On June 27, 2016, The African Artists’ Association hosted a screening of the hit web series An African City at Club Los Globos in Los Angeles. The screening was followed by an engaging Q & A session moderated by Tony Okungbowa with show creator Nicole Amarteifio, executive producer by Millie Monyo and lead actress MaameYaa Boafo.
An African City had its YouTube debut in 2014 and is well known as the Ghanaian equivalent of Sex and the City. It documents the lives of five African women who return to the continent and settle in Accra, Ghana. Episodes are narrated from the point of view of the main character, NanaYaa, who reflects on the many challenges that “returnees” face when it comes to navigating interpersonal relationships, dating and business.
While the show is relatively new to the digital media scene, the idea for it was lodged in Amartiefio’s mind for quite some time. “10 years ago I was sitting in my parents’ home in Accra Ghana watching re-runs of ‘Sex and the City’ and I said ‘I have a lot of Ghanaian friends that actually act like this. What would the show be like set in Accra, Ghana?’” She spent the next 7 years talking about the idea until she realized that if it was going to happen, she would have to create it herself. And so with absolutely no experience in TV or film production, but with plenty of help from Google, Amartiefio walked away from a career at the World Bank and embarked on a journey that would eventually bring us a show the world didn’t know it was hungry for.
Shortly after the show launched, the production team was getting interest from BET and being covered by media outlets like Vogue , BBC, The New Yorker, and CNN. While all the positive feedback has been encouraging, Amartiefio also embraces critics who question whether an African version of Sex and the City is really what the continent needs. But given the growing number of Western educated Africans who are returning to the continent and having to re-acclimate to the culture, the series is more or less rooted in reality. Why then, should this perspective of Africa, which more and more people are experiencing, not be regarded as legitimate?
When the show first launched in 2014, many like myself watched the entire season in one seating and immediately started anticipating Season 2. YouTube has been a great platform for the show’s creators and has given actresses MaameYaa Boafo, Nana Mensah, Maame Adjei, Marie Humbert and Esosa E. a level of exposure no one could have anticipated. But independently funding a web series hasn’t been an easy task for Amartiefio and executive producer Millie Monyo. Their quest to identify the most suitable business model for this brand of digital content has led them to partner with VHX where you can purchase all 13 episodes of Season 2 for $19.99.
Next up for the show’s creative team is an African version of Scandal.
Author: Constance Ejuma is an award-winning actress and producer. She’s also a current member of The3As board and spearheaded the launch of this site’s blog. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.