Theatre Group for the Edinburgh Festival. She was later in a string of television and stage shows. In 1973, she was in Amadu Maddy's play Life Everlasting at the Africa Centre, London, and later in the year, she was in Peter Nichols' The National Health during the Festival of British Theatre.[9] In 1976, she played the lead role in Yemi Ajibade's Parcel Post at the Royal Court Theatre. Together with the actor Louis Mahoney and the writer Mike Phillips, she was a director with the Black Theatre Workshop in London.[10]

She returned to Nigeria in 1971. She has featured in several notable Nigerian films, including Tinsel, the award-winning Nigerian soap opera.[11] Taiwo-Ajai also featured in other notable works like the Nigerian movie Oloibiri. Oloibiri is a 2016 Nigerian action thriller film directed by Curtis Graham, produced by Rogers Ofime and starred, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, Olu Jacobs,and Richard Mofe Damijo. The film tells a story on how government agencies, along with oil companies exploited the newly discovered oil in the historic town of Oloibiri.

Produced by: Rogers Ofime

Directed by: Curtis Graham

Journalism careerEdit

In 1975, Ajai was invited to join the staff of Africa Magazine published by Ralph Uwechue. Later, she became the pioneer editor of Africa Woman magazine, a women's magazine for Africans in the diaspora. As editor, she was a participant at the United Nations International Women's Year.

Awards and honoursEdit

On 1 October 2006 she received a national award of Officer of the Order of the Niger, decorated by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.[4][12][13] 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.[14]

She is a Fellow of the Society of Nigerian Theatre Artists (SONTA).[15]


Stage (selected)Edit

Year Show Role Notes
1966 The Lion and the Jewel Village girl debut play written by Wole Soyinka
1971 Murderous Angels Patrice Lumumba's wife Dublin Theatre Festival, 1971
1973 The Refusal Oona Playroom Lunchtime Theatre
1973 Life Everlasting
1974 The National Health play directed by Peter Nichols
1974 The Black & White Minstrels Performer Hampstead Theatre Club
1972 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Performer Traverse Theatre plays: Buddy Caravaggio and Replique.
1976 Parcel Post Tola Folagunle

Selected filmographyEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Taiwo Ajai-Lycett (10 January 2015). "The power of you". Daily Independent (Nigeria). Archived from the original on 6 February 2015. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  2. ^ Bernth Lindfors (2003). Black African Literature in English, 1997-1999. Hans Zell. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  3. ^ "African women stole the show" (17 January 1976). New York Amsterdam News (1962–1993) Retrieved from Proquest.
  4. ^ a b c Hazeez Balogun. "I performed on stage the day I got married". Daily Independent (Nigeria). Archived from the original on 9 February 2014. Retrieved 8 February 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Ajai-Lycett, Taiwo (April 1978). "Taiwo Ajai this time around". Happy Home magazine. Lagos.
  6. ^ Morenike Taire (11 May 2012). "Merit Always Wins - Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett - Vanguard News". Archived from the original on 2012-05-11. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  7. ^ Japhet Alakan (27 March 2014). "Ajai-Lycett, Sotimirin explore theatrical notion of belonging". Vanguard (Nigeria). Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  8. ^ Michael Chima Ekenyerengozi. Nollywood Mirror. l.
  9. ^ FESTIVAL PRODUCTIONS. (13 September 1973). The Stage and Television Today (Archive: 1959–1994), pp. 24–27. Retrieved from Proquest.
  10. ^ M, A. M. (20 May 1976). "More plays in performance: BLACK THEATRE WORKSHOP". The Stage and Television Today (Archive: 1959–1994), p. 24. Retrieved from Proquest.
  11. ^ "It is silly to say I won't remarry–TAIWO AJAI-LYCETT". The Nation. 27 April 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  12. ^ Anna Okon and Kemi Lawal (27 January 2013). "Taiwo Ajayi–Lycett's youthful looks". The Punch. Nigeria. Archived from the original on 6 February 2015. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  13. ^ Greg Mbajiorgu (7 December 2013). "Dramatic essence of solo performing artistes in Post-Colonial Nigeria: 1966-2012". sunnewsonline.com. Archived from the original on 6 February 2015. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  14. ^ Okechukwu Uwaezuoke (20 February 2011). "Celebrating a Theatre Icon at 70". This Day Live. Archived from the original on 6 February 2015. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  15. ^ Clarkson Eberu. "Guardian News Website - Rain Of Awards At The Feast For Legends". ngrguardiannews.com. Archived from the original on 7 February 2015. Retrieved 5 February 2015.

External linksEdit