Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, OON (3 February 1941) is a Nigerian actress, journalist, television presenter, and cosmetologist.
Lycett is a feminist and was the first editor of Africa Woman magazine in the 1970s
Lycett was born on 3 February 1941 in Lagos, Western Region of Colonial Nigeria, her father was of Awori heritage. She was educated at Mt Carmel Convent School, Lagos, 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. She also attended Hendon College of Technology, where she obtained a Higher National Diploma in Business Studies in 1969. While studying, she worked as a waitress 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.
She moved to advertising and was in the personnel department of advertising firm, Young and Rubicam. She then worked as a personal assistant to the managing partner of Gresham Broad and Co, an accounting firm.
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. 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, she decided to take a career in acting seriously. 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. 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.
She returned to Nigeria in 1971. She has featured in several notable Nigerian films, including Tinsel, the award-winning Nigerian soap opera.
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.
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. 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.
She is a Fellow of the Society of Nigerian Theatre Artists (SONTA).