Olaniyi Afonja (born on 14th October 1974) is a 49-year-old Nigerian comedy actor and film producer well known as Sanyeri in his comic performances.
When it comes to Yoruba Nollywood comedians, Olaniyi Afonja has been named one of the funniest actors in the industry. He has been very active and relevant in the entertainment industry for over two decades. Some of his popular movies include Omo University, Blackout, The Cock-Tale, Ewon Ife, etc. He started acting in 1992 and, since then, has appeared in more than 100 films, many of which are box office hits.
Olaniyi Afonja is a Native of Oyo State
He was born Olaniyi Mikail Afonja on the 14th of October 1974 into a family of Yoruba descent in the Bola area of Oyo town, Oyo State, Nigeria. Olaniyi is the first child of his parents, but the number of siblings he has is not known. Further details about his parents and family background are not public knowledge. He became popular with the name Sanyeri after he starred in a comedy movie with the same title, Sanyeri.
Growing up in his hometown, Olaniyi attended St. Michael Primary School, Òkè-èbó, Oyo State. After that, he moved to Durbar Grammar School, Oyo Town, Oyo State, where he completed his secondary education. Olaniyi did not acquire a university education but stopped at O’ level to pursue her passion for acting.
Olaniyi Afonja Took Off His Acting Career in 1992
From childhood, Olaniyi had a passion for acting and did not hesitate to pursue it. In 1992, he started by featuring in stage plays in his village. He would go to different villages and towns in Oyo State to act, and he did that for a period of three years. During the time, he also joined a theatre group that was introduced to him by one of his friends.
Then, in 1996, he moved to Lagos in order to brush up on his skills and become better in the field. In Lagos, Olaniyi continued training under the tutelage of the late Oluseyi Adeoye. Actor Olaniyi noted that his career beginnings were really not an easy journey. One of the major challenges he faced was financial constraints, but with the passion and determination he has for acting, he was able to get to where he is today.
Olahiyi’s outstanding acting skills and ability to interpret roles have established him as one of the most famous Yoruba actors. He also got a major breakthrough in the industry in 2009 after he featured in a commercial advert for Globacom in Lagos. Though he mostly plays comic roles in movies, Olaniyi Afonja has performed many roles that are not comedies, such as in Abuke Oshin by Yinka Laoye.
He is also a Filmmaker
Olaniyi has diversified into movie production. He started producing in 2004 and has since produced a good number of movies. His debut production was Ọkan eni, and some of his other works include Aina Orosun, Opa kan, Okala l’America, Oro Olọrun, Adaba, Asiwaju, Atiba, and Saworo, produced in 2019.
In an interview he granted in 2020, the actor disclosed that he would really wish to go back to school. Speaking further, Olaniyi stated that his educational background had hindered him a lot. In his words, “No matter how successful you are, education will make it better”.
Meanwhile, he revealed that he has a teacher who teaches him how to speak the English Language. The actor acknowledged that people accept his brand, but it could have been a bigger brand if he was educated. However, Olaniyi said that he also takes on English-speaking roles in Nollywood but will also be a Yoruba man in the movies and would mostly mix Yoruba and English, or better still, pidgin.
Olaniyi Afonja is Married with Two Children
Olaniyi Afonja is happily married to his wife, Hawawu Omolara Afonja. The couple tied the knot in 2007, and the union has been blessed with two children – Boluwatife and AbdulSamad Olasunkanmi. The actor met his wife in 2004 at the National Theatre and immediately developed an interest in her. According to him, he knew right away that he would love to have her as his wife.
Hawawu had come to watch his first movie Ọkan Eni which was showing that day. So, he walked up to where she was seated and jokingly told her that she was beautiful. Even though she ignored him at first, Olaniyi proceeded to request her phone number, but she told him that she didn’t have a phone. But Olaniyi would not give up, and because of his persistence, Hawawu gave him her mother’s number.
At the end of that day, he called the number several times, and Hawawu’s mom would always pick up to say that Hawawu was not around or she was running an errand for her. However, on a particular day, the woman had to tell him the truth. She said her daughter had always been with her all the times he called, but she didn’t want to speak with him.
Olaniyi had no option but to plead with her to help him appeal to her daughter to speak with him, and she promised to do so. Eventually, Hawawu started taking his calls. Love happened, and the rest became history. According to Olaniyi, they did only the traditional rites as he did not have enough money to throw a big wedding at that time.
Olaniyi Afonja’s wife and children are based in Canada, and according to the actor, he relocated them out of the country because he does not want his children to pass through the same rough condition as he did while growing up. Their exact years of birth are not known, but Boluwatife celebrates his birthday every 29th of October while Olasunkanmi, on the 22nd of every May.