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With women and fresh faces, Showmax expands its Nigerian Originals catalogue

By Anita Eboigbe
04 February 2023   |   3:47 am
The world was introduced to four new female characters on November 10, 2022 — Ifeyinwa (Bisola Aiyeola), Ramat (Ini Dima-Okojie), Ivie (Sharon Ooja) and Dolapo (Enado Odigie) — as they work their way through the intricacies of life, making their mistakes and getting caught in the webs of other people’s mistakes.

The world was introduced to four new female characters on November 10, 2022 — Ifeyinwa (Bisola Aiyeola), Ramat (Ini Dima-Okojie), Ivie (Sharon Ooja) and Dolapo (Enado Odigie) — as they work their way through the intricacies of life, making their mistakes and getting caught in the webs of other people’s mistakes.

Modelled after the lives of real women (and people) and just like the television women before them (think: Girlfriends, Sex and the City), these women are flawed, but attempt to lead their best lives. We are introduced to the battles they face and their individual relationships with the concept of love but it is their sisterhood that really holds the series together as they push through the ebbs and flows of life.

This sisterhood sits at the centre of the series’ plot as director, Tola Odunsi said, “Women face several challenges in life, and we wanted to tell a deeper story that explored these issues” and actress, Aiyeola concurred at the premiere adding, “No one has the formula to life, and friendship is what keeps the women of Flawsome going. It is very important for people to have close-knit friendships from which they draw inspiration and go through life with”.

Beyond its standalone value as a series, Flawsome is a part of the new Showmax Nigeria and its growing Nigerian Original catalogue.

In Showmax’s case, the process of finding balance involved building a multi-pronged platform where women and relatively unpopular actors do the heavy lifting. It is not quite the go-to expansion strategy for streaming platforms but it is an investment, one that MultiChoice itself has continued to make in local Nigerian talent, dating back to the first days of Tinsel and cascading to the new Showmax originals.

For expansion, it is easier to go for flashy stars and gear towards more male-led stories leaning on the guarantee of numbers and rave. Showmax has not and this is working so far because of the quality of talent the platform continues to hire, the variety of content produced across demographics and the relatability of these materials.

Furthermore, it is teaching the audience to pay attention to local talent and tasking other industry stakeholders to hire actors simply because they are actors, create great stories and watch the audience offer their support. The rewards for the talents, themselves, show. Since Diiche, a six-part thriller that merges spiritual and physical elements in the search of a killer, first landed on the platform, there has been more focus on Uzoamaka Onuoha (Diiche), Uzoamaka Anionuh (Inspector Ijeoma) and renewed appreciation for veterans like Gloria Anozie-Young’ (Adaure) and Chinyere Wilfred (Kessandu).

One of the bright spots is the attention Tracey George (young Kessandu) got after she appeared in episode five, where we are taken to the 90s with Kessandu and her husband Afam working their way through the grief of several miscarriages. The story is relatable for a lot of women and Tracey’s acting elevated the experience even more.

Ifeoma Chukwogo (Fizzy Thatcher), who directed the episode, noted that the platform’s decision to prioritise talent was one of her favourite parts of working on the project. “The show offered me talents to work with”.

“I’m always a fan of productions that go with new talents. I love that because it’s very easy to fall into that industry mind-set of ‘it has to be this person that has ten million Instagram followers’. If a studio cannot usher in new faces, then who can? They are the ones that have the power, the PR machinery and budgets to elevate talents. I think the audience will enjoy the freshness of that, as well as some veterans who we haven’t seen much on screen like Chinyere Wilfred and Gloria Anozie-Young.”

The same formula is replicated in Showmax Nigeria’s newest original, Crime and Justice Lagos with Folu Storms (Kelechi ‘KC’ Farasin) and Jamaal Ibrahim (Danladi Dikko), both good actors who are often missing from Nollywood’s glitz, helming the show by playing detectives. It is another crime thriller, the platform’s second one this year.

Executive produced by Yinka Edwards, the series explores the activities of the fictional Serious and Special Crimes Unit (SSCU) headed by its charismatic boss, Deputy Commissioner of Police Femi Biboye (William Benson) and made up of an elite team of top detectives who go out of their way to fight crime in the bustling city.

With a new crime story every episode, Showmax expands the genre’s direction in Nigerian television experimenting with actors who are intent on crafting a good watching experience for the audience. On the flip side of the rewarding experience, the actors are exposed to a wider audience as Ibrahim explains:

“Showmax gives you the visibility and platform that is worldwide, with access to eyeballs. It is one of the major reasons I love Showmax and working with the platform. I appreciate it and it is a beautiful experience.”

He added that the platform is big on telling African stories and that the show, like most Showmax content, is “about real people, real issues and it speaks about people you know and everyone would see a bit of themselves in this.”

But what is more real than the stories of actual people, documented for posterity? This question is answered in documentaries that take you through the lives and times of individuals and phenomena that shaped history — Nigerian music history in this case.

Diversifying its content slate, Showmax premiered Journey of the Beats in June, 2022. The 10-part docu-series, produced by Obi Asika, follows the journey of Nigerian and black music through the years.

It is told through the lens of music historians and some of Nigeria’s biggest artists, like 2Baba, P-Square, Onyeka Onwenu, Daddy Showkey, Flavour, and D’Banj, tracing the origins of Afrobeats.

Taking the risks of telling these stories and using relatively new actors was hedged on the shenanigans of six women — Carolyna Hutchings, Laura Ikeji-Kanu, Chioma Ikokwu, Toyin Lawani-Adebayo, Iyabo Ojo, and Mariam Timmer — in one show, and the projection that the audience would love them enough to sign up on Showmax. It worked.

The Real Housewives of Lagos, produced by Livespot 360 and released in April, shattered all expectations and broke the record for the most first-day views on Showmax Nigeria. Beyond the hits gained on the platform, the show became a sensational conversation starter that catapulted Showmax Nigeria from the rather obscure Africa Magic sibling to a potentially successful streaming platform on its own turf.

It has now shown more than potential and appears to have settled in, ready to do more work for a long time. If nothing, the appointment of a General Manager for Nigerian operations, Opeoluwa Filani, proves it.

Following a successful year, Filani is the first ever General Manager to be appointed in Nigeria for the streaming platform as it continues to expand its presence and investment in the country. The audience is waiting for more ground-breaking content. Until then, cheers to the women and fresh faces that have held the platform together.