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Creating Magic Through Compelling Stories

L-R; Seun Ajayi, Venita Akpofure, Enado Odigie, Folu Storms, Dr Aranmolate Ayobami

With the rate in which a large number of people fancy watching films at home via cable tv, it is no wonder how Africa Magic has been able to capture and retain the attention of viewers. The MultiChoice-owned channel has successfully created a platform for telling not just Nigerian stories but that of Africa.

As the New Year unfolds, Africa Magic is letting its viewers know they are a top priority by introducing new and seemingly exciting shows, “Confessions”, “Dr. Laser” and “Unmarried”.

The key actors in each show got to have a chat with The Guardian Life and let us in on what each entail.

Confessions
Seun Ajayi: Being The Confessor
Having to conceal your deepest fears and keep secrets about specific occurrences or situations are some of life’s realities and everyone, old or young, find themselves battling these peculiar demons. But, all of that can be to rest on “Confessions” hosted by multi-talented Seun Ajayi.

The Africa Magic show aims to give ordinary people a platform to unburden themselves of deep secrets they have hidden from their friends, family members, and loved ones. They have heartfelt and honest conversations with these people to free themselves of the guilt and heartache of what they may have done wrong, seek redress and ask for forgiveness.

But as culturally inhibitive as Nigerians tend to be, Ajayi emphasizes on how important it is for ‘himself and the rest of the crew make sure they create a safe and judgment-free environment for the subjects, in order to have them freely open up on what they may have done whether or not the cameras are rolling’.

And even though the rise of social media encourages people to share more than they should, Ajayi is confident that ‘Confessions is much more than having ordinary people share their secrets on pan-African Television’.

He believes “it’s a movement that encourages people in our audience to make the practice of transparency and truth a culture; because the burden of secrecy and lies comes at a high price, but transparency gives one freedom”.

Ajayi who acts and is known for being an extraordinary compere says switching from one role to the other isn’t as daunting as people may think.

“I think they are both similar assignments, they both have me before a camera and both need emotions to be evoked. The difference when acting though is that I am playing a different character. As a host, it’s all Seun.”

Dr. Laser
Dr. Ayobami Aranmolate: Mastering The Art Of Recreation
The Nigerian society is one that is well vested in culture, religion, and tradition, hence, certain ‘western’ habits are oftentimes frowned upon. A good example of such is plastic surgery; at some point, the closest we came to it was via cable tv on “Dr 90210”.

Gradually, many began to seek it out and experiment on themselves outside the shores of Nigeria while keeping it ‘lowkey’. But, as fast as the world is evolving, big thanks to social media, it [plastic surgery] is now almost seen as a norm.

Now, this once forbidden body enhancement has now become welcomed by most and practiced on home soil by one of Nigeria’s top plastic surgeons Dr. Aranmolate Ayobami and the Chief Executive Officer of Grandville Medical and Laser. A graduate of Medicine and Surgery from the University of Lagos, Ayobami did his residency in Plastic Surgery after the mandatory youth service.

“My first opportunity at training was given by a couple I met in Turkey, Dr David Voigt and the wife Mrs Elisabeth Voigt, who both live in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Burn Surgeon and General Surgeon offered me the chance to come to the United States of America to learn more about Burns and Wound Care.

It was a lovely experience for me as it opened my eyes to standard practice and what we are not doing enough here. I came back and we started doing the practice in my place of training.”

After his residency training, Ayobami decided to start his own clinic called Grandville Medical and Laser which started at Gbagada and now currently has three other branches located at Surulere, Lekki, and Abuja.

But it didn’t end there, Ayobami is taking it up a notch by commencing his own reality TV show to be aired on Africa Magic, titled “Dr. Laser”. With this, he hopes to enlighten Nigerians on the world of plastic and corrective surgeries.

“The show Dr. Laser will serve as a corrective measure for most Nigerians that have wrong mindsets or misconceptions about Plastic Surgery.

This will personally enlighten a lot of them on corrective plastic surgery and create a more positive mindset within them”, he says.

In addition, he says he hopes to “inform more Nigerians that have issues with their body image that there is a solution for them. This show will help them realize something can be done to make them feel confident about themselves”

Unmarried
Being single or married in a typical Nigerian society comes with its ups and downs as showcased in Africa Magic’s new show – “Unmarried.”

It tells a story about friendship as three friends face challenges in their careers, in their dating lives, and their relationships. The main characters Nengimote (Nengi), Funbi, Kamsiyochukwu (Kamsi) are played by Venita Akpofure, Enado Odigie, and Folu Storms respectively.

Despite these changes, they remain best friends. Several cultural nuances peculiar to Nigerians will be addressed in Unmarried; some nuances that seem not to apply in this time and age but unfortunately still govern our daily existence; looking for a child; excitement for a male child, marriage, separation, divorce, family interference in marriage, class, segregation, women discrimination in the workplace, bigamy, infidelity, misconceptions about marriage.

Enado Odigie
Enado Odigie is an actress who hails from Edo State, Nigeria. Odigie who enjoys reading and family time plays the lead role as “Funbi” in Unmarried. She reckons the most interesting thing about playing Funbi is the “level of vainness accompanied by a certain sense of entitlement that’s both exasperating and hilarious” that’s attached to the role.

She says: “One minute you want to throw her [Funbi] out the window, the next minute you want to throw her not just out the window but over the fence as well.

“Yet her wittiness and enduring love for her friends endear her to you… till she comes up with another one of her schemes and we’re back to square one.”

In a bid to advise single ladies facing cultural and societal pressures to get married, Odigie urges them to “live your truth and let that truth guide you. Don’t let anyone point you in another direction. But, you have to know/decide who you are and want to be in order to figure out what your truth is.”

Odigie goes further to reveal her most challenging role and how she overcame it. “I’d say playing ‘Ore’ in the film ‘Joba’. The character was mentally, emotionally and therefore physically demanding.

The character was in an emotionally dark place. A darkness that threatened to suck the life and joy out of not just her but her spouse as a result of the trauma of multiple miscarriages and rape. In order to be in tune with the role and overcome how challenging it seemed, I had to stay connected to not just the character but the film as a whole.

On how Africa Magic is changing the Nigerian TV and film narrative, Odigie says “ It is helping to foster intercultural integration between Nigerians and of course with the rest of Africa and the world by helping us share our stories/views and vice versa and as such shifting and shaping our views into a more global perspective”.

Afoluwake “Folu Storms” Ogunkeye
Ada Afoluwake Ogunkeye, better known as Folu Storms, is a radio and television host as well as a voice-over artist. When she is not on the radio, she is on one film production set or the other. Her recent affiliation is with Africa Magic’s new reality TV series “Unmarried”.

Playing the role of “Kamsi”, Folu Storms describes her character as “the sweetheart of the group, always concerned that people are not getting along.

She really tries to look after everyone but also ends up taking on burdens that other people have too even though she isn’t quite as well off as her friends and her life hasn’t quite turned out the way she planned but she loves her man and her children and so is determined to be the best homemaker possible, even if it gets overwhelming sometimes.”

Further relating to her character, she goes on to give her opinion on the cultural and societal nuances that influence marriages in Nigeria today, saying:
“The series makes me consider the reasons that people get married: the pressures that exist from family, and what is considered the social norm of how a marriage should function.

“Unmarried” makes one examine the lengths to which we go as a culture to create what I call false normals. Each family dynamic is unique and there are all sorts of things going on within people’s relationships that the outside world doesn’t see.

Truly not all that glitters is gold, whether it is someone else’s marriage or the idea of yours and yet many continue to talk of “proper marriage” and “Marriage goals.”

The parallels between our societal reality and influences in this new series are quite extensive and I’m looking forward to unpacking the conversations online with the viewers because it will trigger a lot of strong feelings across a wide adult demographic.

Asides this, Folu storms also strongly believe it is very important that we Africans get to tell our stories, not anyone else. She then hints at releasing new projects through the course of the year, “ I cannot wait to show you guys all the things I’ll be working on in the new year, but you can be sure that you will be seeing me in more TV and Film productions this new year!”

Venita Akpofure
Known for competing for the grand prize at the last edition of popular Nigerian reality TV show Big Brother Naija, Venita Akpofure is out and about perfecting her passion – acting. One would have thought being away in Big Brother’s house would take a negative toll on her career but Akpofure claims reverse was the case.

“It completely rejuvenated my career, reinstated my talent and introduced other new talents to the world. The platform was critical to my working future.”

It is safe to say this “rejuvenation” positioned her for greatness, as it is evident in her role as “Nengi” in Unmarried.

“Viewers should expect a female cast that we all can relate to and have little elements in common with. The common battles women face in and around the household and in life. It will be very relatable”, she says, when asked what her fans should expect from the role she plays in “Unmarried”.

In addition, she says “the show [Unmarried] mirrors all the pressures that are typically felt in modern African society. It does a great job in depicting this.”

Naturally, it is expected that combining being a mom and building a career can be tedious, but the talented actress gives credit to her parents and family for the immense support. “The support allows me room to work and grow.”

Akpofure further commends Africa Magic for being the “only platform that displays and narrates a wide variety of all that exists in today’s modern African society”.

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