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Adeyinka in Riches – Bath Spa University

Graduate lands a lead role


Graduate Adeyinka Akinrinade lands a lead role in new ITV show Riches

Friday, 30 June, 2023

Bath Spa University BA (Hons) Performing Arts (now BA (Hons) Acting) graduate Adeyinka Akinrinade will star as “Alesha” in Riches, a new six-part family drama airing on ITV from 9:00pm on Friday 30 June.

The new British drama show was created by Abby Ajayi - one of the writers of the hit American legal thriller, How To Get Away With Murder. Riches follows Stephen Richards, a self-made man, who has built a cosmetics empire and has become a strong advocate for Black-owned businesses. After he has a heart attack, there is a fight for control over his empire and his family's secrets come to the forefront.

Adeyinka plays Alesha Richards, the first-born child from Stephen’s second marriage who has always been underestimated by her family, but has a burgeoning career as an Instagram beauty influencer. When she is given a key role in the family business, she finally has the power - and Adeyinka had the opportunity to bring this character to life in all her glory.

We caught up with Adeyinka to find out how she went from being a budding performer studying at Bath Spa University’s Newton Park campus, to a star who has featured in shows such as Top Boy, Grantchester, A Discovery of Witches and now, Riches. Read our interview to find out about her journey to small-screen success.

How did you react when you first found out you were cast in Riches? 

I found out about Riches when I was coming out of a hot yoga class. I finished a class and I had six missed calls – I thought this is either really good news or bad news.

My agent said, ‘You’ve been cast as Alesha in Riches!’ I absolutely broke down in tears in my car. I was so happy and so grateful. It’s been absolutely amazing on set. We’ve just bonded so much as a family. It literally feels like we’re brothers and sisters. It's been such a lovely experience.

What experience did you gain at Bath Spa University that is relevant to what you're doing now?

I learnt so much whilst studying at Bath Spa, but the biggest thing was how varied the course was. As well as developing and learning about ourselves as actors, we also got to learn about other roles in the industry. It was brilliant to have a go at behind the scene roles, such as producing, set design or camera operating (to name a few) because these were jobs I didn’t have much of an idea of experience of. But it was so insightful because it was my degree that made me realise I also wanted to go into Creative Producing.

As soon as I graduated, I actually didn’t go into acting right away. I went straight into being a Creative Producer. I produced my first short film called ’NĀCA’ with some friends who had also just graduated and moved back to our hometown.

I then went on to be the Festival Director of the British Urban Film Festival for a few years. Here I programmed short and feature films nationally and internationally. I’ve never watched so many films in one sitting before! It was amazing getting to see the wide range of films that were submitted to the festival. I went on to develop another short film that was funded by the British Film Institute called ‘The Lost Land Girl’.

Then I started to miss acting and went back to pursuing that passion which was when my agent first saw me perform and signed me. Since then I’ve performed at The National Theatre, Orange Tree Theatre, Theatre 503 and Paines Plough Roundabout.

As a performer, the thing that inspires me is the world in which we live. That sounds so cliche, but that's where we get our stories from, the people we meet, the places we go, the experiences we have. That's where stories are made. So I really make an effort to chat to people when I can, experience new things often and use that in my storytelling whether that be as an actor or producer.

Can you give us an example of a week in your life?

I feel very lucky, my agents are absolutely incredible and have supported me so much over the years, but a week in an actor’s shoes is never the same. Your journey is so up and down, sometimes you can get loads of auditions in one go, and other times it can be a bit quieter.

I make sure I keep myself busy by going to acting classes, reading loads of plays and scripts and watching theatre shows. But it’s also important to do non-acting things as well, so I always make sure to go to the gym regularly. I absolutely love cooking and baking, so I’m always attempting to bake something new - but it doesn’t always turn out like the recipe!

I’m not just an actor, I produce as well, so in-between auditioning and acting jobs I work as a freelance producer. At the moment I’m developing two short films and a theatre show.

Is there anyone you'd like to thank for helping you achieve your ambitions so far?

The list of people I would like to thank is near to endless, from my agents to my friends, they have been an incredible support system. If I had the time I would list each one personally and say why they are amazing, but I’d actually like to thank Chris Jury and Sam Grogan who were my lecturers while I was at Bath Spa. I learnt so much from Chris about the film and tv industry and he actually inspired me to become a producer. Sam really pushed us as actors during the first year, and I learnt so much about myself as an actor and I definitely think it made me better because of it. So I’d really like to thank them in particular as they definitely made an impact on my career.

Do you have any advice for a budding performer currently studying at Bath Spa?

Be brave and open to trying a variety of things while you’re studying. Say yes (within means) to things, even if you’ve never done it before or don’t know much about it, just dive in. University is the place to try, fail and play. It’s okay to get things wrong, you’re learning. As long as you give it go, you never know where you might end up. I thought I was strictly going to be an actor and just study acting, but I left Bath Spa University knowing so much about producing and now do both. Your opportunities really are limitless.

You can watch the trailer for Riches on YouTube and see Adeyinka’s IMDb page for a full list of her TV appearances. You can also follow Adeyinka on Instagram @adeyinkaakinrinade.

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