The trip from Ibadan to Lagos wasn’t as smooth as we had expected it to be, and despite the several hiccups and delays experienced, we didn’t give up on making our fixed appointment with the filmmaking icon KUNLE AFOLAYAN. We arrived at the head office of GOLDEN EFFECTS few minutes past two to meet this reserved, sophisticated, and entertaining personality whose awesomeness transcends screenplay. Kunle who revealed to us in his interview that he was working on a script before we arrived had over 25 awards on his shelf; his office denoted the persona of a workaholic as it had a box of clothes in a corner and several reading/writing materials on his table. Nonetheless, he was patient in answering our questions and showed his generosity by handing us a parting gift on our way out.
Kunle Afolayan, who was born into a polygamous family, and grew up with neither silver nor gold spoon but “just a spoon” as he calls it (i.e. an average family) says growing up was fun and interesting for him. Born into a popular family with Adelove as his father, he got all the attention and exposure that comes with being related to a TV personality. The foundation of his present success as suspected by many is rooted in his childhood days. “I am privileged to be in the business part of filming. My siblings and I witnessed how films were being made but were too young to understand the business aspect of it”. He said. Thanks to his father’s foresight, his father engaged him deeply in the business at a tender age by ensuring he accompanied him and his team to different locations such as the southwestern part of Nigeria, Abidjan, Togo, Benin Republic and the likes. This exposure taught our icon how to run a cinema business, create publicity, promote and source for revenue for films.
Just like every other person, our dear Kunle Afolayan grew up into a fine young man, had an HND in Business Administration and went after the regular white collar jobs; the banking industry to be precise. However, in 1998, the opportunity that set him on the right course presented its self. He was auditioned and picked to play the famous role Aresejabata in the popular movie SARWOROEDE. This kicked started his career in the industry. In his words, “Saworoede was my first film and what really helped me was working with the best hands. It was quite an experience then because I was the youngest except for Kabira. Every other person like Tunde Kilani and Baba Faleti were very experienced. I don’t think there was a better way to start because, after that, I started dreaming and in 2004, I shot my movie”.
Kunle is indeed a unique personality. Wondering where the inspiration for all the outstanding creative works he has attributed to his name comes from. Unlike several personalities who get their muse from environment, nature, etc, Kunle says his muse is “the Me that’s in Me. No wonder he describes himself as ‘simple and focused’. According to him, “filming is more than just sitting down and calling the shots, especially if you want to be a director. You need to understand the elements of filmmaking; the creativity and artistic aspect of it… basically, if I have to do it at all, it has to be done properly”. With this, I guess it won’t be out of place to call our dear Kunle a perfectionist; which in this profession he has found himself, can be said to be a good characteristic which has worked for him thus far. More of his perfectionist trait unveils itself in his decision not to feature in more than one movie in a year. This is because the planning and execution of his movies take him two years and it requires his undivided attention. He takes ample time to direct, produce and plan his movies and makes sure he stays on top of every situation. Well, as an island as this may sound, it has paid out even as the result is visible through his award-winning movie Figurine, the romantic-comedy Phone Swap and the pre-colonial movie October 1.
The successful filmmaker has once again proved that the much-acclaimed credit given to certificates in our present world cannot be compared to capability, creativity, passion, talent and the likes. Despite his six months filmmaking course in New York., he says that the course isn’t what has sustained him in the industry. “Your certificate is what you show but it doesn’t show what you are capable of … So, it isn’t always about education, some people are destined to be great, and they become great through Gods help and hard work”. He said.
Unlike most celebrities, Kunle has successfully combined his success with humility. He describes himself not as a celebrity but as a human who likes to set things straight. To him, impacting lives is of top most priority and not the fame.
He further gives insight into the movie industry. Unlike the shallow mentally most Nigerian have concerning poorly financed and shot movies, he makes us understand that most of these movies are often accepted by Africans in Diaspora especially those in American, the Caribbean etc. According to him, most of these movies actually bring good returns to its producers than some of the well-financed, acted and directed movies. Furthermore, he made us understand that piracy isn’t the major challenge like most people think. Piracy becomes a major problem only when the major means of distribution is through DVD.
After much ado about himself, our thoughtful icon decides to leave a word for all the chaps who consider him a role model figure. So, to the young, middle-aged or old goal getters out there, our icon says “if you have a dream, just keep chasing it. And if the breakthrough doesn’t come on time, it doesn’t mean you are not good at what you do. Someone like Samuel L. Jackson didn’t get a break until he was over 40; presently, he is one of the highest paid black actors in Hollywood. Chase your dreams realistically and don’t bite more than what you can chew”.