Yinka Quadri, has no doubt, carved a niche for himself in the movie industry. He has been on top of his game for over 25 years. The versatile actor speaks with SEGUN ADEBAYO at his Ebute-Metta residence, where he ventilates his mind on the state of ANTP, his view about life among others. Excerpts:
HOW did you begin your acting career?
I can’t actually say how the whole thing started but the story of my life has been so interesting. I have been through a lot in life because the journey has been rough and smooth, so to say. I was born in the early 60’s. I attended St. Catholic School, Idumagbo for my primary education and proceeded to Christ High School, Ebute Elefun. When I got to class three, I dropped out of school but this has got nothing to do with poverty. It was not connected with money because my dad was a very influential man, and when I say influential, you can imagine what that means those days. I opted out of school to learn business so that I could take over my dad’s business
Were you his only son, or why did he encourage you to drop out of school?
I was not the only son in the family but for whatever reason he had in mind, he didn’t want my other brothers to take over. So, because of childishness and ignorance, I opted out of school to learn the basics of the business. It was not as if he wanted me to drop out of school for business, it was something I wanted to do.
How did you go about handling the business after learning the ropes?
After I took over the business, he was so impressed with my achievement that till he died, he was always praying that I would be great in whatever I lay my hands upon. So, I believe that those prayers from my father, coupled with my passion, sustained me. Despite the fact that my education was not sound enough, I have been able to achieve a lot, by God’s grace.
Don’t you regret dropping out of school at that time when your mates were there?
Initially, I felt inferior because I was very young at that time and because in those days, going to school was like winning a visa lottery. After a while I got used to it and today, I can say it anywhere that I don’t regret dropping out of school, but it still haunts me whenever I remember.
At what point in your life did the passion for acting set in?
I had the passion for acting before I went into the business and I has been developing myself internally and emotionally because I dared not tell my dad that I would go into acting. Before I went into acting, I was controlling my father’s business, which was worth millions of naira. So, I will say that I went into acting for the passion. Though, my dad never liked it because he wanted me to remain focused on the business eventually he supported me when he saw my tenacity growing without bounds.
You are one of the stakeholders in the movie industry today, particularly the ANTP, what’s your take on the state of the association?
The association is growing everyday. We all know that we cannot stop development in any association or individual. Whatever you see in our association today, whether good or bad, is as a result of our development process. I cannot conveniently say that we don’t have our shortcomings, but I believe that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a step forward.
But many people have argued that the elders have not done enough to find a lasting solution to the crisis rocking your association?
Our association is a big family and we all have to come together to address the issue. I don’t believe that what is happening to the association is a peculiar problem. If you look at the country today, virtually every sector is having one problem or the other. This is not unconnected with the fact that we have to accommodate as many as possible to progress and as we are progressing, we cannot run away from problems. I am one of the elders in the association, and I can assure you that we are taking pragmatic steps to address the issue.
What has been delaying the ANTP’s election. Is it true that Jide Kosoko wants to remain the president despite the termination of his tenure?
We’ll conduct another election very soon; it is just going to take a while before we come out with a new president. As regards Jide Kosoko, I don’t know if he wants to remain the president after his tenure. Why would he want to return? I don’t believe that. He wants peace to reign in the association, I don’t think he wants to do that and even if he wants to do it, he has not told me about it. But I know he’s a gentle man.
But his administration has come under serious knocks by some members; he was also alleged of not running the office well.
I don’t know about that, he has done his best for the association. I can’t stand here to criticise him. Whether he did well or not is left to the members, not me.
But you should be able to talk on behalf of others…
No, why should I? We are all entitled to our opinions. What if I tell you something now and tomorrow another person comes out to say it is not true. I don’t know of others, they should speak for themselves.
You seem to have reduced the number of acting roles you take, as you are hardly seen in home videos, compared to some years back, why?
I have reached a level in my life where I should not just take any script that comes my way. By the grace of God I have lived a comfortable life till date, I don’t believe in rush-ing to loca-tions to feature in every film because I want to live well. I am comfortable with what I have been able to achieve and I thank God for that. Believe me, I will be acting as special guest on set and transform into a big time producer, because I believe there is no age limit and there is limited stress in being a producer. I just took some time out to relax and pave way for the upcoming ones to grow and learn their lines well.
Sometimes ago, you were alleged to have fueled the dissolution of Saheed Balogun’s marriage to Fathia, what actually went wrong?
I don’t know anything about that; in fact, I am one of those who tried to make sure the marriage did not crash but there was nothing more or less I could do to salvage the situation when it was getting out of hands.
But he accused Odunfa caucus of ruining his marriage and you happen to be the leader of that caucus?
I am hearing this for the first time. How can you say something that has no element of truth in it? I don’t know anything about his crashed marriage.
What’s your relationship with your friend, Ogogo like, how have you been able to live without a clash?
He’s my friend and we understand each other very well. I have known him for many years and we have never had any reason to raise our voices against each other. I believe our coming together was the will of God. We are thinking of holding a celebration of our friendship one day and we have had the chance to sit and talk over it. I can tell you that he’s a wonderful friend.
How did you feel when it was argued that his illness was connected to drug trafficking?
Honestly, I was outraged. As far as am concerned, his illness had nothing to do with hard drugs. Let me tell you that even when the going was very tough for him, he never partook in any illicit act, let alone now that God has blessed him. I don’t like the way our people react to issues sometimes. I told him that it is the price you have to pay for being a celebrity.
If you say Ogogo was not involved in drug trafficking, how would you explain Wunmi’s case, it was widely reported that she was caught in the act and these two are members of your caucus?
Wunmi’s case was an unfortunate incident and I felt so bad about it. She was just not contented with what she had and she has regretted her action. If you see her now, you will know that she is now a totally reformed person. We really felt bad about the ugly incident, it was highly disgraceful but it had nothing to do with our caucus.
What is the greatest sacrifice you have ever made to get to this level?
You know that if you are engaged in something for the love of it, 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. I remember in 1986, I sold a 504 car to produce a movie, Ojiji with Prince Jide Kosoko. In 1992, 1 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.
With what you have been able to achieve in the industry, would you say you are successful?
I am successful as far as this profession is concerned; I am one of the few that have benefitted from this industry. Despite the fact that I am not educated, I have three children studying overseas, I have a fleet of cars and I know it won’t stop there by God’s grace. My prayer to God now is that he should help me so that I can complete my house and move in before the year runs out.
How have you been able to live a scandal-free life?
Staying away from scandal has to do with being cautious with the people you relate with, where you are found and things like that.
Is there something that makes you feel sad each time you remember?
The day my father died. That was a day that has remained indelible in my heart. 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.