Adebayo Oluwarotimi Akinfemi was born in the small town of Ilesa, in Nigeria’s Osun province. His father was a house painter. His mother sold beans, rice and yams at the local market. Before immigrating to Canada, Bayo Akinfemi earned a B.A. in Performing Arts from the University of Ilorin, and made his living as an actor in the entertainment industry, known as Nollywood due to the fact that Lagos, Nigeria, is home to the third-largest film production centre in the world. After trying unsuccessfully to immigrate the year before, Akinfemi arrived as a refugee claimant, joining Bola Olutola, his Canadian-born wife, in 1998.
He studied film and television production at the Toronto Film School, and started working in the Canadian business as a production assistant. He acquired several years of practical experience as an assistant director on numerousHollywood feature films, television programs and commercials before he started making his own films. As an actor, he has appeared in the series Blue Murder, Human Cargo (mini-series), This Is Wonderland, The Border and Heartland. His short film directing credits include Eye and I,A Novel Ending,Behind Closed Doors,My Little PackageandDays Away. He directed his first feature-length movie, Scoundrels of Faith, in 2008 in Nigeria. His latest film, the U.S.-made Paparazzi: Eye in the Dark, which he directed and starred in, won best picture and best director honours at the 2011 Nollywood & African Film Critics’ Awards. It was also an official selection at the 2012 Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles. Akinfemi has been nominated for a Gemini Award and an ACTRA Best Actor Award in 2004 for the lead role in Human Cargo, and he was also nominated for a Gemini in 2008 for his portrayal of a Sudanese warlord in The Border.
His theatre credits include the work of many African playwrights such as Zulu Sofola’s Wedlock of the Gods, Wole Soyinka’s The Trials of Brother Jero, Elechi Amadi’s Peppersoup, and Our Husband Has Gone Mad Again and The Gods Are Not to Blame, both by Ola Rotimi.Akinfemi is a member of Toronto’s AfriCan Theatre Ensemble, founded in 1998.