Winnie, why should people watch Susan’s Diary Martin’s Chronicles?
“Have you watched the trailer? Have you watched the teaser? It’s hot! It’s amazing! These are characters you can relate to. It’s bold and it’s beautiful. We have beautiful actors.”
Despite having been the Director of Susan’s Diary Martin’s Chronicles and having worked as a Producer for the longest time since she can remember, Winnie Adisa gets so nervous when it’s her turn to be the subject. She got to experience the gaze of the camera which Werner Herzog once described as ‘death staring at you’. During the interview, she described herself as probably the most stubborn person we’ve ever had to interview, which was only partly true.
Winnie is the Director of the mini-series, Susan’s Diary Martin’s Chronicles, which premiers on the first of October 2020. She takes us through the process of creating and producing this show which is based on her own personal life.
Tell us about your role as Director.
“Okay so this was my very first project as Director because I’ve been producing for the longest time. It was amazing as I got support from the crew, from the actors, and everyone that was involved. This project meant everything ‘cause I put my blood, soul, and heart into it. And you know, women we’re very detailed so the story is intimate and elaborate and manages to touch on both women and men when it comes to relationships.
As Director, my goal is for this show to spark honest and open conversations in relationships. It’s a series you do not want to miss out on.”
So Winnie, why did you want to do this story?
“Oh wow!” she chuckles, “This is pretty interesting. I was once in a relationship that got me floating in the stars, you know? The guy walks into the room and I have butterflies, knees weaken when I’m next to him. We were the ‘it’ couple that everyone admired and I thought, I’m gonna end up with this guy. You know, like a match made in heaven. You start um, planning for your wedding ‘cause this is the one He kept for me…”
Winnie Adisa gets flushed in nostalgia for a few minutes, then proceeds…
“And I knew this was the guy for me, the guy I want to spend the rest of my life with. I’d imagine how we’d have a gazillion kids, if there’s anything like that. Until one day he decided to just,” she swiftly rubs her palms together and makes a wind sound, “To just disappear. He just disappeared on me and ghosted me and by the time I realized I’m like, ‘Hey! What just happened?’ This guy just went quiet.
Right now I can laugh about it but I’d actually gone into depression. Wondered what went wrong, ‘cause how do I move on from this relationship to another without actually knowing what I did wrong? Is it me? Is it him? Until one day one time I bumped into him and asked him, ‘Dude, yo, what’s up? What happened?’ And he threw the usual statements, ‘It’s not you, it’s me’.
But what I picked was that we were not on the same wavelength and I wondered how people who are so in love can be in such different headspaces. I mean, here you are, in your thirties, how do you even start dating again without knowing what went down, what I did that was so wrong.
It got me thinking, what goes on in the minds of two people who are dating? How can you translate that to a conversation that can spark openness? And that’s when I decided, okay fine, lemme come up with a show that gives both the female’s and the male’s perspective because we all have different ideas and I thought, wow this could be kinda interesting. So I approached Ben Muvaka (the Writer) – we’d worked together before – and I told him about the story and how I thought it was going to be dope and create conversations. And that is how Susan’s Diary Martin’s Chronicles came about.”
How relatable to the audience are Susan and Martin?
“Susan represents an ordinary thirty three year old lady who has been dating and has managed to get herself in a one night stand that affects her love life in tremendous ways. Molding her to become a woman that’s more keen and assertive when it comes to relationships. Asking the questions and standing her ground. So she creates a folder in her diary called ‘Susan’s Diary’ where she pours out her thoughts. It’s all raw, emotional and vulnerable and that’s how she connects to her audience.
You know, as a lady, back in the day you’d get together with your girlfriends and talk about all sorts of stuff but at a certain age you feel the need to be open, honest, and focus on your own self. So she writes it all down, from what she feels to a guy’s behavior towards her. Susan is a woman who already knows what she wants in a relationship.
On the flip side, we have Martin. He is a guy in a serious relationship. I mean, he’s okay but it reaches a point where he needs some fun and thinks, ‘Lemme go explore out there’, and so he meets Susan. He feels there’s chemistry between them – not love – and Susan helps him forget about his ‘nagging’ girlfriend. Eventually he realizes that Susan is becoming too intense when all he was after was fun. Martin cuts her off and is back to his relationship.
He goes to the bar, – I used a bar because sometimes most women think when men go to a bar they’re simply after chasing ladies – to just share what is going on in his life with his buddy who listens to him rant on. So that’s how we’re telling the male perspective. They’re a lot of themes we are talking about; love, lust, cheating, drama…everything that entails relationships.”
How did you settle on casting Justin Mirichii as Martin?
“Ha! Initially, Justin came to the project as a lifesaver because the person who was originally supposed to play the role of Martin was Keith Chuaga. Unfortunately, at that particular time we had come up with the schedule he happened to have an ongoing production that he couldn’t cancel. You know as a producer you have everything planned out, got everyone together, locked down days, pre-production is done, and done table-reads too but about two weeks to production, we don’t have a Martin. I won’t get into details of how we got him but my producer, Leila Namwesi, ended up settling for Justin. I knew him, I knew he was a brilliant actor, someone people would relate to when it comes to relationships so I didn’t have a problem with her decision.”
How was it working with him on set?
“Bearing in mind this is someone who was not present during our table-reads or read-throughs, he was great. I sent him the script a week before production to just find out if he was interested in what I was working on and he was like ‘Yeah! I love it!’ He became so intense and was even giving me ideas about Martin’s paths. So he comes in on the project and he was an amazing actor. We worked together well ‘cause you know as a Director you want to have a good rapport with your actors. I gave him notes and he was quick to adjust and just roll with the script because at the end of the day he knew what I wanted to achieve…and he’d just deliver. Just like that.”
How did you settle on casting Victoria Gichora as Susan?
“Oh wow, when Ben and I had come up with the concept and the script, and then I started thinking about actors. I mostly just called the people around me and Victoria happened to be one of them among Keith Chuaga, Amalie, and Ndunda. I told them it was just something simple that I was just going to throw on YouTube. So we’re there on the read-through and upon completion, everyone was overwhelmed and that’s when Victoria told me ‘Me I want to be Susan’ and suddenly I could feel it. This is the person that I’ve been looking for but just hadn’t known yet.
After we were done, they insisted on how it was amazing and needed to be greater than just a simple YouTube show. I’d say if it weren’t for my crew and cast, Susan’s Diary Martin’s Chronicles wouldn’t be as big and long as it is right now.
I happened to be very lucky with Victoria as part of the cast because she licensed me to use her music which really fit so well with the show especially on Susan’s Diary when it comes to those intimate and emotional scenes.”
“Through Martin, women will see that men also have that thing,” she stammers, “That thing…what’s it called? Oh! Feelings.”
Tell us your thought process on the stormy sex scenes in the miniseries.
“Oh well. First and foremost, it is hard for me to tell a relationship story without adding bedroom scenes. For me, as a creative, I knew we had to tell because we can’t have a relationship without sex,” She pauses to laugh a bit, “Anyway, I’d wanted the story to be as real as possible.
Although when it came to shooting, it wasn’t easy. It was difficult, it was awkward, and it was again fun. Of course, we had a closed set to make everyone comfortable because remember these are just actors but I still had to see that chemistry on the screen in that the scenes are tasteful and not bring issues with the audience. So we tried to make everyone comfortable and relaxed and just set the mood for it, don’t ask how.”
Did it help that they were working with a female Director?
“I want to believe so, yeah, because females tend to be keener to detail. I knew where I wanted to take this story. Again how when it comes to intimacy, I know how ladies want it and how we want to be treated. So yeah.”
Briefly, give us the episodic breakdown.
“Okay, this is a mini-series with ten episodes of each as Martin’s Chronicles is the male perspective while Susan’s Diary is the female’s when it comes to relationships. When you watch episode one of one of them, you also have to watch episode one of the other perspective because these two characters are intertwined.
That’s where the story begins because we see two different people with issues looking for specific things in their partners. There’s an instant connection and have a one night stand that leads to the rest of their lives. How are they now going to behave in their relationships after this? What are the effects of this one night stand? Episode two shows us Martin going back to the girlfriend and the drama that comes with it while episode two of Susan’s Diaries shows what Susan does after being left and does she date someone else?”
How can people access this show?
“This show is going to be on Vumicentral, which is a VOD platform that’s amazing. It will only be Kshs.500/= for all twenty episodes. Best to binge them all at once.”
So there you have it, folks, straight from the horse’s mouth. So tune in on the first of October and you won’t be disappointed.