Though the name Joy Tongo may not generally ring a bell, for those in the entertainment, this lady is someone that wields a huge influence in the showbiz sector in Nigeria.
Joy has managed and worked with top artistes dominating the music industry at the moment including Wizkid, P-Square, Cynthia Morgan, Yemi Alade amongst others.
For now, the talented entertainment professional has stopped artiste management, but she would not think twice to work with Star Boy boss, Wizkid, even though she got the singer his first American Visa.
In this interview with Ebuka Peters, the publisher of #Lagoscomedynews, Joy spoke about sundry issues including her decision not to live in Nigeria again because of the many hustles in the country.
Let’s meet you:
I am a media person, US visa agent, entertainer, TV producer, a legal adviser and I do most of the legal adviser job for Nigerian artistes abroad; the US, the UK and Canada. I basically do a lot of stuff as far as entertainment is concerned. I also organize tour and visa for artistes in the US, the UK and Canada. Last year, I did Yemi Alade’s tour to the US and this year, I am will also be doing her Canadian tour. I had been P-Square’s agent from way back 2010 till they broke up. I did Wizkid’s first visa to US. I used to be Cynthia Morgan’s manager; I brought her from the scratch way back 2012 and took her to the States, but I stopped working with her in 2016. I also used to be Retta’s manager. I am also the co-founder of Nigeria Entertainment Award (NEA). I was the president. And the first time BET decided to come to Nigeria, I was one of those who brought them to Nigeria and then we did a whole lots of stuff like spotlight and shows, when they were launching in Africa/Nigeria cypher; so basically I do everything in entertainment.
For how long have you been doing entertainment?
The first NEA was 2006/2007. So, NEA was what launched me into entertainment; that’s approximately 12 years in the showbiz industry.
With your credentials, how did you stand out in showbiz industry like this?
When you do your passion, I believe it is something that comes easily and so, it sounds like it’s a lot but it is not a lot because it is a passion. However, everything boils down to entertainment. They are intertwined together. I have an MBA now in Finance; Masters in Business so I believe everything is business to me.
Which school did you get all these degrees from?
The University of New York for my Masters and the first degree at the same school. I was born in the States, but came back to stay awhile in Nigeria before going back to the US.
How many artiste have you managed so far?
Well, I don’t manage artiste anymore but basically, they are Retta and Cynthia Morgan for management aspect. But when it comes to being an agent, I do that in the States mostly all the time in the summer time but I am picky when it comes to being an agent of an artiste.
It is a lot of work because I want to work with the right artiste that will bring money to me as well because when you are on tour, it is a lot of work. So basically, I have only worked with Yemi Alade and P-Square.
Why do you stop an artiste management?
It is a lot of work and drama, but I think I have reached the level of my life that I have grown above some certain things and artiste management is one of them. I don’t think I can manage any artiste now even for $10 billion because there is a lot of stress and work to do: I can’t even live in Nigeria anymore but I can come here for business; I have passed through that stage.
Meaning artiste management in Nigeria is stressful?
Well, there is stress everywhere, but I think you have to be tough to live in Nigeria and I think I am tough and strong, but I have passed that phase.
How do you see the entertainment business compared with what is attainable abroad?
It is great!!! Nigeria is my country. I love Nigeria, there is a lot going on over here. The Nigerian entertainment industry is growing and again I was one of the people in America that brought afro music to the America and starting with NEA; starting with bringing artistes touring in the States now African music and Nigerian music is booming in the States with the likes of Wizkid, Davido, Tekno and all the people. African music is really doing great in the States. Years ago, they don’t play Nigerian music on the radio or in the club but now, when you tune in your radio station in the States, they play Nigerian music even the gospel music. Sinach is doing very well in the States. I am actually going to be working with her this summer. African music is really doing very well in the States and I think we have just started.
Who are some of those Nigerian artistes you would love to work with?
Off course I will like to work with Wizkid. I have had history with him years ago. His first US visa was done for him by me, So I have known them very: it is very, very possible for us to work together musically because Wizkid is very talented: a whole lot of artistes are doing very well right now.
How was Yemi Alade’s tour?
It was massive and great. African music is very great; like I said, it can only get better. I did her tour in the US last year and she will be touring Canada this year.
What challenge did you experience doing her tour?
African music is still new and it can’t be like American music. So, there is a whole lot of work that we have put through to make sure things are done right so there are challenges every day.
How do you see Nigerians going outside to shoot their videos instead of shooting in Nigeria?
There is nothing wrong with that: shoot your video wherever you want to shoot your video. At the end of the day, it is still African music because you know the vision and story you want to tell: if you have an African story, you can do it in Nigeria but if you want glamour, girls, some kind of background or image you are looking at: so I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. You can shoot your video wherever you want it. I like videos made in Africa especially Nigeria but it doesn’t matter where you shoot your video because at the end of the day, it is a story you are trying to tell.
What keeps you away from thinking about the challenges?
God is my number one motivator because without Lord Jesus, I don’t think I will be able to go through the day. Right now, that is my only motivation, knowing that off course, when I have God, I have life and good health; you know without life and good health you can’t do nothing every other thing to me. The bible says “seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and every other things will be added to you”. So what motivates me is having the Lord Jesus in my life.
What is the secret behind your success in showbiz industry?
Well, I am still growing, I have my own definition of success: to me, success is a journey: I am just starting through the phase of the journey: like you are saying advising other people: you can’t come into entertainment industry without passion, you are going to lose. If I don’t have the passion to be in the entertainment, I don’t think I am going to be here because at the beginning, there is no money. You are working and working and there is no money. I think it is the passion and the love for what you do that that keep you going. It is just like an artiste that has been working without knowing where the next meal is coming from. So, the passion is a biggest deal).
What is your advice to the young Nigerian artistes?
They must first have passion because talent is not everything. I used to say talent is 10% over 100% but recently, Yemi Alade’s manager, Taiye said talent is just 2%-5% over 100%. So, it is not your talent but that the business matters. You can be so talented and don’t have a head of where you are going and nobody knows about you.
What have you been doing to remain relevant?
Well, I am trying because staying relevant still has to do with your passion; by getting your face out there and keep working.
How did you survive this male-dominated industry?
In Nigeria and everywhere in the world, being a lady in a male dominated industry is very hard. When I first came to this country, things were very hard; I remember I used to break down and cry. I will go to the back and shed some tears and later people will be like that girl is strong, mean and tough but I wasn’t like that when I first came to Nigeria: I was a very soft person, tender but Nigeria broke me: so I will say my biggest achievement ever is living in Nigeria because Nigeria made me strong. I learnt business wise in Nigeria. One of the person that taught me how to be tough is Jude Okoye; so I remember one time he called and he told me “Joy, you are ready for this business: you are tough; I hear about you out there. Then I became the person that people will be like call Joy: talk to her, she is mean, tough but that’s not me but I have to learn new things and adapt: like they say, wherever you find yourself you have to change up. I can’t be living the way I live in the States in Nigeria; I have to create a different image for myself by becoming tough like I said I used to cry. I am still learning everyday, but I know that I am a better person now and people will ride on you in this country: It is really hard living in Nigeria: I give it up to people living in this country I must admit and Nigeria makes me. So it gives me a different way to see life.
How do you relax?
Well, I love vacation, I love travelling a lot to different parts of the world but at the same time, I don’t love travelling because I have travelled almost part of the world especially during tours but when it comes to vacation, I love travelling because travelling is like education. You will get see other people’s culture, different food, how people relate and it just makes you a different kind of person and it makes me happy.
Who is your role model?
Ahhhhhwu!!!! I like Oprah
Why did you pick Oprah?
She is just hard working but I will say I like Mo Abudu, but in America, people say I look like Angela Basit. But I seriously like Oprah in America, but in Nigeria, I like Mo Abudu: I just like women doing great things and fearless.
Are you single?
Well, as far as I am not married, I am single: even if I am dating someone. I am single.
How would you describe your fashion sense?
Well, I love fashion a lot: whatever makes a lady feel beautiful and comfortable is fashion. I love something elegant.
How do you combine your faith with showbiz especially with the bad perception?
I have heard people say good Christians should not be in showbiz, but it is just like when you are working in the hospital (my brother is a medical doctor) and the owner of the hospital is not a Christian, do you feel bad about this? No, you should be the shining light because you are a light in the industry you find yourself; that is the way I put it. If you are a lawyer and your client is not a Christian, do you reject such job? I am a light in the industry, that’s what I tell people and I have been in this industry for years especially when I lived in Nigeria, but those who know me can attest to the fact that I am different. If am not working, you can’t even catch me outside clubbing. So, I am a light in the industry; I am totally different.
Can you tell us your future project?
Yeah. Right now, I am going into production because I am working on a talk show, documentary but basically, I just want to spot Africa, letting them know that Africa is very beautiful, talented and the power of Africa. So right now, I want to spot Africa in a better way especially African fashion.
What do you have to tell ladies depending on men for survival?
When you have a goal and a dream, nothing can stop you. Wherever you found yourself, just get the best of it. You have a dream, goal, vision, I don’t think the economy can stop you: it can be a hindrance definitely, I mean I understand that, but it cannot stop you. I have heard a lot about people who started with nothing but today, they are very successful in the same Nigeria that we all say is hard. A goal, vision and a dream with God will not stop you from success.
Who is your crush?
I don’t a crush in Nigeria, but in America, I like Tyler Perry, though he is taken. I just like a God-fearing person.