By Ayo Onikoyi
From April 21, 2021 Africa Magic premiered a new television series titled “Baby Drama”. It is a drama that revolves around the lives of five women who deal with the reality of how a baby or – lack of one – affect their lives.
The new series which airs from 9pm on Africa Magic Showcase (DStv channel 151) features some of the finest talents in Nollywood such as Bimbo Akintola, Joseph Benjamin, Bikiya Graham-Douglas, Wole Ojo, Uru Eke and Nollywood newbies, Anee Icha and Nengi Adoki.
Potpourri interviews 6 of the leading characters in the series, unveiling their characters in the light of childlessness in a marriage, taking into account the family pressures and perception of the society at large
Many believe marriage worthless without child – Bimbo Akintola
Veteran actress Bimbo Akintola plays the lead role of a woman desperate for a child in Baby Drama. Beyond her character she gives her candid opinion on a childless marriage.
How will you describe your character in Baby Drama and what should your fans expect?
My character is someone desperate for a child after many years in marriage. As African women, we feel a culmination of that partnership is to bring forth a child that will carry on the name. These are traditional beliefs, and my character has found herself in a difficult situation. We see her struggles, her torment and how easy it is to become warped by something we want so passionately.
What advice will you give families facing the cultural and societal pressure of delayed childbirth?
There isn’t any advice you can give to anyone going through such a situation; it is a very sensitive one. The way we were brought up in Africa is to believe a woman’s job in marriage is procreation. Many people believe that a woman is worthless without a man, and marriage is worthless without a child.
How well is Africa Magic telling authentic Nigerian and African stories?
Africa Magic has consistently told African stories. They have satisfied a particular niche by giving the audience a taste of African content that reflects our culture and tradition.
Struggling couple with conception need more support, says Bikiya Graham-Douglas
Bikiya Graham-Douglas holds brief for childless couples in “Baby Drama”, and examines both family and societal pressures. She gives her opinion too.
In what ways do you think the Baby Drama will connect with young couples, especially those with the type of issue as your character, Esosa?
Trying for a child in marriage is very difficult for the couple. I have had people very close to me struggle with this, and it takes a toll on them and their relationships. I believe couples will connect with Baby Drama and Esosa as she is telling their story. They will understand her desperation and will also empathize with her. Hopefully, our society can be more supportive of families struggling with conception.
What would you say is the most interesting thing about your character?
The most interesting thing about Esosa is that she is full of surprises and will do things you don’t see her doing. She is also a very compassionate woman, not a pushover. I can relate to her qualities.
How will you say Africa Magic is changing the Nigerian TV & movie narrative?
Africa Magic is the widest, most authentic, and revered platform telling African stories and promoting African culture. Africa Magic has contributed tremendously to the development of film and TV by being one of the biggest employers of labour in the industry. Africa Magic is building the capacity of industry players, while also giving opportunities for African stories to be told in African voices. I can attest to how working with Africa Magic has contributed to my career growth.
Marriage is a partnership – Okey Uzoeshi
Nollywood actor Okey Uzoeshi talks about marriage and its challenges, in view of his role in Baby Drama.
How would you describe your character Seye Adeyemi?
Seye is a well-to-do, young professional, happily married to a very modern woman. He is easygoing and has the same aspirations as the average ambitious young man. He believes he is a good husband to his wife. He loves her and wants her happiness. But some of her choices leave him wondering about the personal cost of her happiness, and his importance to her.
What advice can you give a man who is ready to have children when his wife is not ready to have kids?
Three words: “work it out”
I know that when emotions are involved things are not so cut and dry, but I can only offer what I think is a simple solution. Marriage, they say, is a partnership. And the word partnership does not exist in a vacuum. There is also no partnership without compromise, and compromise doesn’t happen without communication. Not to belabour the point, compromise and communicate. And for the love of God, don’t go into the conversation expecting to have your way.
We live in society where women are scrutinized – Nengi Adoki
In most marriages, from the perspective of the African setting, the failure or success of any marriage is heaped on the woman. Baby Drama brings the best of Nollywood actress, Nengi Adoki to fore. She speaks on travails of women in a childless marriage
Can you tell a little about yourself and your journey to becoming one of Nigeria’s top-rated actresses?
I want to say thank you because I hear the compliments. If I had to sum it up, I’ll say just find people you know. So, it’s not sounding like a bit of advice. What I did was to find like-minded people. People who were committed to telling the best stories about Nigeria. And when I say the best, it doesn’t necessarily mean the good stuff,
I mean the good, the bad, and the ugly. So I found people who are creating these stories as honestly and as truthfully as they can and I made awesome projects with them.
Sometimes, I’ve had to reach out to people who I thought were doing awesome things, and other times I had to audition when roles pop up and I felt like they were right up my alley in terms of the story. I also tried to pick very challenging roles and projects. I’m very thankful for God and supportive family and friends who are around me constantly, cheering me on. So yeah, that’s my journey in a nutshell.
You have featured in many Nigerian movies and television series, what makes Baby Drama different from other projects that you appeared in?
Well, I think it’s about the story. I don’t think I’ve ever done a story like this before. When I pick the roles I want to do, I’m very concerned about what the story is and what we’re trying to say. The character I play in the series, Miss Kese Ajayi, I’ve never met her before. So, it was very challenging in the right ways, and I think that’s what makes Baby Drama special. It’s the storyline and the fact that it was a unique character for me to play. The viewers will love it.
Tell us the most interesting about your character, and why viewers should be excited to watch the new series.
So, the most exciting thing about Kese Ajayi, is that she is unconventional in a very refreshing way. She’s a very young, well-brought-up Nigerian woman just like any other young single woman. She’s making a way in the world and she hasn’t let anything she’s going through stop her.
When things go wrong in Kese’s life, she uses them to get an advantage and play to her strength. Kese isn’t living her life for anybody else, she’s living life for herself. This speaks to some of the broader discussion around women in society. We still very much live in a society where women are scrutinized for a lot of their social, political, and economic decisions. So Kese is someone who has broken free from all of those things. And I love playing women like Kese. She’s unconventional in a way that you don’t see coming because she blends in very well, but at the same time, she’s a bit of a rebel.
More harm comes from romantic relationships devoid of privacy – Anee Icha
Anee Icha who plays Iye Adeyemi in the series “Baby Drama” is a carefree, tough woman who nurses a past and desperate about her present. She speaks on outside influences on the sacred institution of marriage.
Tell us about your character Iye Adeyemi; what should your fans expect?
Well, Iye Adeyemi is the type of woman most people would classify as a Margaret Thatcher, no-nonsense, iron lady sort. I find that is mostly the way Type A, career-oriented, upwardly mobile women are branded ( erroneously so, in my opinion).
Iye is an intelligent, talented financial analyst, and when we meet her in our story, she is at the top of her game; but that’s only Iye on the surface. However, when you delve deeper into her person, we find that for all Iye’s brusqueness and seeming disregard for her husband and sisters feelings, she’s frightened of her past trauma. She is also scared of letting any semblance of that past ruin the carefully crafted life she has made by throwing her whole self into her career. She’s not willing to face it, and that may cost her sorely.
Viewers should expect to be irritated by her choices. Let’s face it, this is Nigeria and we still are very much a patriarchal society. They should expect to see a different side of Anee; a more serious side. (most people are accustomed to the comic, lighthearted, playful side of my acting range) and I’m excited for them to experience me in other ways.
What advice will you offer newlyweds facing societal pressures to have children early?
Tell everyone to drink water and mind their business. More harm than good comes from romantic relationships not being allowed their privacy and autonomy. People should leave couples alone and let them figure out the dynamics of their relationship themselves. There is no one size fits all approach or a guide that as all the steps for what exactly a relationship should be. I think you get my point. A relationship between 2 people should be exactly that; between the – two people in the relationship. Shikena.
How will you say Africa Magic is changing the Nigerian TV and movie narrative with the addition of this new series?
I’d say Africa Magic is changing the Nigerian TV movie narrative by telling stories that are daring and necessary, and Baby Drama is unreservedly both. Entertainment is good; without it, I don’t think the human race would have lasted this long. However, we must use this medium that has unfettered access to the human psyche to educate and enlighten people. At the very least, it is our job to strike up critical conversations around topics that people struggle with in reality but can’t find representation for in the programming presented to them. I’m glad that we are coming to a time in television and entertainment where we’re bold enough to push the envelope, to tell those “taboo” stories, to represent real life as it is; dysfunction and all. That’s a very good place for us in the industry to be in.
Our society should accept other processes of childbirth – Joseph Benjamin
Popular Nollywood actor, Joseph Benbjanmin questions the conventional way of having children, making a case for alternative means. He brings his A game in the new series “Baby Drama” which explores childlessness in marriage in the African setting.
How will Baby Drama enlighten Nigerians on family pressures surrounding childbirth?
There is a need for constant education and sensitization on some of these very sensitive topics. Over time it almost became a stigma if you were childless/barren. Our society is yet to accept that there are other ways to become a parent other than the conventional process of childbirth.
Baby Drama will take you through the pressure and trauma that the average woman faces because of childlessness. Some of these pressures are self-imposed because you bend to the whims of popular opinions or peer pressure. A popular opinion could be categorized under family pressure. Patterns like these see women give in to all manner of things all in the bid to have a child. Family plays a major role in helping our women. If they get support in these situations, it helps them balance the equation and not be swayed by the desire to please other people. It is a two-way street, but the woman is always to blame. What about the man? he also has a part to play in making it work. Overall, I believe Baby Drama will help in both highlighting these issues and educating people about how to handle them.
Tell us one interesting thing about your character and what viewers should look forward to?
Well, my character has been defined. He is the average Nigerian husband in terms of personality. I would say the focus should be on my interpretation of his character. What I will bring to the table, seeing that I’ve been out of the Nigerian creative space for a minute. This role/character will see me bring back my craft into the homes of my esteemed fans and viewers. I am excited to reconnect with the people.
How well is Africa Magic telling authentic Nigerian and African stories?
Over the years, they have maintained a standard. They have remained true to their cause which is to celebrate our culture, our worth and uniqueness. Africa Magic has done this through its interpretation of authentic African content. I look forward to them creating more Pan-African content.