By Benjamin Njoku
She was relatively unknown in the Nigerian entertainment circuit. But after featuring in that reality TV show, ‘The Next Movie Star’ in 2005, where she finished up as the first runner-up on the show, Tonto Dikeh instantly became a ‘hot item’, stealing both fame and favour from leading Nollywood heroines.
Her stellar performance in that competition gave her edge over her contemporaries, as no sooner the show ended than she landed her first lead role in the movie ‘Holy Cross.’ Thereafter, torrents of movie roles started coming her way, and Tonto Dikeh never looked back then as she was steadily rubbing shoulders with the high and the mighty in the industry. All that was also spiced by her quest for controversy.
And like a ‘roaring and untamed’ screen diva, Tonto Dikeh was causing stirs wherever the sole of her foot stepped. Every lover of Nigerian movies or critics, would not forget this sultry actress in a hurry, if not for her daring roles in movies, then for her widely criticized musical singles which she released in 2012. The daring role, Tonto played in the highly controversial movie, “Dirty Secrets” alongside late actor, Muna Obiekwe, is still being talked about in some quarters. The actress received widespread criticism for her role in that ‘Soft Porn’ movie, with many Nigerians describing her role and actions in the movie as indecent and irresponsible. But Tonto did not give a damn even as she went on to play more daring roles in other movies.
At the height of her acting career, Tonto Dikeh delved into music to show the world her other side.
But instead of earning accolades and fortunes from her work, she earned criticisms and disapproval from fans, marking a starting point of what was to become a second nature to her- controversy. To many, Tonto Dikeh’s musical career remains a mirage and till date, the Ikwerre, Rivers State-born actress can hardly remember she once tried her hands in singing.
Recall that her two singles ‘Hi’ and ‘It’s Ova’ featuring Snypa which she released in 2012, received mixed reviews, with one party applauding her efforts, and the other advising that the actress should forget about music and stick to acting. Though the criticisms did not get at Tonto Dikeh as she continued to pursue her passion, releasing another single ‘Crazically Fit’ in which she featured singer ‘Terry G’. Yet, Tonto did not sustain her passion for music. As soon as music superstar, D’banj announced that he had signed the actress on to his record label, DB records and unveiled her new nickname ‘Pokolee’ the actress dumped music for acting again. In the midst of all this, Tonto was also busy creating buzz with her tattoos scattered all over her body. As a great lover of tattoos, the controversial actress once revealed that she had over 58 tattoos on her body and she was flaunting the tattoos at random.
When many thought the actress was slowing down, she was romantically linked to several entertainers. At a point, the rumour mills were agog with stories of Tonto Dike dating Wizkid, which both of them vehemently denied. She was also rumoured to have dated Don Jazzy, D’banj, Micheal Awujoola(Malivelihood) and a couple of other celebrities in the past. In February 2015, Tonto Dike revealed via her Instagram page that she was now dating Olakunle Oladunni a.k.a‘Churchhill’, a popular Lagos socialite who later became her ex-husband.
The actress, also sparked another controversy on social media after a film maker, Ada Slim claimed that she made the actress who she is today, even after losing N2 Million because of the movie star. The feud, which went viral online started when the filmmaker took to her page, on August 2, 2017, to accuse the actress of mocking her behind her back, dismissing her as a ‘fan’, and not returning her car. Tonto had replied, and according to her, she never lied against Ada Slim, nor did she dismiss her. “I can’t remember having your car in my possession nor owing you or having your clothes with me but If true, please big sister send me the bill. God has blessed me now and am super grateful,” the actress
Ambode, amosun wrote on her Instagram page. At a point, Tonto also apologized to Mercy Johnson on Instagram for calling her daughter a witch back in 2013.
Tonto’s sad story was the crashing of her marriage. From the outset, the marriage was built on accusation and counter-accusation. And Nigerians were not surprised, when it finally crashed like a pack of cards. The aftermath interim court injunction, restraining the actress from “airing, showing, disseminating or broadcasting any name, face, image, likeness or picture of their son, King Andrea Omodayo Igo Churchill in her well-publicized reality TV show, ‘the King Tonto Reality TV Show’, was another hurdle she had to cross. Her estranged husband, Olakunle Churchill had approached the court to protect their son “from undue indecent exposure and exploitation by the actress for personal gain and fame”. He prayed to the court that his son be regarded as a minor who is not fit to make a decision for himself.
However, it’s interesting to note that Tonto Dikeh, is one actress you can’t ignore. Despite being controversial, Tonto has a heart of gold, and this is evident in some of her charity works. But what has continued to baffle some of her admirers is her inability to stay out of spotlight even when the chips are down. The actress, in her nature has continued to spring up surprises at any given opportunity. She’s always on the fast lane. It pays her. But there are times it has not augured well for her re-branding. After the annulment of her marriage by the court, Tonto announced to the world on her Instagram that she has given her life to Christ. But her actions and inactions most times have given her fans a cause to worry.
Recently, Tonto was spotted kissing popular cross-dresser, #Bobrisky on the lips during her 33rdbirthday bash. The photo which has since sparked controversy on social media was shared by the screen diva on her Instagram page. Bobrisky also shared the photo showing them kissing with the caption, “My sis Tonto” and a lovestruck emoji. Some followers of the actress on IG lambasted and questioned her motives for sharing such controversial photo, reminding her, however, that she’s meant to be a “spirit-filled, tongue speaking and radical for Jesus.” She also, announced changing her name to ‘King Tonto’. The actress has been bearing the name on her Instagram page for some time after she got separated from her husband. She disclosed this on her Instagram page alongside a picture of her voter’s card as proof. “Officially changed my name to King Tonto, that feels good. Bear with me while I opt for greatness, King Tonto,” she wrote.
Interestingly, while Tonto is busy sharing sermons and professing a new faith on daily basis, on IG, the talented actress is also not considering it important to separate herself from the things of the world. Till date, she’s busy creating buzz and enjoying being in the spotlight. It’s her world.