Digital Media Strategist and latest author in town, Toyosi Etim-Effiong, is definitely having the best time of her life. Married to actor and filmmaker Daniel Etim-Effiong, and blessed with a beautiful daughter, her debut book Now You Know Me Better, chronicles experiences in life that shaped her into the woman she is proud of today.
Not new to the media space, Toyosi’s professional career started off in the banking industry where she worked as an Internal Auditor for Guaranty Trust Bank, before she made the career move to the Media and Entertainment Industry. Starting off in multiple capacities including being a presenter, producer, writer and reporter at Sahara TV New York , she has since worked across different media platforms in the country holding her own as content creator.
In this encounter, Toyosi shares with us, her journey to publishing amongst other issues.
What is the inspiration behind your debut book, Now You Know Me Better?
Now you know me better is a recollection of experiences that have led up to this moment where I’m confident of the woman I’m becoming. There are occurences growing up which I was ashamed of, even when I wasn’t responsible for them. But talking about them over the years opened my mind to the fact that those experiences shaped me.
I also shared about my experience being married to a budding celebrity; the women, the loneliness, the invasion of privacy and so much more. You should read it! I was inspired to write the full version of these stories after I saw people’s reactions to the snippets I shared on Instagram. It also helped that there wasn’t much going on during the lockdown; so, I was able to start and finish writing the book during that period.
Did you work with other professionals on your path to publication?
Yes I did. I had initially thought it was just going to be an e-book that people could download and enjoy. I wasn’t really taking it serious. I had even designed a cover with weird polkadots on canvas but I was praying one morning and the Holy Spirit said very clearly to me that everything I did had to have the mark of excellence on it. That was when I knew that this was serious to Him. So, I got professionals on board to help with the editing and cover design and miraculously, a publisher came on board and took over publishing and distribution.
Tell us a bit about the books and authors that have inspired you?
One of my all-time favourites is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. The favourite line that stood out for me is “When you really want something to happen, the whole universe will conspire so that your wish comes true”. I think that is so powerful. I also admire Chimamanda and all she has accomplished through her writing. The end of Half of A Yellow Sun still haunts when I think of it. I’m currently in a personal development phase so I’m reading a lot of personal development books. Favourite so far are Hello Tomorrow by Dr Cindy Trimm, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker and Firebrand Forerunner by Debola Deji-Kurunmi
At what point in life did you discover you had a flair for writing?
Writing for me has always been a hobby. In fact, taking it all the way back, English Language and Literature were two of my favourite subjects growing up. I started off writing about my experiences on my blog in 2010. I had the not-so-anonymous blog for years, then I became a contributor on Bellanaija where I would write about mind shifts, personal development and some of my experiences as well. I wrote a couple of articles for Genevieve Magazine and Glam Africa, and with the advent of social media, I’ve written tons of stories on Instagram.
Of all your experiences that you have written about, which one has the strongest effect on your life?
The dichotomy of my childhood. I am the woman I am now because of the dual experiences I had growing up and I won’t trade that for anything.
What challenges did you face writing this book?
I have an almost 2-year old who needed my attention from time to time when she’s not running around the house. So, I had to tailor my writing schedule to her schedule. Thankfully, I have a good support system in my husband and our staff at home, so it wasn’t super-hectic. I had to stay up late though to meet my deadlines and incorporate feedback from the editor. The other major challenge was in my mind where I was thinking thoughts like, “Who sent you?”, “Will anybody read?”, “Does anybody care about what I’m writing now?” etc.
You are a wife, mother and career woman, what is your secret to coping with work and family?
Having the most amazing support system; and the head of that support system is God. I went through a major depressive phase this year after Pastor Ibidun passed on. I called her mama. It was only God who pulled me out because I just saw myself sinking deeper and deeper into depression. God just continued to show up. So, He’s the major reason why I can cope with the life that I have.
I’m also more disciplined with my schedule. I’m the queen of getting important things done when they should be done. I protect my time and channel my energy in the right things because, I’ve learned that energy is finite. If you waste it on something unproductive, you can never get that time and energy back. So, being disciplined with my schedule helps.
When you are not working or writing what do you do? How do you relax?
I’m either playing with my daughter, reading or listening to a book, catching up with friends or watching Netflix.
What inspires you in life generally?
I’m inspired by my potential, what I know has been deposited in me. I heard Cindy Trimm say something like a lot of people are going to be surprised when they meet who they should have been. So on the last day, God will be like, you were supposed to be e.g Secretary General of UN but you stopped at being a manager at a multinational thinking that was it! That thought that I should be so much more than I currently am, inspires me to reach for the highest version of myself.
Do you have an idea or the vision of what the highest version of yourself is?
It’s being fully transformed to a state where my actions, reactions, character, speech, mind, everything about me is exactly like Christ’s regardless of what popular culture dictates.
What is fashion like for you? how would you describe your dress sense ?
I’m really laid back when it comes to making fashion choices. I love chic but comfortable pieces that I can eat well and breathe in. Fashion is not my forté but I like to look good.
Where did you grow up and what was growing up like for you?
Without giving much of Now You Know Me Better away, growing up for me was fun and confusing at the same time. I had to balance growing up on Bode Thomas and going to school in Victoria Island with spending weekends at Amukoko, close to Ajegunle with my grandma and cousins. So it felt like during the week, I was living a certain life and during the weekends, another. I am a product of both backgrounds. Read the full story in my book.
Did that in anyway inform your choice of career as a teenager?
To be honest, I think the career decision was made for me by my family. If I were to choose, I would most likely have dived right into the arts and media space; but I found myself studying Economics and even going on to get a Master’s degree in Economic Development and Policy Analysis. It was after I had worked in a bank for three years after the MSc, that I decided to finally pursue my dream career in Media.
What is the next step for Toyosi?
I am going to enjoy being a first-time, newly-published author for a while, go on book tours, continue with my podcast, As Toyo, Says and in a few months, I’ll go back to producing content for TV and digital.
Do you have a New Year Resolution? If you do, what is it and why?
My New Year’s resolution is to work on existing relationships. I have a number of friendships that are still very surface that I’d like to deepen. For this year, I’m being intentional about certain friendships and relationships.
What are your expectations for the year 2021?
I’m expecting increase, growth and all things working together for my good. No matter what the year brings, good, not-so-good, up or down, everything must work in my favour this year! I’m no longer leaving things to chance. I’m creating my world with my words.