Folake Olowofoyeku on representing her heritage on ‘Bob Hearts Abishola’
"I knew that I needed to make sure she wasn't a caricature. I spent a lot of time finding a balance between making her humorous, making her strong, making her lovable."
As the star of the hit CBS series Bob Hearts Abishola, Folake Olowofoyeku is back in action now that the show has returned from hiatus.
theGrio caught up with the actress to find out how she handled her time off during quarantine and how she’s feeling about getting back to work while adjusting to the new normal.
“I’ve been trying to focus on just hearing myself through all the noise. The lockdown created an opportunity for that. It was the first time since the show that I had some quiet time. I was able to think and just focus on myself and on self-care and hear myself think pretty much.
I’m working on finding a nice balance between work and personal time and health care and travel, which I love to do,” she said.
“In the past couple of months, I found a training facility that adheres to all the safety protocols and I was able to pick up a trainer and started getting back into basketball,” she continued.
“I’m learning new skills. When I played in college, I was like the big man, so I never really had to dribble the ball very much. But now I’m learning all those techniques and picking up all those skills all over again.”
According to the show’s official website, Bob Hearts Abishola is a “love story about a middle-aged compression sock businessman from Detroit who unexpectedly falls for his cardiac nurse, a Nigerian immigrant while recovering from a heart attack and sets his sights on winning her over.”
The first season of the comedy got cut short because of the coronavirus pandemic and that was a tough pill to swallow.
“It was really, really sad when we had to shut down season one. We were just about to start filming the second to last episode. And that was like pretty emotional, but obviously had to be done to make sure everyone was safe,” she explained.
“Coming into season two, I wasn’t apprehensive at all. I trusted the studio, the network, and our producers and they were keeping us up to date on all the safety protocols that they were going to put in place. They made us all feel very comfortable about coming to work.
Even now, we have the standards that they’re living up to. It’s pretty amazing. We get tested every day so I was not apprehensive. I was ready to go back to work,” Olowofoyeku shared.
The Nigerian actress opened up about how important it is to represent the heritage she shares with her on-screen character in an authentic way.
“I do feel a sense of responsibility. It’s not always at the forefront of my mind, but I think it’s something that’s ingrained because culturally, where we’re raised in Nigeria, we’re raised to think about how our actions are going to affect our family as a whole for good or for bad,” she admitted.
“And so getting this role, I think it’s automatically ingrained that I’m not just representing myself. I’m representing, first of all, my family and then a whole list of other people that I happen to kind of fit into; groups of people that I fit into. Women, people of African descent, Nigerians, immigrants; but I think I think the best way I can represent them well is to be authentic.”
She continued, “That also goes for the portrayal of Abishola. My responsibility at the end of the day is to show up to work on time and do the work that’s necessary to make sure that this character is nuanced and more multidimensional and authentic in emotions or experiences and the way she interacts with people.
I knew that I needed to make sure she wasn’t a caricature. I spent a lot of time finding a balance between making her humorous, making her strong, making her lovable. And I think that’s really what a lot of my work is focused on.”
Check out the full interview with Folake Olowofoyeku above.
Bob Hearts Abishola airs Monday nights on CBS.
Have you subscribed to theGrio’s podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!