Wednesday 29 Oct 2014
Established actress and ex-Holby City star Rakie Ayola couldn't resist the opportunity to play glam mum Shalondra.
"The script made me laugh out loud when I read it," she reveals. "I'd describe the show as a modern-day Partridge Family, to anyone old enough to know what that means. It's really colourful, funky and so much fun.
"I also like the fact that there were a lot of politically-correct boxes being ticked, but the writers and producer haven't been restrained by that," she continues.
"So, instead of bowing to this altar, they've said, 'Okay, we have this family that's half-black, half-white, half-American, half-British. We have a mix of boys and girls, one character who's mixed-raced and deaf – but we're not going to be restrained by any of that. We're not going to tiptoe around Martha's disability or anything.' I liked that. It wasn't some sort of reverential hands-off approach to what we're presenting."
So what does Raki think of Shalondra?
"Shalondra Swann is glamorous and a great mum – and like all great mums she messes up sometimes. She doesn't always get things right but she certainly tries to do what's best for everybody," she explains.
"She's caring, very talented and always looks great – first thing in the morning and last thing at night Shalondra looks fantastic. I am not like that! She's a mum with false nails who likes to bake cakes – they're quite a rare breed."
There must have been quite a lot of pressure singing, dancing and acting all in one show?
"I can sing. I've done a couple of Children In Needs – if anyone asks for someone to sing, I'll put my hand up.
"So to play a character who can sing has been a joy. Whenever it looks like Shalondra singing, it is me," reveals Raki.
"There was pressure though. In one episode I play Shalondra and her triplet sisters! On top of the usual costume changes I was getting dressed and becoming somebody else. My head was exploding."
What was it like for Rakie working with a predominately young cast?
"They're fantastic. They're a hugely-talented group of people. You'll hear so much about all of them because they've all got a funny bone, particularly Angus and Dominique – if they don't appear in sitcom after sitcom I'll be very surprised."
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