Actrita ghaneza din New York, MaameYaa Boafo, a fost in Accra acum cateva luni, in timpul filmarilor serialului web, Un oras african . Mantse Aryeequaye a facut-o pe MaameYaa intr-o plimbare pe drumurile din spate ale orasului Dzorwulu, o suburbie din Accra, pentru cateva fotografii care surprind acea vibratie „zboara fata Ghana inapoi acasa”. Nana Osei Kwadwo a discutat cu ea mai tarziu despre Un oras african .
MaameYaa gaseste acasa in Accra!
Prima data cand am vazut MaameYaa Boafo in Un oras african al lui Nicole Amarteifio , am crezut ca este frumoasa, apriga si versatila. Ea joaca unul dintre cele cinci personaje femei, in webisodul, care se intoarce sa locuiasca in Accra dupa ani de zile in care a studiat si a lucrat in strainatate. Debutand cu mai putin de cateva luni in urma, serialul a castigat rapid un popular online in urma unor reclamatii importante ale presei prin Ebony Magazine, BBC News, BET si NPR.
Odata cu comparatiile cu Sex in the City, webisodul isi creste publicul in fiecare zi si captiveaza oamenii cu moda africana, coafurile naturale zburatoare si situatiile „fete africane incomode”, in timp ce femeile se sprijina reciproc in aclimatizarea vietii din Ghana.
Facand o plimbare regala pe autostrada.
MaameYaa a trait cea mai mare parte a vietii sale calatorind pe tot globul, dar in prezent numeste New York City acasa. Acum lucreaza la un nou proiect alaturi de renumitul romancier si dramaturg afro-american, Walter Mosley, precum si la cateva filme noi.
Curioasa sa aflu mai multe despre MaameYaa, m-am prins de ea recent sa vorbesc despre actorie, despre ce inseamna sa fii Ghana si despre rolul ei in An African City .
Jocul de afis al lui MaameYaa.
ADA: Cum ai intrat in actorie? Sunteti implicat in orice alta forma de arta in afara de actorie?
MaameYaa: Stii cum in scoala primara trebuie sa fii in jocul scolii? Ei bine, asta am fost la gradinita. M-am gandit ca sunt cel mai norocos copil din lume pentru ca trebuie sa am o linie ca oaie in productia noastra de clasa de Gingerbread Man. Am cantat si cativa ani pana la liceu, cand am decis sa ma concentrez pe actorie si sa incerc si pentru echipa de fotbal.
Poti sa crezi ca am fost portar !? Chale, de aceea am pierdut o multime de jocuri, dar cand am prins mingea, acele vanatai de pe mine, cu siguranta, aratau arta. Conteaza asta?
ADA: Cum influenteaza fondul tau ghanez actoria ta?
MaameYaa: Am un tata foarte animat, care atunci cand eram copil era cel mai bun povestitor de culcare – trebuie sa spun ca auzindu-l face pe Kwaku Ananse a jucat un rol intr-un fel.
ADA: Spune-ne cum este viata in New York.
MaameYaa: Acesta este al treilea meu an care locuiesc in New York. Cum este viata asta? Uneori este magic, mai ales primavara si toamna. Totul este aici – tot felul de expuneri la diferite lumi si culturi. Aici nu exista nicio scuza pentru ignoranta. Este, de asemenea, o lume minuscula in New York, deoarece toata lumea vine aici si este placut sa recunoasca oamenii sau sa vada colegi de clasa de acum cativa ani pe strazi si in metrou. Metroul nu este insa atat de magic.
ADA: Care este mancarea ta preferata? Locul de refrigerare preferat in Ghana?
MaameYaa: Kenkey cu niste peste la gratar sau „un om de mii” crocant [cu degetele] si o multime de rahaturi din acest loc din orasul meu natal in Nord Suntreso, Kumasi. Totusi, recent am descoperit calamarii la Republic [Bar + Grill in Osu] si as putea incepe doar sa mananc si cu kenkey, deci este o situatie castigatoare.
Locul meu preferat pentru a se racori este pridvorul bunicii Helena din Dzorwulu.
ADA: Ce este o amintire pretuita a copilariei despre Ghana?
MaameYaa: Prins de bunicii mei. Una dintre bunicile mele detinea un magazin care vinde panza si ma lasase mereu sa aleg din ce am vrut sa obtin o rochie.
ADA: Cum ati aparut rolul intr- un oras african ?
MaameYaa: Am vazut postarea acum cativa ani pe pagina grupului de actori de pe Facebook si m-am gandit, de ce nu auditie. De fapt nu puteam sta mult timp pentru auditie, pentru ca aveam un tren sa prind in afara orasului, asa ca Nicole a fost suficient de amabila sa-mi permita sa-i trimit auditia inregistrata.
ADA: Ti-ai trait cea mai mare parte a vietii in strainatate. Cum v-a afectat acest lucru portretizarea unui refugiat care traieste in Ghana?
MaameYaa: Eu sunt Ghana. Personajul Nana Yaa este „un alt fel de ghanez, asta este tot”, la fel si eu.
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M-am nascut in Pakistan si am crescut in Sudan, Etiopia, Elvetia si Kenya. Am venit in state pentru facultate, apoi mi-am continuat studiile la scoala absolvita. Spre deosebire de Nana Yaa, pot si vorbesc Twi.
My parents only spoke to us in Twi when we were in the house. I’ve been told that I speak in a funny accent, so in that aspect I can definitely relate to Nana Yaa. Quite often I’m told that I don’t look Ghanaian just like Nana Yaa – I’m not sure why that is since I have the momapo [big forehead] to prove it. I didn’t grow up in Ghana even though Ghana is the only citizenship I have. It definitely has its challenges but nonetheless I’m proud to be an Ashanti girl and just like Nana Yaa, I continue to embrace my heritage. In episode 8, you see her with a Twi book and she starts taking classes!
A.D.A : Who’s on your top African designer list, especially since the clothes on the show are so fierce?
MaameYaa: Gosh all of them! I loved wearing all the designs on set. Each piece is a different personality. I love representing anything that has to do with my country – so proud to see these designers representing Ghana. I would also love to wear anything by Washington Roberts of Nigeria or Taibo Bacar of Angola.
A.D.A : What do you think about the reception of the show so far and comparisons to Sex in the City?
MaamYaa: The reception has overall been positive. People love the fashion, of course, and the topics that we talk about. The main complaint is that the series is too short but I like the fact that it leaves people wanting more. I believe Nicole Amarteifio [the show’s creator, executive producer and writer] achieved her goal but introducing the world to An African City. Now things will go into more depth – if we have a season 2 – which would also mean it would be longer than fifteen minutes.
Being compared to Sex and the City is only a thin layer. Yes we are businesswomen living in a metropolitan world. But the five of us are new to this city, and we are readjusting to culture shocks, traditions, finding our identity in that, learning about the double standards and what dating African men is like. Once you get to know the five of us, you see that we are our own brand.
A.D.A : Some critics of An African City say the series is not a true representation of Ghanaian life. Do you think the show represents the reality of most Ghanaians?
MaameYaa: An African City is about the chronicles of being a returnee and every returnee has a different experience that rings true to their circumstance. It’s not supposed to represent a large population of Ghanaians – that doesn’t even make sense because the five of us are learning about the culture as we settle.
As you can see, the main characters gather together to seek comfort, advice and share their baffled moments of what life is like being in your country of origin even though you didn’t live there. The thing that Nana Yaa, Sade, Zainab, Ngozi and Makena all have in common is that they CHOSE to come and make a life for themselves back home. The five of us are rediscovering the culture of Ghana and as our days turn into weeks and our weeks into months, we discover more about it.
Be patient ooh, this is only season 1! I think the reason why this show is so successful is because other returnees, not just Ghanaian returnees, can relate to our struggles and achievements. The characters are discovering Ghanaian culture, taboos and all, and that takes time.
A.D.A : How has being involved in An African City shaped how you perceive the film industry in Ghana and Africa?
MaameYaa: An African City is groundbreaking. As some of the reviews have noted, it was my first time working home on a set and our crew team was so passionate, enthusiastic and professional. Making a film is making a film. The collaboration becomes beautiful when people who believe in what they do surround you. I believe the industry is international despite what people say about the African films. That hasn’t been my experience and even if it was, I wouldn’t let that deter me from doing my job as an actress and bringing the truth of my character to the story.
A.D.A : What are your thoughts on the webisode genre vs. TV or film? Is it the wave of the future?
MaameYaa: I think webisodes are smart mediums because it’s a new and exciting territory that is definitely a new wave and catching on very quickly. Since everything is becoming digital, it’s more accessible.
A.D.A : You’re working on a project with Walter Mosley. Tell us about that.
MaameYaa: I’m met Walter Mosley at my callback audition for his new play Lift. He was sitting there with the producers, director and the casting director. He’s such a cool cat with the best sense of humor. During rehearsals he would commute to New Jersey from New York just to see us and then he’d take the cast out to dinner and just share things about his life and all his adventures. This is a world premiere play so the fact that we get to originate these roles is pretty cool. We could just call him up and ask questions about our characters.
Our show is currently running at Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ. It’s about two strangers who get stuck in an elevator and it’s a nonstop ride, which happens for the next two hours. The response from the audience is really great. It’s been a blessing to be a part of this cast.
A.D.A : What are your long-term goals as an African actress in the States?
MaameYaa: To acquaint people to the idea of who Africans are. It baffles me to this day when someone says I speak English really well for an African, or ask if I came on a boat to college. When I was in graduate school studying acting, people couldn’t understand why as an African I wasn’t in Law School, Med School or studying Economics. I had an unconventional upbringing according to the opinions of others. If being an African actor is unconventional, then God help us.
I want to contribute to the world with what I know, what I went to school for, what makes me, me. As an African actor, my job is to be truthful in whatever circumstances my character is in whether she is African or not. My goal is to be a universal actor.
A.D.A : What other projects do you have coming up?
MaameYaa: I’m set to shoot a few films this year so stay tuned! And a few films that I shot are being screened soon. A short that I did called When It All Falls Down screens the day after Lift closes. I also currently play Cassie in another web series called Thru25 – A comedy about how a group of friends deal with life after the death of our mutual friend. And of course, we are also waiting for the announcement of season two of An African City.