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Gabriel Afolayan is one of the sons of late movie-maker, Ade Afolayan ‘Ade Love’. The young man, who started his acting career in Ibadan in this interview with
Tunde Ayanda speaks of the fulfilment he finds in his work and the challenges his father's name brings to him
You sing and act, how did that come about?
I've always been around arts while growing up. I was born in Lagos but I grew up in Ibadan where our house was not too far from Baba Sala's house and we've always been family friends. My dad was his friend, they started together and this gave me an opportunity to act at a very tender age. I was opportuned to be around wherever performances took place. The music, the drama I was opportuned to witness them all and it was all these that actually gave birth to what I'm doing today.
Art is not something I just thought of in my sleep, I've always been around acting and music as a child, for me it’s a way back thing.
But you haven't made a debut album, what's delaying that?
As it is right now, we are not working on an album yet, we are just recording songs and what we are really basing our strength on is singles.
We want to keep pushing singles out and we have a single on air right now, the title is Kokoro Ife (love bug) it is really doing well, we just started music officially and this is like a welcome song for Gabriel Afolayan as a musician. The acting has always been there but it is now that there is a professional decision to go into music, it’s not just because acting is not fulfilling, it is based on music appreciation.
But won't there be a clash of priority?
I'm under a management right now, I'm under Studio 6 Multimedia limited and they are responsible for me as a brand. They make movies and also have a record label. So, I'm like a complete brand for them and we are just getting started, music-wise.
You come from a family of artistes, your late dad and your brother, has this in any way influenced your decision to also become an artiste?
It is a family legacy but I have a choice. It is not a conscripting thing that I have to be by force, even my dad during his lifetime would always tell you that ‘you must choose what you want to do, don't say because I'm a filmaker, you also want to do movies. If you really love this job then you can come into it, don’t do it because your dad is there’.
It's a family legacy, no doubt about that and it has brought about the revelations and gave insight into what I want to do myself, but basically, it’s a passion I have for this job that is driving me into it.
For instance, the first time I came in contact with the camera was in 1990, so if I can still grow up around that and still feel I should go for a study on this, it means a lot.
My daddy wasn’t there to say I should study Theatre Arts, I decided on that by myself and it’s because of the passion that I have for the job. I am so fulfilled in this profession, as it is right now I'm doing what I know how best to do and it brings me joy, the appreciation has been so large, people love what I do and that alone gives me joy.
As far as acting is concerned, apart from your dad, who were the other people you looked up to?
I respect one man, he is an Indian actor called Amithab Bashan, he is ever there, he is an actor I admire so much.
What about your contemporaries, who among them do you feel is doing good?
I love all of them because I know you need to learn one or two things from each other, no man is an island. You either learn how not to do it or how to do it even better.
I love everybody's arts, art talks about varieties, so you can just limit yourself to only one role, you need to be very flexible and you learn flexibility through your dealings with people, through your action and being very open-minded, I've been able to learn so much from my contemporaries.
Being an Afolayan, does that earn you an automatic role in movies?
No! Sometimes, my names even come as a barrier and I see them as challenges because once they can attach your background, they get to demand for more, people would always want you to do more, because they knew your father did something good, they would expect you to do more in a way, so that means you need to know your own identity and build it, my name calls for so much and if I live up to that dream, I can surpass it. Being an Afolayan calls for more task, it calls for giving out more and the name is a challenge on its own.
To you, what makes a good actor?
The ability to breathe life into characters, as an actor you are an interpreter, you are like a small god and you should be able to breathe life into characters, in your own world you are a creator and you must be able to give life because its your calling. A good actor works with voice, facial gesture and body language.
With the success your brother, Kunle, has achieved in the movie industry one would have expected to see you in some of his works. What contributions have you been making?
We are very close but the point is that in all his works I was always behind the camera. I learn and see more staying behind the camera because I would be closer to him and see everything than just me being in front of the camera as an actor, through that I've learnt how to put a production crew together. Don’t be surprised to see me soon coming out with my own flick.
How would you learn? It's by staying close to the goons of the game and my brother is one of the best in Africa right now. He has proven himself to do more even than my father, I'm happy everybody knows our background and see what we've been able to do with it, what else do I want? It gives me joy to sit with him behind the cameras than to be in front of the camera because I learn more from that, though it is a professional decision and very soon you will get to see the result.
Can you take us into the Afolayan family, what was growing up like?
I grew up in Ibadan, life generally to every human being is very challenging. I won’t say I had it all going for me as a child.
My childhood was like that of every normal child and life for any kid that wants to grow up and be great in life is always rough, whoever enjoys the end must have had a very rough beginning.
My growing up was very challenging, I did all my education in Ibadan, primary, secondary and university.
What fond memories of your father do you still carry with you?
His songs. That man was so full and I learnt a lot from his style of singing. I love soul music and I know he inspired it.
He played instruments at home, my music came from that direction and I enjoy soul music because it’s healing.
It’s a conscious music and not something you will just hear and start dancing. It has appeal and a level of emotion. The memory of my dad that follows me around is his music, I love his style of music.
All the Afolayans are considered to be ladies’ men but there was a time news broke out that you are in the habit of dating older women for financial gains, how true was that?
That must have been on the internet, it’s the same reply I give people I'll give you. There is always a journey to a man's life and I will tell you categorically that if I roam around such folk you will see the effect on me, you will see it in my life.
That particular story you talk about, if you check the trend did you see any comments on it? Did you see any negative response?
But it was also alleged that one of the women bought you a jeep?
You should see the Jeep outside now? Did you see me driving any jeep? This is entertainment, people would just start up something not because it’s the truth, a lot of lies go around in the industry.
You are young, single and handsome, how do you manage the fame and women?
It’s your calling, no one sends you message. It was you who woke up and said it is what you want. Actually fame attracts women and they always want to identify with popular people but it is you as an entertainer, who will be on guard and beg God for direction.
Our line is women-oriented and we can’t do without them, but God has been giving me wisdom to handle that.
Apart from singing and acting, what other things do you love doing?
I write and do other things behind the camera.
What's a normal day like for you?
A normal day is all about getting on the hustle, getting to do what I didn’t do yesterday.