‘I never dated Ruggedman’ – Toni Payne

Talk show host – Toni Payne and estranged wife of popular Nigerian musician 9ice bares all in this interview culled from Olori Supergal’s blog. Enjoy

A lot of people would describe Toni Payne as 9ice’s (ex) wife and Zion’s mum. How would you describe Toni Payne?
Toni Payne is a simple yet complicated person depending on who is accessing me. I see myself as a focused lady who loves the simple life and of course I am also proud mother to a wonderful son. I have been carving a niche for myself in the entertainment industry long before I became anybody’s wife. I started one of the 1st online Nigerian entertainment web magazines as far back as 2000/2001 where we featured rising talents and did interviews with music stars like 2 Face etc so I’ve been doing the little I can long before I met him.

Why do you think people assume you’re a controversial figure?
I am not a controversial person at all. I’m someone who is very firm, outspoken and can be a bit stubborn when it comes to my views but I’m far from controversial. I believe its because my name was unfairly dragged in the mud when I was falsely accused by certain sensational media writers of something I never did and it gave certain people the impression that I’m controversial. Well, I’m not.

So what is Toni Payne up to now?
Wow! I’m up to a lot of things but more recently, I am working on the production of my own TV talk show called Toni Payne Show. Its the first show I’m executive producing so its a very exciting time for me because its something iv always wanted to do. I still obviously run my artist management outfit where I have ADOL and also have my makeup line and online radio. I still do PR work as well so its safe to say I’m pretty busy.

What exactly inspired your recent TV show?
Visual Arts is something I have always had a passion for. I got a University degree in Video/Digital arts so its part of my educational background. I’ve always wanted my own talk show as far back as 1999 and even in 2003/2004ish when I guest hosted shows like Nigeria International. As per having my show, let’s say I patiently waited for Gods time to have one. My main inspiration is to live my dreams at the same time contributing my quota to the visual entertainment world.

Why should anyone look forward to your TV show?
Quality! I’m really putting effort into giving the viewers quality programming. I’m not doing it just because I feel like it, I want something they will enjoy from start to finish. Its a talk show with lots of other segments similar to an American style talk show with of course an African flair. From location to segments, I did plenty of sleepless nights researching, making sure I don’t disappoint those who believe in me coupled with working with a great team.

You are also an artiste manager; why do you think the relationship between most artistes and their managers usually end up on a bad note?
Two words: Loyalty and Understanding.. These two things are needed for long term business relationships. If one is lacking then you might have a bad situation.

In the past, you’ve been an artiste manager to W4, Zara, OLamide and most recently Adol. Would you honestly accept that you had a great influence on each of these artistes with respect to their careers?
The artists that I have worked with and that I am currently working with, ill say we have a mutual understanding when it comes to their craft. I never try to impose myself on them but I do make my suggestions, we discuss and reach an agreement. If I have influenced them or not, I think only they could answer that. I do my job the best way I can and always hope for the best.

Many people believe that most of the artistes you’ve managed could have done better career-wise. Do you agree?
Well, this is the first time I’m hearing that. The easiest way to answer this is, I am not a magician, majorly I work with upcoming act with little funds to throw around in the beginning and even with that we are able to achieve a lot in a short timeframe. A lot of artistes have been in the industry longer than Adol and they hustle hard but even with so much hustle you are yet to hear about them. The acts iv managed have released albums, shot videos, played big and small stages, been featured in top magazines, gotten paid for their craft and lots more. At the end of the day anything we do in life, God blesses, we can only work hard and hope the general public accepts what we put out. There is no magic to it and in life nothing is 100% guaranteed except death.

Is Adol the only artiste you manage now?
Yes he is.

With your wealth of experience in Artiste Management, why do you think Adol isn’t a force to reckon with in the music industry yet? Your fault or his?
You have to understand there is something called a Niche market. Adol is not a commercial act, he has his own niche market. Popularity doesn’t always equal talent, neither does it equal a big account balance. The way the industry is right now, the youth seem to appreciate beats with watered down lyrics. Those types of songs you simply dance to gain popularity faster, it doesn’t mean it pays your pocket better. I don’t think its anybody fault, its just the way things are but for his market, for people who appreciate his type of music Adol is doing very very well.

You seem to be very close with Dencia? What’s the relationship between you two?
She is a friend and a sister.

Do you consider dencia’s eccentricity a plus or dent to her image?
Dencia is being herself. She has a kind heart and that is what matters. You can’t please everybody.

Toni Payne and son Zyon

What would make you give up on your current project?

What is the most difficult part of your job?
Wow! Nothing good comes easy. Ill say nothing because I like to take all challenges in stride.

Greatest sacrifice you’ve ever made in your career?
Moving back to Naija away from my mom and my comfort zone.

If you weren’t making money or getting any sort of recognition, would you still be doing what you’re doing? If Yes, Why?
Yes! Those who know me will tell you I do it for the passion. Yes money is good but I won’t do a business strictly for money or notoriety if I did not enjoy it.

 If you weren’t this popular or didn’t get all the attention you’re getting now, would you have considered yourself a failure? And Why?
Fame does not determine success. A lot of successful people are unknown, at the same time there are famous people who only have their fame to show and nothing else. I am blessed and content and to me that’s all that matters.

Greatest achievement till date?
My son

Project you’ve handled that you’re proud of the most?
I am someone who rarely takes the time out to say oh I’m proud of myself. I just believe I’m doing what I want or need to do but I have to admit, seeing this Toni Payne Show materialize has given me some proud moments.

What do you hate most about your work?
My work? Nothing. The elements that surround my work I would say its people that feel because you are in the public eye they can write or say anything about you even when its a lie.

What would make you change career at this point?

The entertainment industry has experienced a tremendous growth in recent years, what do you appreciate the most about it?
The effort being put in by the artists and private businesses and of course the competitive nature of the game


Why do you think optimum greatness continues to elude the Nigerian Media and entertainment Industry?

Rome wasn’t built in a day

When you’re done with your TV show, what is next on your bucket list?
I want to focus on the show for now. Its a lot of hard work and longetivity is key for me. I have gotten some movie offers, and there is one particular script I’m considering. Aside from that I think my hands are full and I just need to stay focused.

You’ve got a cult following on Social Networks; how do you set a borderline between friendship and business relationships?
I view it the same way I view meeting a stranger for the first time. If there is no direct introduction its always wise to thread carefully either offline or online. Iv met and done business with a few people on social network sites though, I’m not someone who keeps many friends but I am friendly.

Some form of hate mail would have been passed across at some point also; how do you handle such without being rude?
Hahaha I rarely get hatemail though, in fact ill say I don’t. I think for the most part I’m well liked. If I did get hatemail, ill simply delete it. If its a threat then I may report it to authorities depending on the severity.

If someone tells you to your face in public how much he/she detests you, what would be your response?
Security!!!! *in my loudest voice* hahaha. I doubt anyone would be so bold, if I don’t walk away that person will never forget me or my mouth. Hehehe

How do you handle criticism from fans, clients and colleagues?
If the critisism is constructive I take a deeper look at it and try and learn from it. No one is perfect so you learn more everyday.

What would make you leave this country permanently?
Permanently meaning I can’t visit for vacation? Ahh it has to be something major like a crisis.

In Nigeria, have you been able to gain any ground with your cosmetic business?
My cosmetic is a private label brand. I do get pressured to go commercial but nothing inside me has urged me to yet. I enjoy doing it the way I am without the added pressure. I’m someone who listens to my instinct. I would rather be making a profit as a private label brand.

As a public figure, do you see yourself as a role model to anyone?
A lot of young girls do approach me and tell me I inspire them and they see me as their role model. I’m happy if I can touch someones life but at the same time I’m just being myself. Doing my thing and trying to live a fulfiled life. If it works for people then that’s great but I never wanna be pressured into acting like someone I’m not because I want to be a role model or I want to be viewed a certain way. If being myself is good enough then I don’t mind being called or seen as a role model.

Do you see yourself as a threat to the male folks in your field?
No I don’t. The industry is growing and there is enough room for everyone male and female.

Do you consider yourself a person of style?
I am a simple person, I like to be comfortable. I have my own personal style which I’m pleased with. If I want a bit more flair I save myself the headache and let my stylist handle that.

What you won’t be caught dead wearing?
Nothing lol

What / who can you die for?
My son

Rumours about yourself you’ve heard in time past, but aren’t true?
Hmmmn, there was a rumor that I dated Ruggedman and was caught cheating while married. I have never dated ruggedman at any point in my life, and I have never cheated on anyone I was married to. Its not who I am. There was another rumor this year that I was pregnant, I’m obviously not. My 1st and only pregnancy resulted in my son.

Rumours about yourself you’ve heard in time past, you wish were true?
Don’t mind them, its the rumors I want to claim they won’t write. Like Toni Payne bought a private jet. Ill just jejely say Amen Lol!!!

How have you managed to stay strong amidst all the challenges you’ve faced in the entertainment industry, especially from the media?
God has been my strength. He has given me the will and strength to face my adversaries head on, coupled with determination and family support, and of course my sons smile can ease any pain. I consider myself a winner because a lot probably wouldn’t have pulled through. I give God all glory because I’m not broken, I feel brand new.

Music you’re feeling at the moment (Nigerian & Foreign)
Anything 2face! 2face! 2face and Chris Brown

 Is there anything you think we don’t know about you?
I’m an introvert. I would rather stay home cook and watch a movie than go out and party.

Credit: Olori Supergal



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2 Responses to "‘I never dated Ruggedman’ – Toni Payne"

  1. Qtie says:

    Love Toni Payne and her business acumen. She should indeed go into talk show it suites her well. Saw her once on Nigeria International, she was great and presented her piece very well. All the best girl!


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