Comic actor, Olaniyi Afonja, popularly known as Sanyeri is arguably the most sought after by movie producers in the Yoruba movie genre right now. Since he shot to limelight after releasing his hit movie, entitled, Opakan, the Oyo State born thespian has become the toast of many movie lovers, home and abroad.
A couple of weeks back, Ambali, as the talented role interpreter is also known, returned from his visit to Canada and United States of America.
ENCOMIUM Weekly took Sanyeri up on the purpose and success of the trip and much more when we cornered him at a movie location in Magodo, Lagos, on Friday, May 11, 2012.
How would you describe your career at the moment?
It is booming. I give thanks to Almighty God for what He is doing in my life and career.
It feels great but it’s not by my wisdom or power. It is a special honour from God because in the past few years, where was Sanyeri? Now, with the love of God, more producers and movie lovers are getting to identify with my style of comedy and I am getting good commendations from my fans.
That shows that they are really enjoying what I am doing. I am very happy about that but that doesn’t mean I should relent because I believe I still have a very long way to go.
How are you now coping with stardom?
That’s a very big question. My brother, it’s one thing to be at the top of whatever you’re doing but another thing that’s more important is how you’re going to sustain it. Each time I wake up, fear grips me. At times I get confused, asking myself so many questions.
But I keep thanking God for He has always been with me. Coping with stardom is not an easy thing but what I ask from God always is wisdom. At times, you won’t know what could offend those admiring you, even among your colleagues. So, with humility and God first in everything I do since I was shot to limelight, divine favour has been my lot.
What were the things you used to do but now you can’t even move close to them?
A lot, I can’t just talk anyhow in public because a lot of people would want to hear what I want to say. I can’t just eat anyhow in public or even dress anyhow.
Everything has changed with stardom. But just like I said, I still need more of God’s wisdom to control what He has given me. Happentances in my life and career are beyond my imagination.
Now that your level has risen, what have you achieved?
A lot but I can’t start mentioning them on the pages of a news magazine. All I need is to continue thanking God for His mercies on me and my family. I may not be that rich but I am not a beggar. I am contented with what God has done for me but I am still praying for more.
Would you say God has been kind and wonderful to you?
What else do you want me to say? He has been more than kind and wonderful to me. He deserves praises all the time.
What is the next level concerning your career?
Higher level, of course. I can’t afford to disappoint my fans. I want to keep rising and rising. I believe the journey has just began. I want to be known across the country. I want a situation where the Hausa, Igbo and all other tribes would see me and say ‘This is Sanyeri’. I also want to be celebrated across the world, not only in Nigeria.
How do you cope with your female admirers now?
Not only female admires, men too. They are all my fans and I appreciate them all but I appreciate my wife the most.
How is your wife coping with your rising profile, especially knowing full well that women will be disturbing you on phones and all that?
(Laughs) My wife is an understanding woman. She understands the nature of my job. I appreciate her a lot and no one can take her place in my heart. She has always been with me. Where were those women you’re talking about when I was nobody? I don’t allow stardom to scatter my home.
I thank God for His mercies and protection over my family.
But some said Sanyeri is not a fine guy, how come women are admiring him?
That’s bull shit. Fine boy or no fine boy has no meaning to God. Whatever people may be saying has no meaning to me. Being handsome has nothing to do with success. It’s about God’s plan for your life. Whether or not I am a fine guy, it has nothing to do with the success of my career.
A lot of people are more handsome than I am but they are nowhere to be found today. Those that are admiring me, men or women know why and I pray God will continue to appreciate what I am doing.
A couple of weeks back, you returned from America, how would you describe the experience?
It was a fantastic experience, a very nice one. I thank God for everything. I never regretted going there. It was when I got to the US and Canada that I discovered how much they love me. I was shown great love and well treated. In fact, I was happy about the development in my life.
What was the purpose of the trip?
I went for my movie shoot and that’s Okola N’America. Then for a stage performance entitled, Sango. We did the performance in New York, Maryland, Houston, Texas, New Jersey and Dallas, Texas. I only shot my movie in New York and Maryland.
It was a very exciting experience for all of us because I wasn’t the only one, we were seven on the trip.
After US, where else did you visit?
I also went to Toronto, Canada where I spent about 10 days. All of us were also there for Sango stage performance and it was a huge success. Canada is a very nice place to visit.
Who was the brain behind the trip?
Thank you sir, it’s Mr. Tai Balofin that took us to the US. But for the trip to Canada, it was in conjunction with Mr. Yinka Farinde, who is based in Canada. I am happy for everything, my fans in Canada are also many and they were all happy seeing me.
When should your fans be expecting your new flick?
They should just give me sometime more. I have not finished shooting. I still want to shoot part of it in London and Nigeria. Very soon, I will be travelling to the UK by God’s grace.
What would you say makes you the hottest actor in the Yoruba movie genre at the moment?
I can’t answer that. It’s beyond me but I believe it’s the Lord’s doing. I can’t tell you I am the hottest or the best right now, there are still many others that are better and hotter than me in the industry but I give all the glory to Almighty God for where I am today.
This story was first published in Encomium Weekly on Tuesday, May 15, 2012