Friday, September 7, 2007

WE Feature - ‘Da Kink in My Hair’: Not sacrificing drama for Comedy

By: Krysta Celestine

Ask any Caribbean woman who’s ever stepped foot into a salon on a Saturday morning, and she’ll tell you what you’ll find: long waits, impatient clients, humour, gossip, and drama all rolled into one. ‘Da Kink in My Hair, which premiers on Global Television this fall, captures the very essence of this lively environment.

Based on Trey Anthony’s highly successful stage production of the same name, the series is set against the backdrop of Letty’s, a successful black salon in Toronto’s West Indian community.

WE chatted with Ordena Stephens-Thompson, who plays Novelette, (AKA “Letty”) the strong-willed owner of the salon.

KC: Congratulations to you and your cast mates on the show.

OT: Thank you very much!

KC: I had the pleasure of seeing the stage production of “Da Kink” a few years back, and I couldn’t stop talking about it! It was great One of my favourite characters was Patsy; a mother who had recently lost her son at the hands of gun violence. This was a role that you played, right?

OT: Yes.

KC: Now you’re playing Novelette. Is the Novelette in the play any different from the Novelette on the TV show?

OT: Novelette, who owns the salon, is a little different from the Novelette in the stage production. The Novelette in the TV show is more conservative, more business oriented, and we see her heart. Every week, there will be a new client who comes in to the salon… sorta’ like the stage production: whenever the client would come on to the stage, (Novelette) would take a look at their hair, and a part of their life is revealed. In the TV show, basically the same thing happens. (Each new client) that comes in will have an issue.
And Novelette, like the stage Novelette, has the ability, or the sense to figure out what’s going on with the person by touching their hair to see what’s going on with them. This (ability) is something that’s been passed on from generations and generations of hairdressers.

KC: Trey Anthony originally played the (lead) role of Novelette and did an absolutely amazing job, just as she does in the television series as Novelette’s boisterous sister, Joy. Were you a little intimidated taking on such a big role?

OT: Only because I’ve never played a leading role in a TV series before. TV series works a lot different than stage. The discipline is different. You know, with the camera…. the technique. It’s all really different. But (not intimidated) with having Trey there and taking over the role. Like I said, the role that she played is a lot different. Same character, but different. It actually really helps having her there. We play sisters, and having had that background and working with her so many times before, there was a level of comfort there, so it really helped.

KC: Besides yourself, Trey, and Ngozi Paul,are there any other familiar faces and/or characters (from the stage production) that we can expect to see in the series?
OT: Well, there are cameos. d'bi young, who played the young girl in the stage production, has a cameo in one of the episodes as…. well, I won’t give it away! There are a couple other characters (from the play) that will have small roles.

KC: I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

OT: Yes!

KC: In what way do you feel that the series keeps it “real”?
OT: Well, I think the writing.The writing relates to the characters and where they come from. Joy and Conrad (Novelette’s son) just came from Jamaica and are adjusting to life in Canada. All of that…. the newness of being a so-called “freshy”, (and) the accents are very authentic… bad accents make me cringe! The language (in the series) is very authentic. We do represent! It’s not that people won’t understand what we’re saying, but the West Indian flava’ is still there. The storylines are very much representative of our community.

KC: The stage production touched upon such issues as interracial relationships, racism, gun violence and homosexuality. Will these issues be addressed in the series?OT: Definitely! There are 13 episodes, so there are a lot of different issues that will be addressed… a lot of real issues. For the sake of comedy, we don’t sacrifice the drama.

KC: What are your hopes and expectations for the show?

OT: Oh! Most definitely a second season, a third season… I hope it really heals the Caribbean community. Just really positive feedback.
‘Da Kink in My Hair, created by Trey Anthony and Ngozi Paul, premiers Sunday, October 14th, 2007 at 7:30 PM ET/PT on Global. The series stars Ordena Stephens-Thompson, Ngozi Paul, Richard Fagon and Conroy Stewart.

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