Complex Lifestyle X Hey, I´m on TV!
I had my debut on TV screens across Germany! The show is called “ Der Diktator ” (The Dictator) which first Episode aired April 24 on ZDFneo. I was one of the eight partakers on the show that depicts a fictional dictatorship. For a week, we had no outside contacts. This means no phones, radios, TV’s or democratic freedom. On top of it, we were ruled and governed by reckless invisible Dictator. It was very exciting & also very challenging for me. For those who do not know me, I don't take anyone tell me who I am supposed to be, let alone tell me to worship any human very well. Therefore, naturally, I get into some pretty sticky situations that you must watch to understand! But before I tell you more - Here is the trailer - in German only, sorry.
How did this happen?
So let me tell you guys how random this was. I was in New York last Summer minding my business and actually fully diving into entrepreneurial work and adventures, when I was hit up on one of my social media outlets. A German TV Production scout contacted me and wanted to cast me for this show. I was intrigued as I always say that people of color are so underrepresented in German media although we are MANY living in Germany. Like for real, we A LOT out here, so why not represent and break a glass sealing maybe? Could be a good chance to present people from African descent in a multi layered and more complex way than just the typical and pretty racist stereotypes... Still, yet, I couldn't see myself in a reality show-like documentary where cameras follow me wherever I go. It sounded like " Big Brother " meets " Jail documentary "which I hate. #SorryJustBeingHonest
Then they sent me a link of another similar show they made and that's what convinced me. That show I saw was actually no tasteless humiliating show to get ratings up but a show to really dive into social and political issues from a 21st century - modern day perspective. I loved that concept. - Well the concept they sold me. I was promised that their aim is in line with mine and that in no way I shall be depicted as a " stereotype black woman " - that's sassy, overly sexy, rude, angry ALL the time, aggressive and intimidating - Granted, the fact that the entire production team was WHITE should have been a red flag but I told myself it's gonna be a good experience.
Unlike what I was told prior to signing the contract. I was "scripted" and depicted into exactly what I did not wanted to be: A layer less, rude, harsh, angry black woman that only gets into arguments. Granted overthrowing a Dictator with a group where the majority is complaint and obedient footmen, surely was a trip and I was often times the only person questioning what was going on, therefore in the camera A LOT. However, pushing a "revolution" wasn't all I did. I had deep conversations with my " co-cast ", comforted them and even became the shoulder to cry on. But all of that was cut out in the process of editing and post production, obviously. What actually made me even more ANGRY looking back is the fact that I kept approaching the Network asking for a review or preview of the show just to make sure that I will not be depicted because they have NO person of color in the staff/ team to look over their material and check for racially questionable directions. And every time I asked I was told no and not to worry. That this is not how they " normally " do things. #RollingMyEyes
Then I saw the show. I was clearly the center of attention, the only black women, the only person speaking up, the only person put into sanction/punishment by herself. I had real stomach ache seeing myself and so did my friends and other people who saw the show and wondered why I would allow this type of format to take advantage of my love and passion for justice and twist it into a loud rebellious type of nonsense? Well the answer to that is: I got played. Just like other more known black actors in Germany get played and depicted in movies. And looking back I wish I did not do it and rather produced my own TV show to pitch to a German Network. And that's what I am doing NOW - writing my own TV Series. Sassy and full of layers and diversity, showing the Germany that I KNOW not the Germany from a sole white male perspective. So stay tuned for that. I am up to something.
Not until I actually arrived, and was stripped of all my belongings, rights did I realize what I got myself into. My very exploration, inquisitive and self determine character was now subject to external control. Though I experience this in part within society, I still have the choice to say NO, fight or walk away with little to no long term harm. I sensed how hard it must have been in that type of scenario where literally your life is dependent on " following "the leader. It was like peer pressure, racism and ignorance on steroids. On top of it all power and control of your life in the hands of an unknown Dictator. WHAT? I remember how I was cracking jokes in the interview about how I'm not easily pushed around and I don't follow rules that make no sense or authority that doesn't know what their doing and how as a Christian I believe in standing up for others in need and how inequality annoys me BLA BLA.
But then facing the situations I got myself into, LORD I was having a hard time being the forgiving - loving christian - woke Afropean - freedom fighter. I stuck to my values and tried my best to remain solid as a rock and not bend to benefits that would cause harm to others, aka. SNITCHING. However, not all of the cast was rolling that wave. And as we all know backstabbing causes distress and eventually leads to paranoia which might lead to some drama and escalations. All I can say is watch the show and see it for yourself.
It definitely wasn't as easy as I thought, yet I wasn't surprised that I actually " prevailed ". I am black women raised in Germany in the early 90s. I got spit on, beat up, bullied and more. I grew up to my mom telling me " Nana you are a black girl in Germany, you have to be 3 times as good as anyone else, and your mistakes as a kid will not be forgiven as the ones of white kids cause equality is not real - its just a concept; It's not real my love - not for you! So I learned to build thicker skin then most of my co-cast members. I am very aware of my environment and toxic group contexts and anything that comes with it. I have seen it all too many times to act innocent or oblivious about it in our society. I am very hopeful about the country I was raised in, always, but I'm not dumb.
All this to say that after the show- This wasn't a real life dictatorship! - I still have no clue what dictatorship feels like for people who lived through it. What I do know is what mass manipulation, prejudice, lil to no exposure to a diverse range of people, social pressure, threats, selfishness and ignorance does to people. And this is definitely part of the mechanisms and tools used in a dictatorship - Though I have experience that all before, I did not think that it literally takes less than a day to brainwash some folk into sending someone me off to "die " just to have a Cup of Coffee in the morning. And that to me is VERY concerning.