‘I’ve always been a drama queen’
WM: When did you realise acting was a passion you wanted as a career?
Graham-Douglas: I was always a drama queen from a young age, but clarity came to me the first time I got on a professional stage. It was then I realised I was at my happiest when performing.
Weekend Magazine: How did you clinch the role of Lady Tina in the popular TV series, ‘Jenifa’s Diary’?
Bikiya Graham-Douglas: Funke Akindele is a dear friend of mine and big sister, and I had mentioned to her in the past that I really loved ‘Jenifa’s Diary’ and would like to be part of it and she told me she had a character in mind for me and a few months later she informed me that she had cast me in it to play Lady Tina. When I read the full script I was very pleased with the opportunity to address the realities of human trafficking in our society.
WM: How has that role changed the way you see things in society?
Graham-Douglas: It made me confront the vulnerability of many (victims of human trafficking) in society and how their quest to better their lives may just be the worst decision to make. Many young people need help. We need to ensure more protection for the most vulnerable.
WM: What usually influences your choice of roles in a film?
Graham-Douglas: If I like the story, I am more likely to work on it. But of course my craft has to be appreciated.
WM: In 2008, you returned to Nigeria. How has this impacted on your growth in the entertainment industry?
Graham-Douglas: It’s a steady growth for me. I am grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had so far, but I’m just getting started.
WM: Some of your film and TV credits include the movie, ‘Flower Girl’, ‘Suru L’ere’, ‘Lunch Time Heroes’, and TV series such as ‘Jenifa’s Diary’, ‘Shuga’ and upcoming series, ‘Bankers NGR’ with Mildred Okwo, to name a few . What role has challenged you the most so far?
Graham-Douglas: Every role brings a different dynamic and each comes with its own challenges, but indeed, some more than others. I like challenges so I can’t complain.
WM: Every star has a story to tell. What’s yours?
Graham-Douglas: My story is that of a girl with dreams, who didn’t understand at first, but have been very lucky to have been given the opportunity to chase them and live them by the grace of God. I am a woman who knows everyone has his day and if you put in the effort, in time, your day will come.
WM: Your parents, Alabo Tonye Graham-Douglas and H.E. Bolere Ketebu, are well-known politicians and public servants. How was childhood life?
Graham-Douglas: It was a lot of fun growing up with many siblings and cousins. My parents were just mum and dad to me before anything else. They exposed me to the arts and let me have a voice from when I was young. They are both very strong characters but yet gracious and humble and I am blessed to have them to learn from.
WM: Did you face any challenge from your parents on your career as an actress?
Graham-Douglas: Yes. Initially, my dad was not convinced, so I had to work really hard to get him to my corner. But now he is okay with it. He really celebrates and encourages me. My mum on the other hand gave me her blessings from the beginning. She encouraged me and helped me develop the thick skin one needs in my industry. She is my backbone.
WM: How would you describe your very first experience on stage and on screen?
WM: You are more of a theatre person, aside your roles in movies and TV. In your view, do Nigerians embrace stage plays?
Graham-Douglas: Art is art. I love to use every platform where I am able to express my craft. I started from the theatre and will always perform on stage. Nigerians have always appreciated theatre because it’s a part of who we are.
WM: What issues do you often try to address through your plays?
Graham-Douglas: They are social issues with focus on girl-child education, empowerment, injustice, inequality and corruption.
WM: You recently represented Nigeria in South Africa. Tell us all about it…
Graham-Douglas: I was at the Cape Town Fringe Festival. I was selected to present the play, ‘WAIT’, which focused on girl-child education and resistance to early marriage. It was a very rewarding experience for me to see many people affected by the message and I got so much love from South Africa. It was really heart-warming to connect with people there.
WM: Is there anyone in particular who has inspired you to be where you are today?
Graham-Douglas: My late grandmother, Madam Comfort Broderick Ketebu, my mother, aunties and sisters. I come from a family of very strong women. Failure is not an option in our household and they always motivate me to give everything I do the best that I can.
WM: What’s next in 2017?
Graham-Douglas: I’m really excited about this year as I foresee many great things happening. I will be busy on stage, the small screen and the big screen. I will be going on an international tour for the play, ‘WAIT’. Through Beeta Universal Arts Foundation, I will be at the Lagos Theatre Festival where I will be starring in and producing a show. I will work on the second edition of the Beeta playwright competition alongside producing my own movie amongst many other projects lined up for me this year. I’m looking forward to all of it.
Graham-Douglas: ‘Every role brings a different dynamic and each comes with its own challenges’