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Arts

Kam Williams | 12/5/2012, 8:50 a.m.

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Toks Olagundoye was raised in her native country as well as Switzerland and England. The exotic Nigerian-Norwegian beauty moved to the United States to attend Smith College, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts.

After jumpstarting her career in New York, the actress relocated to Los Angeles and soon landed roles on such TV series as “NCIS,” “Prime Suspect,” “Switched at Birth,” “CSI: NY,” “Law and Order” and “Ugly Betty,” to name a few. She now stars in ABC’s new hit comedy “The Neighbors” playing “Jackie Joyner-Kersee,” an alien from the planet Zabvron who has taken on human form to live in a gated community in New Jersey.

Toks’ character is married to the community’s Supreme Leader and serves as the Zabvronian equivalent of the First Lady. “Jackie” is baffled by Earth’s strange customs but is more open than her stubborn husband, who refuses to adapt.

In addition to acting, Toks enjoys writing and producing films for the web and is the founder of Unlimited Ceiling, for which she’s created web series like “Callbacks” and “AlphaSeries.” In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, horseback riding, Pilates, archery and going to the gun range. Toks’ secret talent is imitating accents from around the world.

What interested you in “The Neighbors?”

Well, honestly, I love being an actor and a job is a job, and I’m always happy to have a job. So, initially, I would say: employment. But I am also a sci-fi lover and have been itching to be on a sitcom forever. So, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to audition and I really went for it.

Tell me a little about the show’s wacky premise.

Sure. A community of aliens set up a colony of sorts on Earth in a New Jersey golfing community, taking on the guise of human form, and they do their best to fit in and not attract attention. Of course, they fail spectacularly. One of the alien couples in the community gets tired of waiting around to hear from their home planet and they vacate their house, leaving it open for a nice, human Jersey family of five to purchase and move into. Let the hysterical comedy of errors ensue.

How would you describe your character, Jackie?

Quirky, cute, loving, kind, curious, proper, diligent, patient, inquisitive, genuine, lovely, tall, green-blooded… Okay, now I’m just throwing words at you. I shall cease and desist.

So, you play an alien queen who’s impersonating U.S. Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Which is more challenging, playing an alien or impersonating Jackie?

Well, neither, because neither is the case. Jackie is the wife of the Zabvrobian supreme commander, so she is more of a matriarch than a queen. And the aliens are not impersonating the athletes they have named themselves after. They have taken on these names in the hope of becoming a part of the elite. In their minds, choosing the names of accomplished sports figures will help them fit in and excel. They don’t realize it actually makes them all stick out like a box of sore thumbs. Yes, I realize that is not an official adage. Hey, it is now!