Gabriel Afolayan: Acting is forever with me, music an added trait
Gabriel Afolayan is a Nollywood actor and singer. He hails from Agbamu, Irepodun Local Council of Kwara State and was born by Nigerian entertainment icon, Adeyemi Afolayan, popularly known as ‘Ade Love’.
The graduate of Theatre Arts from the University of Ibadan went on to study Performing Arts at the Identity Drama School, Brixton, London.
The talented actor started his acting career in 1990 and has since featured in several hit movies, and received numerous awards and nominations.
Afolayan, who is known by his musical stage name G-Fresh, has further released albums with hit singles, including Kokoro Ife, Awelewa, Chapterz, Plug it, Dayan Mo Club 09, Kpasikona and Put Your Money (Bebe Toh Duro). In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, the actor speaks about his role in the Netflix original, ‘Blood Sisters’ and his passion for music.
You played a pivotal role in the Netflix original, ‘Blood Sisters’. Why did you decide to be part of the project?
The job is good and I love it. I fell for it. I fell in love with the script and it was something I really wanted to jump on. Also, I love the studio handling it – EbonyLife and Netflix. You know what it means to be on a job powered by Netflix as an actor. These are the things I considered carefully before accepting the job.
What are your thoughts on the storyline?
The story itself has a lot of societal values instilled in it, one that the people will not just get to see but they will learn a lot from. They will be entertained and see likeable characters. You will see characters that are closer to you and those that are a far distance from you. So all these key elements formed the reason I chose the script.
How would you say the movie has influenced you, and what lessons have you garnered?
I think the lesson in the movie is my number one takeaway. The part that I played talks more about rivalry among siblings which is imminent in all homes; setting standards and wanting the kids to match to it. This, for me, is a big issue that we don’t get to talk about often. It is so deep in many homes today that people tend to cause unnecessary troubles in their homes because of this standard. So, I felt I could speak to the people through this character. I want people to know how bad this is and why parenting can be bad when you choose a favourite among your kids. It is so bad that some people grow old to keep fighting even among the family. Those are the ills in the movie that got me attracted to the role that I played, and I said nothing would stop me from being part of the project. No other reason got me attracted to the movie.
With the newbies in the industry, how do you ensure that your career keeps getting the attention it deserves?
I have chosen a career path that I must follow carefully and consciously. It does not mean my career will not be in the spotlight or I have to force my way into the game. Half of the time, it is always good to do things that resonate with you and your brand because whether you like it or not, whatever you feel like an actor in the role you are playing is what the audience will feel when they see you in the movie.
Between music and movie, which is your favourite?
It is the same attention I give to both. I cannot say I love one more than the other. I can’t just pick one because the passion I have for acting is the same as I have for music. This is for those that think I want to quit acting for music, no, there is nothing like that. Acting is forever with me; music is an added trait. It’s more of a case of an actor who doesn’t want to sit down and stay idle when he’s not on set and goes to the studio so that things can keep happening.
How do you juggle the two knowing they are time-consuming?
I have been able to do that. I know what I want to do clearly with music; it is an additional business kind of. Everybody knows me as an actor. We have everything properly scheduled. Once I am not on-location filming, it means I am in the studio recording. Once I am not working, I am doing shows.
Having been a part of a number of projects powered by Netflix, what do you think the platform still needs to do to help the Nigerian movie industry get to the next level?
I think Netflix is doing what it ought to do. Netflix has been doing really well and we all can see the results of the impact it has had on the industry.
Why does it seem as though the industry still struggles to meet up with the standard?
I think we need to organise ourselves more. I have to tell you for a fact that Nollywood as a whole needs better organisation. Netflix has already done what we need from them. We now have to get serious about how we approach this platform and what we bring to the table. We have to honour this platform and do things the right way.
Do you think Nollywood needs funding or a better structure?
You need to see how Netflix handles its job and gleans from it. From the funding to production and costume, it is top-notch. You don’t have to cut corners or paint the picture the way it is not. With the funding the platform is providing, Nollywood needs to be better organised to get the best out of it.