Tolga Akcayli

Last updated
Tolga Akcayli
Born15 April 1993 (1993-04-15) (age 29) [1]
Hendon, London, UK
NationalitySaint Vincent and the Grenadines
CitizenshipSaint Vincent and the Grenadines
Education New York Film Academy
  • Director
  • producer
  • writer
Years active2018–present
    Julia Akcayli
    (m. 2016)
Children1, Leyla Akcayli
  • Beverley Gunn-Akcayli
  • Tansal Akcayli

Tolga Aslan Akcayli (born 15 April 1993) is a Vincentian film director and Olympic swimmer of Turkish descent. Tolga is known for his success with an unusual film production strategy. He convinced student peers from New York Film Academy to fly to Barbados to make a feature film with no upfront payments but instead to receive shares of the profits earned. As a result, the film Too Lickrish, which he wrote and directed, was completed, secured international awards, and had global theatrical distribution. It is currently available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video.


Early life

Tolga was born in London, England, to a Vincentian Mother, Beverley Gunn-Akcayli, and a Turkish Father, Tansal Akacayli. He lived the first six years of his life in Istanbul, Turkey, but in 1999 Istanbul suffered destructive earthquakes, killing over 40,000 people during the Izmit Earquake (1999). His mother, being from a small island of 100,000 people, was not used to such catastrophe. So his parents decided to return to the Caribbean, where they lived back and forth between St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Barbados. Tolga spent most of his early youth organizing plays and filming short stories with his siblings and friends on his father's camcorder.


Tolga went into studying Law at the Barbados Community College where he gained the college's attention from winning several mock trials and was asked to design new ones, creating elaborate scenarios and arguments that are still being used in exam papers to this day. However, he decided Law wasn't for him. He took a leap of faith and ignored the adage that lingered over him all his life, "a career in the film industry is not realistic in the Caribbean," and enrolled for a course at the New York Film Academy.


When Tolga completed the filmmaker's course at NYFA, he convinced his classmates to come down to Barbados to attempt to make a feature film with no upfront payments but instead agreements in shares of the profits they'd earn. Five months later, they were all in Barbados filming Too Lickrish, an award-winning comedy feature film that had international theatrical distribution, running for six consecutive weeks in cinemas.

Too Lickrish earned nominations at the New York International Film Festival for "Best Fiction Film," making it a finalist. Too Lickrish was also nominated by the Film Festival International Group, and won "Best Comedy Feature" at their 2020 festival held in Nice, south of France.

Tolga aims to establish a production company that creates narrative, documentary, and TV series that focus on Caribbean stories, culture, and history. Tolga believes it will create channels for international revenue while exporting Caribbean art, culture, and history to be distributed worldwide.

Having learned and gained experience from his first feature film, Tolga is currently developing and seeking funding for a new feature film project with high commercial value and Caribbean. Cultural recognition.


Tolga represented St. Vincent and the Grenadines in competitive swimming, specializing in 50 m freestyle and butterfly events.

2011 Pan American Games

He competed at the 2011 Pan American Games, which took place in Guadalajara, Mexico.

2011 World Aquatics Championships

Tolga competed in Shanghai, China, at the 2011 World Aquatics Championships where he won his heat in the 50M freestyle, gaining international exposure on ESPN Sports.

London 2012 Olympics

Tolga qualified to represent Saint Vincent and the Grenadines at the Swimming at the 2012 Summer Olympics – Men's 50 metre freestyle at the 2012 Summer Olympics held in London, England, and was ranked 45th out of the 300 swimmers.

2012 FINA World Swimming Championships

In Istanbul, Turkey, Tolga competed at the 2012 world championships where we won his heat, gaining interest in Turkish media for his unique mix of being Caribbean/Turkish.

Tolga has since retired his swimming career to pursue filmmaking.

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