Actors reflect on life on set of Far From Home

The actors during the premiere in Lagos.
The actors during the premiere in Lagos.

Nigerian actors Elma Mbadiwe, Olumide Oworu, Tomi Ojo, Bucci Franklin, Genovena Umeh and Ruby Okezie have reflected on life after gracing the set of the country’s first Young Adult series, Far From Home.

Far From Home follows the story of Ishaya (Mike Afolarin), a charismatic teenager and talented artist from a poor family whose dreams suddenly appear within reach when a prestigious scholarship to the most exclusive school in the country catapults him into the affluent world of Nigeria’s elite. All the while, a huge secret threatens Ishaya’s newfound status and, ultimately, his family’s safety.

The series blends an exciting ensemble of up-and-coming talents and established screen legends such as Richard Mofe-Damijo, Funke Akindele, Adesua Etomi-Wellington, Bolanle Ninalowo, Bucci Franklin, Bimbo Akintola, Linda Ejiofor, Chioma Akpotha, Femi Branch, Carol King and Ufuoma Mcdermott. Mike Afolarin, Elma Mbadiwe, Genoveva Umeh, Gbubemi Ejeye, Olumide Oworu and Natse Jemide are part of the vanguard of rising stars.
Speaking on what it means to be part of the series, Mbadiwe who played the role of Carmen described it as a lifetime opportunity. “I’m so grateful to be part of such an amazing team, doing amazing work and representing Nigeria in the best way possible.
“Elma filming Far from Home was everything I could ask for; positive people, positive environments. Inkblot really went over and beyond to make us comfortable. Working with my colleagues was fantastic. We were in the same space for almost five months. We had so many fun times.”

On the challenges, she said: “Playing Carmen came with lots of challenges because one, I’m not a teenager. Carmen is a young adult trying to find her voice, trying to find her way. Navigating school and all of the challenges but I had to constantly think back on what it was like growing up in Nigeria as a young adult and all the realities that we face. So, I won’t say it was really challenging because we’ve all lived that life at some point. Acting is learning, unlearning and remembering, so I tried to do that.”

On what stood out for her in the project, she said: “This is a people project. Everybody mattered on set. There was no A-list actor. There was no special crew remembers, everybody mattered. It was really a positive environment. I need to keep on hammering on that because we did not have any moments when we felt like our needs didn’t matter or our thoughts and feelings didn’t matter. Everything was valid. Everything was taken into consideration. Everything was taken care of.

“The uniforms brought back secondary school memory; having to wear my jacket every day like while I was in high school where we had to dress a certain way. And being the model Wilmer student, I had to dress like that from start to finish. Even when I was having a bad day or a good day, it was amazing.”

Genoveva who played the role of Zina, said: “It means a whole lot. As an actor, the hope is to get more jobs and represent my people in the first Netflix original young adults series. It is incredible, life-changing. It’s an answer to prayer. I feel really happy and grateful to Inkblot and Netflix Africa for what they are doing. I am happy and glad to be part of it.”

With regard to life on set, the actress said: “I enjoyed working and exploring with my classmates. Having a relationship outside work as well was a very nice and welcomed opportunity. It was an incredible time working on the series.”

On what has changed in her performance after her outing in Blood Sisters, she said: “I don’t know if I can rate my performance or think that I’ve improved significantly because both characters are completely different. Timeyin is completely different so is Zina, it’s a battle of embodying both characters. Do I feel like I embodied the characters to the best of my ability? I felt like I did that and that’s all I can hope for. I’m really excited to do this.”

Tobi Ojo, who played the role of Rahila, said: “For me, it’s a dream come true and an opportunity that I’m really grateful that Netflix could consider me worthy to showcase my talents.

“The set was a safe space for everybody. We’re free. We had a bond of friendship. It was exciting to work with good people. Shout out to Naz, Zulu, Damola and Isioma, they did it for us.
“I’ve not really experienced what Rahila suffered but her strength is what I can take away from the role. Rahila didn’t allow what she’d been through pull her down.”

Olumide Oworu who played the role of Atlas, said: “I enjoyed playing the character, it was one of the best characters I’ve played in my career so far. The most interesting thing about it was the physical aspect in terms of the character’s aesthetic. I like the differences in style,  energy and wardrobe as well. The fact that I was able to change my hair colour was also interesting for me. It was a very enjoyable experience.”

To Ruby Okezie, who played the role of Nnena, one thing people would take from Far From Home would be contentment and believe that what you have going on one day would pay off.

Bucci Franklin who played the role of Government said it was the best thing that had ever happened to him. “From production to putting it out for the world to see, it was a great experience. I would love to do another production with all the actors in this project. Life on set was unbelievable. For a second, I thought I was in another country.”

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