YADA: It is almost a year since Meet the Adebanjos started. How has the process being for you?
DEBRA: There have been challenges but overall the process has exceeded expectations and there have been rewarding moments (like winning 3 awards in 2011, launching across Africa, Europe and now in the US) and realising that millions of people are thirsty for the show and want more.
YADA: What are the initial challenges you faced in bringing the project to the screen
DEBRA: Wow where do I start:-
1) Funding raising the finance to produce this quality production.
2) Casting- it took weeks to find the right actors because a lot of the Nigerian actors in the UK could not do an authentic Nigerian accent.
3) Filming – We were filming in London during the winter and everything that could of gone wrong did. Actors got sick; the heating broke down, some days we were even snowed in. But because the whole team was dedicated everyone pulled together, gave their best and we got it done in the end
YADA: How did you deal with those challenges?
DEBRA: My faith in God has helped me personally through our challenges. I also have a team of experts who worked tirelessly on the show, Fresh Media, Northwood productions and an amazing co-producer (Andrew Osayemi) who is the backbone of the company and has made the show what it is today. Seriously quitting has never been an option because I always believed in the vision.
YADA: How has the overall response to the show being?
DEBRA: The response has been overwhelming. We are now airing in over 5 different countries in Africa, US, France and in the UK in April on the Africa channel SKY 268. Online we have half a million viewers on our content and have just as much subscribers to our mailing list. This month we are airing in four global airlines as part of their inflight entertainment. We are signing deals with brands who want to sponsor and feature their product in the show to a global audience. We are due to start filming for season 2 in the summer and it will be released later in the year.
YADA: I read your story and I was inspired. When was that point in your life when you realised that you weren’t going to take no for an answer and that this was what you were going to do
DEBRA: There has been a big gap in the market for content which Africans in Africa and the diaspora could relate too. The last black family TV show in the UK (Desmonds) aired 18 years ago, since then there has been nothing that shows the lives of black people in the UK. Producing it independently keeps the focus on relating to audiences. Content like this is needed not just on the general entertainment sense but also on the business sense to demonstrate the ways that independent TV content can be successful business models with numerous revenue streams.
YADA: What is your creative process like?
DEBRA: Well I come up with scenarios with Andrew and then we take it to our creative writing team who work through the plots and storylines. Andrew and I write the scripts by simply speaking them and acting them out with our script editor who types up what we say – it’s an American style of writing that has really worked for us.
YADA: Do you think Meet the Adebanjos will cross over to mainstream television?
DEBRA: Depends on how you define mainstream – more people are watching our show on stv (Nigeria) on Saturdays then people who watch Eastenders daily on BBC. We will be the NO 1 Nigerian sitcom across the world and broadcasters will just have to catch up with us.
YADA: What other projects are you involved in?
DEBRA: MTA Productions (my production company) is developing another family sitcom and comedy show – that again is going to change the game and push boundaries.
YADA: When are you going to saturate the Nigerian Market?
DEBRA: Lets have another interview by the end of the year – you won’t ask me that question again.
YADA: Final word for our readers
DEBRA: If you are going to do it, do it right!
Current songs on your playlist
Kirk Franklin- My Life is in your hands
Floodgates of heaven – Bishop Paul Morton
Davido – Dami duro
Ed Sheeran – drunk
Last movie you saw
Safe house- I’m a BIG Denzel fan
TV series you are hooked on now
Last book you read
The blessed Life – amazing book talks about the blessing of giving
Apple crumble and custard
Eba or Pounded Yam
Pounded yam; all day every day! Especially with Egusi and fish
Watch The firs episode below
For more information on Debra, follow her on twitter by clicking here. You can like Meet the Adebanjos on Facebook by clicking here and you can follow them on Twitter by clicking here and also view their website here