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‘Bob Hearts Abishola’ Star Folake Olowofoyeku Explains How The Present Skillfully Connects Cultures

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The romantic pairing of a Nigerian girl and a white American man could as soon as have appeared an unlikely premise for a sitcom, however because of a tv viewers more and more used to interracial romance in actual life, it has translated into a success for the CBS series “Bob Hearts Abishola.”

Now in its second season, the present explores tradition by way of the courtship of cardiac nurse Abishola, performed by Folake Olowofoyeku, and a middle-aged businessman Bob Wheeler, a Detroit manufacturing facility proprietor, performed by Mike & Molly star Billy Gardell.

Within the first season, the 2 foremost characters meet whereas Bob is recovering within the hospital from a coronary heart assault. Instantly smitten, Bob pursues a romantic relationship with Abishola however should overcome her disinterest and navigate their cultural variations.

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Originally of the second season, which began in November, the couple will get engaged. Nonetheless, strolling down the aisle is much from sure. Obstacles lie forward, together with the truth that Abishola remains to be married to her estranged husband who nonetheless lives in Nigeria.

Olowofoyeku spoke with BET.com about fan response to the present and the way this unconventional pairing really makes excellent sense.

BET.com: Bob and Abishola come from two totally different worlds. What do they see in one another?

Folake Olowofoyeku: They’re each in command of caring and the maintenance of their households. They supply one thing that’s lacking in one another’s life.

Abishola has at all times approached life in a decided and centered means — no room for enjoyable, largely work, work, work. Very pushed. Bob additionally has that very same mentality.

What she finds in him is the enjoyable that’s lacking in her life, and what he finds in her is the energy and help that’s lacking in his life.

BET.com: Abishola and Gloria, the Black American nurse on the present (Vernee Watson), typically have nuanced and witty exchanges that spotlight their very own cultural variations. What ought to a Black American viewers perceive about Nigerian tradition in relation to courting and marriage?

Olowofoyeku: That’s a loaded query for me as a result of I used to be by no means into custom. Additionally, I can’t communicate for each Nigerian. I can solely communicate from my expertise and issues that I’ve heard.

Some households are extra conventional than others. Some households observe polygamy, some households observe organized marriages, and there are some households that observe little one marriages. There are some individuals who go as far as to say you could marry somebody from the identical tribe or the identical village. So, there’s a broad vary.

I don’t come from a household that’s concerned in my romantic life. But, I do know that’s one thing that’s widespread on the similar time. I believe historically, for Nigerian families, if we’re going means again to pre-colonial instances, a variety of inventory was positioned into the long run era and what was going to come back out of a union. It was like a royal household, in a means. And a few folks have carried that observe over. And a few beliefs are slightly bit extra trendy. They imagine in love, which is what the present is targeted on portraying.

BET.com: The present maintains its Nigerian authenticity and finds a option to join with an American viewers rather well. How’d you uncover this glad medium? 

Olowofoyeku: What we attempt to deal with is the final expertise of a Nigerian immigrant in America. Gina Yashere (who performs Abishola’s greatest good friend, Kemi) pulls from her expertise as a first-generation Nigerian rising up in England.

Talking from the attitude of an actor, I went to varsity in America, and earlier than that, I grew up in Nigeria and went to boarding faculty. I fuse all my experiences into my character. What I attempt to deal with is merging these two worlds.

I studied performing right here in America. Meaning I perceive the rhythms of American speech in the way in which to ship jokes.

After I’m delivering a line, for example, if I have been with my Nigerian pals, hanging out and speaking casually with a Nigerian accent, you most likely wouldn’t perceive what I used to be saying. I can’t come on the present and painting Abishola that means since you would wish subtitles. However it’s vital that she retains the genuine Nigerian accent.

It resonates with an American viewers as a result of there was an enormous cry for various content material for a very long time. America is a melting pot. There are such a lot of cultures right here. I believe individuals are glad to see one thing contemporary, one thing full of affection, heartfelt.

And Nigerian-Individuals find it irresistible. They completely find it irresistible. And it’s not simply Nigerian immigrants. It’s additionally immigrants usually, like Caribbeans. It additionally mirrors their expertise. That’s the gorgeous factor concerning the present. It crosses cultures.

What I hear lots is that it’s a feel-good household present. You stroll away with a smile in your face. It’s a breath of contemporary air for lots of people. The main target is love, and nobody can argue with love. Everybody desires love.

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BET.com: Why didn’t the present tackle George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests, and the way has the police killings of Floyd and others like Breonna Taylor impacted you personally?

Olowofoyeku: There may be a lot occurring on the earth proper now. The homicide of George Floyd, I used to be tremendously affected by it. I went to quite a few marches.

There are heavy issues that we’re coping with on the earth. I believe Chuck (the present’s creator and govt producer Chuck Lorre) and the producers and writers determined that they needed the present to be an escape. They needed it to deal with love, an aspiration of what we would like the world to be. That’s why they made that call.

I’m very keen about advocacy. I simply don’t like something unfair usually, from the smallest to the biggest. I’ve appeared for causes to help again in Nigeria and right here in America, and that’s ongoing.

I made it a degree to help in any means I may: whether or not it was a easy retweet to tell my pals about what’s occurring on the earth or going on the market (to protest).

A kind of days we had the biggest end up for a George Floyd march right here in L.A. And there have been quite a few different ones the place we’ve marched. I used to be there as effectively. I’m nonetheless discovering my means on the earth with this ardour that I’ve, looking for one of the best ways to help, to present again and to make use of my platform for equality.

BET.com: Every forged member brings a ardour and authenticity to their function. What’s the most effective half about working with them?

Olowofoyeku: Everyone seems to be such a professional. Welcome to the Chuck Lorre universe. I used to be informed how lucky I used to be to come back into the sport with this explicit group of individuals, and I’ve observed that. It’s apparent from the extent that everyone performs: the writers, the administrators, the producers. It’s an important ensemble. It’s a great place to study the enterprise.

I’m selecting up as a lot as I can from Billy as a result of he’s clearly a veteran with Mike & Molly. We present up and everyone seems to be on prime of their recreation. It’s an exquisite place to be.

BET.com: Are you able to share slightly bit about what followers can count on in upcoming episodes. Will Bob and Abishola really get married?

Olowofoyeku: Effectively, I do not know. We solely shoot a couple of episodes at a time. We don’t get our script till a couple of days earlier than we begin capturing. So, I’m going to be simply as stunned as you guys, to seek out out if Bob and Abishola lastly do get married and the place they get married. I do know I’ve my want listing for them.

I’d love us to pack up and go to Nigeria and shoot a few episodes there. It could be marvelous if we may shoot your entire wedding ceremony in Nigeria as a result of weddings in Nigeria take a number of days. That might be nice.

I’ll let you know although, it begins to get slightly intense within the subsequent few episodes. I believe this present is groundbreaking in so some ways; not solely is it the primary Nigerian-American TV present in America, nevertheless it’s additionally a hybrid. It’s not only a sitcom. There may be additionally an intense quantity of drama and authenticity within the storyline. You will see these arising within the subsequent few episodes.

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