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Big Age | Interview with Racheal Ofori (Dela)

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Can you tell us about Dela?

Dela is very wholesome in the coolest way. She’s vegan and loves living and devouring life. She’s a force that kind of moves through space, and nothing really affects her power, she just kind of does what she wants when she wants. And yeah, she’s the kind of energy I feel like, we all maybe need a lot more in our lives. She has a lack of interest in what people think of her and how she’s perceived in the world – not in a rude way, in a way that is empowering. She doesn’t have the worry and anxiety, that kind of riddles us all about our purpose in life and how we affect our surroundings, it just doesn’t necessarily concern her.
She behaves as if everything she does is inconsequential, which I think, is something I would love to be able to do more of – act as if my actions have no consequences.

Are you anything like Dela or have you taken anything from her character on board?

I think maybe everyone needs a sprinkle of Dela. Maybe they don’t need a whole Dela in their lives, but they need to mix a bit of Dela spice into their daily existence. And I think that’s probably what I did and how I kind of added that little bit of seasoning into my life. I’m here. I am who I am, let’s go now. I think that’s probably what I brought to Dela and what I took away from her as well.

What do you think makes Big Age so unique as a comedy? And what do you think the audience will love or relate to?

One thing that I feel is important when showcasing diverse voices on screen, is just to see the characters, or people, happy, which I know sounds so bland. I think a lot of the time we see the trauma and the struggle, and it’s the overcoming of that struggle that is platformed. I think that’s what people will be drawn to, in Big Age, there are just two Black girls having a laugh and dealing with very universal themes that aren’t inextricably tied with Black struggle from heritage. And that’s not to say that those things aren’t important at all because they are. It’s just when it feels like that’s all the narrative that you get from those voices, you internalise it. For me, it’s what one of the great draws about the show. Not the only one mind you, but it’s two Black girls having a great time and being silly, and just trying to do life together. I think that’s the fun and the joy of it. Also, we really need a laugh post Covid. I think it’s a big USP for the show.

And what does the term Big Age mean to you?

Yes, I’m aware that it means ‘look at you at your big age, you’re all grown up and this is how you’re behaving.’ It’s kind of calling you out on your big age, and how you’re behaving, which is hilarious. It’s funny because the older you get, you start to look at people in your
parents’ generation and you’re also thinking ‘look at you at your big age, you’re 50 or 60 and you’re still acting silly’, so we’re all actually just big toddlers, really. So that’s what big age means to me, it’s this kind of expectation of what should be happening at any given age and you’re still asking the same sort of questions – what are we doing? What is life? Where are we going? And what’s going to happen to me?

What were your first impressions when you read the script?

I think that it was just the joy of it, two girls just wreaking havoc and seeing a girl come of age, but also not quite. Also, it reminded me of the age-old question of ‘when do you step over the threshold of being a young adult into adulthood?’ For some people, it’s at 25 when the rail card runs out, but then you get to 25 and you think, ‘oh, maybe not!’ That’s how I felt when I read the show. I love the idea of adulthood, and, big age and all those expectations and even when those expectations aren’t met, the joys that still can be found in trying to find them.

Had you read any of Bolu’s work beforehand and what was it like working with her?

Yes, I had read her work. I mean, even if you peruse Twitter for about five seconds, you would have read Bolu’s work! She’s really sharp, witty and is a very conscious, ear to the ground, pop culture connoisseur. I also read her book Love In Colour way before I knew I was going to be working with her and she’s just a force. I think every time I read any novel that makes me do some kind of mental gymnastics, I’m just in awe. Bolu takes the reader on a roller coaster ride of love around the world in her book; it’s joyful and a celebration of love.

And finally, if you’ve got anything else coming up?

Well, I have lots of plate spinning going on. There are projects that are in the pipeline later this year but nothing confirmed as yet. I’m also writing an adaptation of a solo show that I recently performed and working with a production company on that. I’ve also recently written an episode of Anansi Boys, which is about to start filming soon.