How 'An African City' Is the Series African Women Have Been Waiting for

The cast of An African City
The cast of 'An African City' | © Maame Adjei
Kwame Aidoo

Some call An African City the Ghanaian equivalent of Sex and the City, but it goes beyond that. The web series, which debuted in 2014, shows the loves and lives of five young single women of African descent; Nana Yaa, Sade, Ngozi, Makena and Zainab. We talk to Maame Adjei who plays Zainab to find out more.

How do you manage to juggle those amazing roles: of being an actor, producer, creative and traveler? What do you love most about what you do?

It doesn’t feel like juggling because they all seep into each other, connecting in some way like one big creative nest. I’m able to do what I love everyday and it feeds me. That is important to me because it makes me happy. As a producer it is about making content, and as an actor it is about being the content and as an artist it feeds around the same thing. Even if I’m acting on someone else’s piece, I’m putting my own spin on it.

The cast of An African City

You studied psychology in the States, and traveled back to Ghana. What are the challenges for creatives in these surroundings?

My goal was to be a psychiatrist but I’ve always loved creating. In Ghana, the big challenge is that people look at creative work as not work, but even looking at the past five years, that’s changing. Lack of infrastructure, funding and assistance to study are disadvantages. Actually seeing your work realized and attracting buyers is not easy. You have to create your own space, work and revenue streams. Also, it’s kind of a gift, because it really gets you to step out and build your own infrastructures. We are trailblazing for people who will come behind us to find an easier path. Being a creative in every part of the world is hard. It’s just harder here.

Before the Vow (your first lead role in film) or An African City?

Before the Vow is my first lead role in film. It’s such a beautiful story and had a great cast. An African City is a big production, which is more encompassing, with so many people involved. Before the Vow was a small family. I had to stretch out the character to see the growth in that small space. So if you ask, I’d pick Before the Vow.

Producer, artist and actor Maame Adjei

Run us through a day in the life of Maame Adjei in the making of An African City.

It starts early. There are so many people and lots of humor, aside from the five main characters. Sometimes we are tired, especially with long days. But even when we are tired, you feel the spirit of collaboration at the end of the day. In season one, I don’t think anyone of us thought An African City would have that kind of impact it has.

So the beginning was the most difficult? It is exciting to know how far-reaching An African City has become. What are the responses as you go about your daily life?

Season one was easy. Season two was more difficult. There were a lot of expectations after season one, and that might have been a little nerve-wracking. I’m regular in my daily life in Ghana. I remember one time I was in New York in a store, and the salesperson was like “Oh my God! I know you!” That is exciting. To be part of a show that has to be celebrated. It deserves props whether you like the content of the show or not.

Maame Adjei wearing Osei Duro

Not that many shows set in Africa star African women in this regard. Would you conclude that it is the series that African women have been waiting for?

Yes it’s the series that African women have been waiting for. An African City catches on something, an angle that existed that was not really touched on. Modern women who are go-getters talking about love, relationships, business and patriarchy. Just because it is a popular show, does not mean it reflects the lives of all African women and their standards. It is about seeing a semblance of yourself, even if it is a little bit in one of the characters. Wakanda doesn’t exist, but we connect to the little parts of it. Representation is everything, so it’s the same feeling when I hear twi spoken in Birth of a Nation. I started traveling because knowing where you’re from is tied to self esteem. If I’m African, the whole continent is my space. The biggest risk I took which paid off was moving to Ghana.

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