Becoming Abi star sets record straight between fact and fiction

Becoming Abi: Teaser for new Netflix series

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Becoming Abi is loosely based on the experiences of Bolu Essien and her time at an advertising agency in Nigeria. The star, who paused her acting career to work in advertising before returning 10 years later, mined her experiences from the marketing world to come up with the five-part Netflix series. However, viewers may be curious to know how much of the comedy-drama series is fact and what’s fiction.

She said: “It’s mixed, that’s why I say it’s ‘loosely based’. I also think that some things that are private should be private.

“We all have that aspect of our lives. But a good chunk of it is really inspired by my life. The characters are a mix of multiple people.”

Essien went on to say about blurring the lines between fact and fiction, saying: “Some of them even have the body structure of my former colleagues, that’s how much I did the casting. But I ensured in the characterisation wasn’t about that person.”

However, unlike in Becoming Abi, Essien didn’t have a best friend at the agency and so Abi’s right-hand woman in the show was borne out of the female friendships she’d had over the years.

Interestingly, she revealed the office the show was filmed in was one of her old workplaces with Essien being granted to the space by a former employer.

The idea of Becoming Abi came to Essien in the middle of the night back in June last year with the star waking up in the early hours and beginning to write down the story while her husband was sleeping in another room.

She said people needed to see the “daily struggles” young professionals faced in an office environment. “I know the struggles I went through working at the agency.”

Essien said people were able to relate to “wicked bosses, falling in love, colleagues and friends, friendship and falling in and out of friendship”.

The star, who also serves as a producer on the show, made Becoming Abi through her production company Evolving Light Studios and having to drum up funds for the show.

Essien cited the Emmy-winning British multi-hyphenate Michaela Coel as one of her inspirations, along with Oscar-winning Hollywood star Viola Davis and hailed her “commitment to the craft” and Denzel Washington.

Additionally, there were many up-and-coming stars like English James Bond actress Lashana Lynch.

Essien said: “For me, acting is art. It’s the act of becoming and I want to continue to treat it as such.”

The star said acting was first and foremost a “calling” before it was a job.

She has also expressed high hopes for a second outing for Becoming Abi, explaining: “We wanted to shoot more than the amount of episodes we had and that’s the honest truth.

“But we couldn’t because of the funds and I wasn’t willing to drop the quality of work, like drop production design, drop costume, hair, make-up, reduce the cost so I could have more episodes.”

Adding: “To get the chance to do a season two, of course, there will be a season two if we get the show.”

Although she didn’t want to give too much away about where a possible second series could but hinted some characters who seemed to have left could make a comeback with some love triangles.

“If you watch episode five, it didn’t finish on a conclusive note, something else was about to happen,” she said.

Along with Becoming Abi, Essien has some other projects coming up including a couple of series in the development which she is trying to raise funds for.

There’s also a movie she is planning to film in 2023 through Evolving Lights Studios, saying there were “exciting things” coming out of the production company.

Becoming Abi will be released on Netflix on October 28

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