Bikiya Gra­ham-Dou­glas

‘I’ve al­ways been a drama queen’

Weekly Trust - - Front Page - Amina Alhassan & Nathaniel Bi­van Gra­ham-Dou­glas: Sim­ply ex­tra­or­di­nary.

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’

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