First, a quick recap…
Here in the USA, we champion the accomplishments of black women creatives in the TV business like Shonda Rhimes, Mara Brock Akil, Courtney Kemp Agboh, Janine Sherman Barrois, and others. Elsewhere, in African countries like Nigeria and Kenya, for example, black women creatives are also blazing their own TV trails, creating TV content that speaks to local audiences; most recently, we’ve highlighted the work of Nigeria’s Mo Abudu (aka "Africa’s Oprah" as she’s come to be known) and her Ebony Life TV network, launched just a few years ago (2013), not long after Oprah Winfrey launched OWN in the USA (2011).
And late last week, I profiled the latest work from upstart Kenya-based StoryLab Limited production company – a new dramedy series titled, "How to Find a Husband," that’s currently airing on Tuesday nights, on the Maisha Magic channel on the DSTV network – the digital satellite TV service that serves much of the African continent.
It is executive produced by Erica Anyadike, who is also showrunner and a director of the series, along with Simiyu Barasa, and is written by Abigail Arunga, Jacque Ndinda, Voline Ogutu, Njihia Mbitiru, Clifton Gachagua, and Benson Njuguna.
"How to Find a Husband" follows the lives of 3 women and their dating adventures – and misadventures – in the "romantic jungle" that is Nairobi.
As exec producer & director Anyadike states, "there’s definitely a movement of African women redefining themselves and showing onscreen how complex, different and beautiful we all are."
The series stars popular Kenyan actresses Lizz Njagah Konstantaras, Sarah Hassan, and Mumbi Maina.
Following my profile, in which I briefly described a media universe in which audiences anywhere in the world, have access to programming from anywhere in world, live and on demand, all in a matter of a few clicks, the creators of the program have now "How to Find a Husband" have uploaded an episode of the series to YouTube, as a preview for those of us outside of continental Africa, who aren’t able to watch it. It’s embedded below.
But I suggest you first read the director’s statement, as well as a brief Q&A about the series (both sent to me today), to provide you with some context, which may influence your appreciation of the work, as you come to understand and view the work through the lens of those who created it.
First, here’s a profile of the woman behind StoryLab Limited and the new series, Erica Anyadike:
"Erica Sugo Anyadike… has over 10 years experience in the television industry. She has also produced and directed a 26-part show titled ‘Wrath.’ While still attending Wits University for an Honours in Film and Television, she was headhunted as a writer for the South African soap ‘Isidingo.’ She worked in development for Morula Pictures (creators of ‘Generations’) and was a Commissioning Editor and subsequently a Programming Manager at the SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporation). Erica was made Head of Development at Spielworks Media. As Head of Development at Spielworks, Erica co-produced, co-created and storylined Jane and Abel and Sumu La Penzi. Keen to contribute to the ongoing growth of the Kenyan industry, Erica trained the writers on Jane and Abel and Sumu La Penzi and encouraged them to embrace the discipline and craft of storytelling. She then left Spielworks to form her own company, StoryLab. Her role as a Showrunner is to oversee all creative decisions from concept to execution. Her passion – ensuring that the stories a society tells about itself are varied and vibrant."
Second, here’s the director’s statement: "How To Find A Husband is about 3 middle-class glamorous women with 3 very different attitudes to life and love. That doesn’t mean that it’s superficial – our characters grapple with work, family, friendship and defining themselves instead of being defined by others. These are all very relevant and resonant issues that women have to grapple with. There’s a growing trend towards getting married later and later. These days you can get into your late twenties and thirties and still haven’t found the right partner. So do you settle? Most – not all – but most women hear the biological clocks ticking, get pressure from their families and from society, even if they’re successful and have friends and a full life. They start to focus on settling down. How To Find A Husband is about that crossroads in a woman’s life. There’s definitely a movement of African women redefining themselves and showing onscreen how complex, different and beautiful we all are. I think that the web series on YouTube, An African City, the TV show Desperate Housewives Africa, and of course How To Find A Husband, all do that. Shout out to all of them. Ultimately How To Find A Husband is about how to find yourself, but there’s a lot of romantic comedy along the way."
And here are pieces from the Q&A not addressed in the director’s statement:
– How did you come up with title?
It takes a long time for a show to get made from concept to execution. We came up with our title
BEFORE we had even heard of How to Get Away with Murder. They’re two completely different
shows but if the “How To” handle is good enough for Shonda Rhimes, then it’s good enough for
us. The pilot of the show is about our protagonist Abigail trying to find a husband so that her sister and
mother can stop bugging her and that’s where it stems from.
– Is it an African Sex and The City?
We’re not fans of labels, but if pushed – we’d say it’s more like Girlfriends than Sex and the City.
Check us out by typing How To Find A Husband Official Trailer on YouTube and form your own
– Who are the main actors?
Lizz Njagah Konstantaras, Mumbi Maina and Sarah Hassan, all seasoned Kenyan actors,
accompanied by a host of other talents including Nice Githinji, Nana Githinji, Lenana Kariba,
Neville Misati, Joe Kinyua and Joed Ngaruiya, among others.
– Those are big names in Kenya. You also have a strong supporting cast. How did a new production
company manage to secure these names?
Erica Sugo Anyadike (Executive Producer, Director and Head Writer) had worked with all three on
Jane and Abel and knew how talented they were. In addition, comedy is very hard to pull off and
their comic timing is incredible. The same is true for most of the fabulous, supporting cast. A lot of
the credit must go to the writing team. They gave the actors something to work with. We wrote
juicy, meaty roles for the actors and we had a lot of fun coming up with scenes.
– Where can we watch How To Find A Husband?
We are currently showing on DSTV, on Maisha Magic (channel 161) every Tuesday at 10 pm.
We live tweet the show with the handles @htfahtv and @storylabkenya on Twitter, and with the
hashtag #htfah. For more info about the show, join us by liking the page on Facebook – google
How To Find A Husband TV Facebook. You can also catch episode recaps and other exclusive
clips on our YouTube Channel, Storylab Limited.
– How many seasons are there of the show?
So far, 2.
– Who is your target audience?
All the single ladies. Just kidding. Our show speaks to single women, married women, single men,
married men, couples, friends and their families. We deal with real-life, relevant issues. We have a
broad crossover appeal.
– What other shows has Storylab produced?
How To Find A Husband is the first show produced under the StoryLab banner. StoryLab also
recently completed production on their second show called Wrath – coming soon. Watch this space!
Erica Sugo Anyadike has also developed and produced Jane & Abel and Sumu La Penzi. Erica has
also worked in South Africa as a Commissioning Editor and Programming Manager at SABC. She
has produced, written and directed Believe and written for Isidingo while in South Africa.
Follow the series on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/How-to-find-a-husband/873998685986256?sk=timeline; and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/htfahtv.
Finally, check out the preview episode below – a full episode (#3) of the half-hour series: