4 January 2018
Omolola Adeleke on creating a fairytale marriage on TV
In Omolola Adeleke’s eyes, love is the most important thing as is exhibited by the newlyweds – Tomide (Kenya’s Nick Mutuma) and Dede (Nigeria’s Chiagoziem Nwakanma) – in her TV romantic comedy This Is It (watch Season 1 on Showmax now). A two-part miniseries, Season 1 depicts couples in their honeymoon phase in the first six months of marriage, while Season 2 tackles some of the challenges this almost-perfect couple go through to reach their happily ever after. Omolola, who is the creator and director of This Is It, tells us what fans can expect in the final season and why she had to tell this fairytale story.
What inspired you to get into filmmaking?
It started from a very personal experience. I was involved in a car crash 10 years ago and it sort of gave me that purposeful paradigm shift towards life. Film was that purpose, I realised I wanted to tell and visualise amazing stories. I love movies. I love to see words come to life.
In a nutshell, what new challenges does This Is It, Season 2, present to the newly married couple?
Season 2 gets real. It shows that aside from excitement and all that, these are real humans, in a real world where there are all sorts of real challenges that need to be dealt with. Challenges like conception, culture, sexual language and many more. It shows that real, raw side to the issues that newlyweds or couples could face but still has a light-hearted undertone to it. Season 1 was about the excitement and thrill of just getting married, Season 2 is about coming together to tackle real issues.
A couple recently did a This Is It themed wedding shoot – how do you feel about this show having such a huge impact on viewers?
It felt amazing. It showed that the show was successful in connecting with the audience in a very personal way, not just for entertainment. That was priceless. It proves what I’ve always believed in – film is a great tool for societal change.
Other than that, what are some of the positive reactions the show has elicited?
When people knew this was the last season, they were hysterical. We got lots of emails, comments and calls. People offering to donate money just so the show can go on and how the show has helped their outlook on coupling. We have people requesting DVDs so they can keep the show forever. It’s just amazing and surreal.
Tell us about choosing Kenyan Nick Mutuma to play the role of Tomide instead of a Nigerian actor.
It wasn’t planned. We had cast a Nigerian but two weeks into production, he opted out of our show for a bigger one. I had just two weeks to find another young actor. Somehow I remembered Shuga and this really young looking dude from Kenya named Nick Mutuma. I gave it a shot, and voila!
With so many TV shows out there dealing with relationships, what makes This Is It different?
It’s aspirational; it brings to life what everybody really wants – a positive marriage! We focused on the fun, positive side of things. Also, using a really young-looking cast makes it relatable to young people and even more aspirational.
How have your own personal experiences shaped the show to be what it is?
First of all, Dede is an exaggerated version of me, and Tomide is my dream guy. So I wrote what was real to me. I wrote it from the heart and I think that’s what shaped the show. It was honest and came from a deeply relatable place.
What is your end game with This Is It? Why is important for you as a filmmaker to tell this story to the world?
I believe in love. I believe there are good marriages and I believe in fairytales. Some have it, so why not publicise that it’s possible. You can aspire to be happy in your relationship.
You are 27, and building an empire in TV/film. What’s your one secret to success that upcoming filmmakers can emulate?
Film is not a joke. You’d better have passion because it will test you! You must be hard-working and you must evolve. You must understand that film is 2% art and 98% marketing!
In your opinion, what opportunities do internet streaming services like Showmax offer to the filmmaking industry in Africa?
Internet is the future and the future is now. Showmax is definitely positioned in the right place and now is the time for them to take interest in independent filmmakers, and empower them to tell original modern African stories that can change the African Narrative. We have brilliant filmmakers out there. Showmax can offer its platform for these filmmakers to express themselves. That way, they lead and we all win.
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