Our celebrity profile of the week Kunle Afolayan was born to the legendary Afolayan family, whose ‘famous six’ comprising of Adeyemi Afolayan, Toyin Afolayan, Aremu Afolayan, Moji Afolayan, Gabriel Afolayan, and Kunle Afolayan have contributed immensely to the African theatrical art, filming making and acting industry.
One can boldly say acting and film-making is in the blood of revered popular Nigerian Filmmaker, Director and actor Kunle Afolayan; whose movies are till date listed amongst the highest grossing Nigerian movies ever. He is the son of Adeyemi Afolayan popularly known as Ade love, a prominent famous theatre and film director and producer in the 70s and 80s. in the less than the 10years, Kunle who was initially an actor before yielding to the directorial and film-making lure has made history becoming one of the first film makers who was able to propel African films into cinemas, attracting huge attention and revenue from the international market. A multi-award winner, his films Irapada, Phone Swap and more has made box office records with his movie The figurine bagging nomination in 10 categories and wining most at the 2010 African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) .The film also won five major awards in the African Film Academy
Early Life And Career
Young Kunle Afolayan did not dive into the acting pool immediately despite he is from a family of actors and film-makers. In fact instead of following in the family’s footstep, Kunle bagged a degree in Economics and was a very successful banker before the lure of acting and film-making became too much for him to resist. Being a very savvy individual, Kunle approached industry heavyweights Tade Ogidan and Tunde Kelani and shared his film-making dreams but was advised to start as an actor just like his father. Kunle’s first featured film was Saworide but between his banking job and his yet unassigned passion for film production, Kunle acting career was spare and minimal.
In 2004, Kunle made the momentous decision to quit his successful banking career and follow his true passion which was film-making. He resigned his job and stayed home for eight months researching the path ahead. Armed with theoretical knowledge, a Diploma in Digital film-making from the New York Film Academy, experience and zeal, Kunle set up shop in rented space in Opedi. While there the idea and script for the Yoruba film Irapada was born and the rest they say is history.
Since then he has made He has made several extremely popular titles including: The Figurine: Araromire which was in the Yoruba and English languages and Phone Swap which featured Wale Ojo, Joke Silva, Nse Ikpe Etim and the legendary Chika Okpala. Kunle Afolayan appeared at the Subversive Film Festival in 2011 with his colleague Zeb Ejiro representing the Nigerian film industry deemed the second largest film industry in the world. In May 2013, Phone Swap premiered in France at the first edition of Nollywood Week Paris and won the Public Choice Award. After the release of October 1 movie Kunle Afolayan became the producer of the second highest grossing Nigerian film of all time.
Personal Life /Scandals and Legal Tussles
The journey to filmmaker paradise certainly has its perks for the outspoken Kunle Afolayan who gifted himself Thunderbird Ford 1965. The model is the fourth generation of the Ford Thunderbird which is a large personal luxury car produced by Ford. Kunle is married to his lovely wife Tolu Afolaya and the union is blessed with have three children. On 6 April 2015, the very vocal Afolayan posted a tweet on his personal account which insinuated that Igbos were the majority group behind copyright infringement in Nigeria. Amidst fierce criticism and social media wars, the film-maker released an apology explaining that he was concerned about the piracy of his films, and most especially threats on the potential release of unlicensed copies of October 1, his latest film at the time. True his predication or behalf as revenge against the perceived slur on the Igbos, pirated copies of October 1 hit the market precisely a week after.
Free thinker Kunle, made headlines recently when he posted photos and videos of his son as a mechanic apprentice. Amidst major social media debate on the right and wrong of his action the prolific director explained his stance in a chat with Saturday Beats that ‘“Children of this generation may think they are having fun because they didn’t experience what some of us experienced but they are caged. Most of their life is spent either in front of television or the computer game. My children are a bit different; they are not addicted to anything. Even the most senior one who has a phone, most times I force him to pick the phone because he doesn’t stay on it. “I also want him to learn how to interact with people outside the house and learn how to speak Yoruba so that when he is back in school, he will understand that life has different sides and not everybody is privileged to have what he has,” he added.
Kunle Afolayan tapped into the blooming Nigerian fashion industry this year by debuting his clothing line and brand. Speaking on his decision, the actor explained that “I never planned to have a clothing line; I like to be different, so I decided to use the Adire fabric to improve on the kembes I bought in India. After I designed and made some for myself, people liked it; that was why I decided to make a business out of it.”
In the last two years, fans of Kunle Afolayan have been eagerly waiting for a new film to no avail. The film-maker opines “I haven’t shot any film in two years because return is not guaranteed except if you get distribution outside Nigeria. We don’t have a proper distribution framework that gives the proper return on investment in movies. We also lack adequate capacity building;