An African City was a huge TV sensation in Accra and among the Ghanaian diaspora. Time Out Accra caught up with the director Nicole Amarteifio for an exclusive online interview. Here’s what she had to say
1. When writing the early scripts who was your intended audience?
Young Africans whom believe that poverty, famine and civil war are not the only stories to be told about the continent. I also wanted to encourage young Africans abroad to return home – that's the Marcus Garvey in me.
2. Were episode ideas taken from your own real life experiences?
Yes, many scenes are a reflection of what has either happened to me or to women or returnees that I know. For me, as soon as the character Nana Yaa (played by actress MaameYaa Boafo) arrives at the airport and heads to immigration, that scene pretty much sums up my life and my journey of self-identity. When she proudly displays her Ghanaian passport to the immigration officer and he exclaims in disbelief, "you're Ghanaian? You don't look or sound Ghanaian?" Yep, that's my life. But, the thing is - what is a Ghanaian supposed to look or sound like? Why are so many people always so ready to define others?
3. How many hits did the most popular episode get?
Our first episode has the most hits, but it is normal for the first episode of any web series to have the most hits. But I believe episode 7 on "condom etiquette" has a lot of hits comparable to other episodes. And, I completely understand that! This was an important episode for me in that I wanted us to have a real talk about the importance of condom use – but I still wanted to keep it entirely entertaining. And that episode is very entertaining!
4. The world the five characters live in is an elite one, do you think the majority of watchers can relate to what they see or is the idea of escapism and glamour more important?
I am a generation that grew up on shows like 90210...never did I hear anyone complain that this demographic of affluent teenagers did not reflect the 46.5 million people in the United States living in poverty. There are affluent and successful young professionals on the continent of Africa, their stories are valid and their presence should not be minimized just because there are people out there who feel Africa's story of poverty should be the only story worth telling.
5. Have you received serious offers yet to turn the Youtube series into a TV series?
Yes! Season One was bought by IrokoTV, EbonyLifeTV and Canal+ Afrique! And, we're still in talks with a few others about season one as well as for season two!
6. What kinds of shows are most popular in Ghana?
I once spent a weekend binge watching the entire seasons of 'Adam's Apples' by Shirley Frimpong-Manso. It is quite addictive!
7. Did you receive any bad press when first aired?
I wouldn't call it bad. There were certainly blogs or outlets that criticised the show and many of those criticisms are valid. At the same time, I do not have a TV background and this is a grassroots project with limited funding. So, with all that said, I think we got a lot right. In life, you have a dream and all you can do is try and try your best.