Acting Is My Life; I Dream and Live It.
Popular actor, director, and producer, Alhaji Abdul-Ganiyu Olayinka Quadri, a native of Oke Ola Oro in Kwara State was born on Lagos Island in the early 60s on September 6. He attended Saint Patrick Catholic Primary School, Lagos Island and Christ High School, Ebute Elefun.
Yinka Quadri has come a long way in the Yoruba sector of Nollywood, being one of the pioneers of the home video and has become a household name in the industry. He has featured in numerous movies, some of which include, Igberaga, Aje Meta, Owu Alantakun, Kadara Mi, Àsírí owó, Bolode o'ku,Egbin ara, Jénífà, Afefe ife, Taiwo Taiwo, Ekuro, Agbefo, Odun baku, 13th Day: Ojó ketàlá, Sababi, Kadara Mi, Kówópé, Maradona and N150 Million among several others.
On Sunday, April 27, 2014, Yinka Quadri will be Thirty Six years old in the industry. The event will also include the launch of his book titled “The Scent of A Legend”. He is also working on a yet to be titled movie that might also be lunched on the day of his celebration.
How did you get started in acting?
My journey into acting started since I was very young. Before I went into acting, I was running my father's business, so, my going into acting was borne out of passion. Though, my father never liked it since he wanted me to remain focused on the business. My parents never wanted me to be an actor. They discouraged me against it so much that I never allowed my father to know I was attending rehearsals then.
I quit school when I got to class three. This has got nothing to do with poverty, I opted out of school to learn business so that I could take over my dad's business even though he never encouraged me to drop out of school.
I joined my father's business in 1978. My father felt that rather than drop out of school just like that, I should go to Alhaji Lawal who's an architect to learn some form of handwork, which was an addition to acting. It was during this that I met one of my friends, Fatai Alabi. We joined forces because we liked the Theatre and were both inspired by the late Ade Love, Hubert Ogunde and Kola Ogunmola. We had a meeting at Moshalashi Street in Obalende and we took off from there.
Acting is my life; I dream it, I live it. I thank God that I chose the right path because I can say categorically that God has been so good to me and my family.
It still haunts me whenever I remember the fact that I dropped out of school. I don't regret dropping out though, because I have enjoyed every moment of my stay in the industry.
When exactly did you start acting?
My acting career dates back to April 27, 1978. That was the time I started acting and come April 27, 2014, I will be 36 years in the industry. Our theatre group was formed that same day which included myself, Apostle Biodun Majekodunmi a.k.a Baba Kekere, Fatai Alabi, popularly called Adekanbi, he is in the UK now, still practicing. Our group then was called Afopina Theatre. We gave it that name the same day we started. Then, we didn't have anybody training or mentoring us. We were later introduced to late Taiwo Olayinka, popularly known as Agbodorogun.
He now changed the outfit to Isale Oro Theatre Group. He trained us well, and taught us how theatre can be commercialised. It was when he led the group that we all learnt about radio and television programmes. We had a very popular TV serial in 1979, Agbodorogun on LTV 8, Lagos. That was why Olayinka was nicknamed Agbodorogun. But in April 1980, he decided to move on and left out group for us. We later reorganized and renamed our group Adetutu Theatre Group in 1980. Since then, we started rotating the leadership of the organization among ourselves. After Olayinka's tenure, I led the group from 1983 till 1986 until the theatre was transformed.
What about the famous Odunfa Caucus?
Odunfa as a caucus was formed in 1987. The Lagos State Council of Arts and Culture wanted to take its performing group to San Francisco, United States of America for a show. Coincidentally, about 80 per cent of my group members were among the entourage. At the same time, I also had a programme on LTV 8, which they were supposed to be part of. But I had no power to stop them from travelling to America for the performance.
It was at this period I met Rasaq Ajao a.k.a Araosan in his father's shop in Idumagbo, Lagos, very close to my father's shop. He then introduced himself to me as a theatre practitioner under the leadership of the late Leke Ajao (Konkosari), who was also based in Ebute Metta, Lagos. I told him all my group members who were supposed to feature in my TV serial had travelled to the US, and the programme must be aired. So, I asked if there was any way he could assist me. That was how he introduced me to Taiwo Hassan (Ogogo), Abbey Lanre, Fatai Odua and others who were his friends who had their own group called Odua Theatre.
They took part in about four TV serials and we started working together as colleagues and friends since then. We used to assemble at Rasaq Ajao's house on Odunfa Street, and because of that people gave us the name, Odunfa Caucus. That was how the identity became permanent.
Strangely, the group all came together and agreed that I should lead them. That was the reason everybody is addressing me as the chairman of the caucus till date.
What was your first home video?
That would be Ekun and it was released in 1989. It was the late Alade Aromire's movie. I must state that I was the second person to bring out a home video in Nigeria. That was even before Kenneth Nnebue released the popular Igbo movie, Living in Bondage. He started out with Yoruba movies. Fatai Adetayo (Lalude) and I used to work for Nnebue as his pioneer actors. I can humbly say that I featured in 23 out of the 27 Yoruba movies he released. It was after these movies that he did Living in Bondage. With that release, the Igbo part of Nollywood claim that they pioneered home videos in Nigeria, which is not true.
What are the regular challenges the movie industry currently facing?
Any ambitious man can't run away from challenges. We go through a lot to make movies, to bring out the best for the people to see, but it is disgusting when we don't get back the rewards for our hard work. Lack of structure and sales network has become the bane of good movies. Piracy is eating deep into our intellectual works and it has regrettably leaving a lot of hardworking producers disillusioned.
What is the greatest sacrifice you have ever made to get to this level?
You know that if you are engaged in something you love, there is nothing you won't do to perfect it. Fortunately for me, when I started, with little gains in the trade, I was able to get money to fund my passion from another source. In 1986, I sold a 504 car to produce a movie, Ojiji with Prince Jide Kosoko. In 1992, I sold a whole house to produce another movie, Oloruka - this was when home video came. But because my family is well to do, I didn't really feel the economic constraints as such and I thank God, today, I am one of those reaping from the industry.
Your job is no doubt very tedious and time consuming how do you make out time to relax?
I love to relax a lot when I am less busy. When I am not working, I love to be in my office playing draught with my friends. And once in a while, I travel abroad for vacation.
What advice do you have for your colleagues as well as the up and coming ones in the industry?
The future of the industry is really bright and if we improve in terms of production, scripting and technology. I would advise all of us to keep up the good work, be dedicated and loyal in this business and above all, be prayerful.
Is there something that makes you feel sad each time you remember?
The day my father died. This is not because he died but because he died when I needed him so much. I don't even want to talk about it.
If you had not been an actor, what would have been?
If I had not been an actor, I would have probably been one of the most influential businessmen around. The business aspect of my life remains unmoved. I am grateful to Allah.
He was honoured with the title of Agba Akin Of Oro Land at a ceremony, which took place in his hometown, Oro by the traditional ruler, Oba Abdul Rafiu Olaniyi Ajiboye.
Keep on keeping on! »
Jackie Appiah »