From Play to Portfolio: A Voice Actor’s Personal Journey to Recognition

From Play to Portfolio: A Voice Actor’s Personal Journey to Recognition

Yinka Olatunbosun

There was something oddly familiar about his voice. When Remi Olutimayin finally became more audible on the phone, his story unpacked bits of his life and career. Mostly revolving around his newly acquired international recognition occasioned by his voiceover work on the animation short film Ajaka: Lost in Rome, the conversation was lengthy, and time didn’t seem enough.

Born 46 years ago in Lagos, Olutimayin grew up in the VHS era where “dubbing” was almost every child’s favourite pastime. “One of my best friends while growing up was the television,” he disclosed. “Also, I have been reading early. And I’d been watching a lot of narration cartoons, though that narrate children’s stories and things like that. The day I learned how to record with my father’s radio cassette recorder when I figured out how to work that mechanism, that’s when I started playing around with voice over.”

He didn’t realise that he was laying the building blocks for a well-rounded career in the future. As a young, avid reader, he began poring over storybooks at ages five and six and would record his voice-like characters from the books. This innocent pastime was growing into a big dream. Then came higher learning days at Babcock University, where he studied mass communication. His rich, deep voice was so remarkable that one day he got called for a voiceover job.

This happened in 2002. Olutimayin was then a part two student, inexperienced and open-minded to possibilities. He had found something interesting to do despite the fact that he doesn’t like to socialise.

Between that time and now, Olutimayin had worked in advertising as a copywriter, voice director and actor in advertisements and movies. He had dabbled into banking, been a radio producer and even took on editorial work with a magazine. 

Standing on the world’s stage to be recognised for his voiceover work is indeed nature’s marvel. In 2023, the voice actor won the SOVAS Award for Outstanding Animation Character—Film or Television Best African Voiceover for his role in Ajaka: Lost in Rome. The award, which has been given to voiceover work in Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, and Japanese, so in Mandarin, Japanese commercials, instructional videos, and websites, launched the African Voice Over Award category for the first time in 2023.

“The project itself took a while but I was impressed because it was a collaboration between Nigerian and foreign studios. For this one, I happened to be a bit more hands on for which I am grateful. I made a lot of friends and I hope these will be life-long friendships.”

He had handled a cast of 60 for an audio book series, but nothing came close to the level of professionalism experienced in the award-winning animation short film.“What this award means to me is that there is a new standard set in storytelling,” he said.

Olutimayin had lived on the autism spectrum for 40 years before he was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. “You know the pop culture hit, Big Bang Theory? One of the characters had Asperger’s. There was a time I was oblivious to people making fun of me. The best way to protect myself was to recognise if I was going to be the butt of a joke.”

He had become an autism advocate upon the realisation that the society he grew up in would easily stigmatise persons on the spectrum. This is his own way of improving the lives and opportunities for growth for autistic persons.

At 40, he got married and now has three children. He said he couldn’t take credit for everything. His friends helped him to find the love of his life and build a home.

As the conversation wound up reflecting on the burgeoning nature of Nigerian animation, he argued that it is far from being called an industry yet since most of the players are individual creatives trying to make the art.

“The characters don’t have sweeping movements. The character is not completely still. Natural movement is a recent development. In the earlier years of animation even in the western world, it was the storytelling that mattered, not the graphics or images.”

Citing advertising gurus like Yinka Oduniyi and Yemi Taiwo as some of his mentors, his years in advertising had strengthened him for his current projects as a voice actor-voice director.

As he savours his latest win, Olutimayin is not letting up on new projects with 

Related Articles