From slapping to hugs, intense arguments to wild laughter, every episode kept us all glued to Channel 4’s latest series of The Family, which throughout the summer followed a traditional Nigerian household from Hackney, East London. “I’m young and black, surrounded by crack” became the infamous quote from Ayo Adesina, the oldest of four siblings, who has now decided to pursue a music career, embracing and using his newfound fame as an opportunity to make it big.
Flavour visits the family at their now well-recognised restaurant Asarock to find out how life has been for them since the show was aired – and let’s just say things get very interesting!
“I’ll be there in two minutes,” says Ayo, as customers in large numbers go into the restaurant. We didn’t get to see much of the business side of their lives on the show, and it’s impressive. Further investigation is warranted, but towards the entrance I’m greeted by Ayo who immediately gives his apologies and directs me downstairs. I find it hard not to ask if he’s planning any more house parties as I walk to the table to set up… Cue Olu. He looks confused to see me but politely says hello. Let’s start.
Getting on the show
After briefly watching Ayo attempt to slap Olu, it’s clear there are no gimmicks here. What you see is what you get, but how did the family end up on the show? “Well, they actually found us,” explains Ayo. “They were walking around Dalston, scouting for a black family and found us!”
It must have felt weird having cameras recording their every move, so how did they cope with them? “I actually wasn’t keen on the idea initially,” Olu points out, “but after a while I got used to it and it wasn’t so bad.” We did see some crazy scenes, one being the intense argument between Ayo and Julie – did they have a say in what was shown? “We did get shown the episodes before they went on air and were able to say the bits we didn’t want,” explains Ayo, “but some scenes I had no idea would be shown!”
Life after the show
“Things have been really crazy,” says Olu. “For example, yesterday I was in McDonald’s and a group of black kids saw me and recognised me from the show; they started screaming and taking pictures, it was nuts!” However, we didn’t really get to see a lot of him on the show, why was that? “I was just working a lot at the shop, especially the period when my parents went to Nigeria, so I wasn’t around to be filmed.”
During the conversation, Julie joins us and says, “I don’t want to do any interviews at the moment as I’m not ready just yet.” We’d really like her to take part and find out what made her come back from America, but her eyes appear sad, as if there is a story she wants to tell but is holding back. We accept her wishes, as Olu proceeds to tell us of more pressing matters… “I’ve been getting a lot of girls now, though, since the show, so no complaints!”
How about Ola, how is she finding her newfound fame? “She’s loving it,” Olu laughs. “Just the other day she was on the bus and a group of kids saw her, started taking pictures of her, the bus driver actually had to stop the bus and refused to move until they calmed down!”
Ayo wants to show us his ‘proper office’, as the one in his bedroom was for TV purposes only. As we leave the restaurant, I am delighted to be introduced to his mother. I follow him to back of the restaurant, she sees me and instantly reaches out to embrace me. “Hello Aunty,” I say in traditional Nigerian mannerisms.
Once at Ayo’s office, he says, passionately, “I’m all about my music now bruv. I just finished recording my first music video for my track ‘Miss Education’ featuring Ayo; doing an F64 soon and pushing my team, which is Team Starvin!” Unique name, who thought of that? “It was a thing where me and my boys would go out raving, you know, when guys are just hungry,” he laughs. “So it stemmed from that as Team Starvin.”
Ayo plays me some of his music, rapping along to lines reminiscent of scenes in the show. He is obviously dedicated to pursuing a music career. So how credible an artist does he think he’ll be seen as after being known for a reality TV series? “The thing is, I tell people, don’t judge me from the show, listen to my music, hear the lyrics and what I’m talking about and you’ll understand.” Does it bother him if people mock? “I don’t really focus on that, just pushing myself, my team and supporting others who are on the same tip!”
As I thank Ayo for his time, I cheekily ask to try some Nigerian food from the restaurant, so we head back where he presents me with a traditional Nigerian sweet, puff-puff, which I happily devour. The Adesina family isn’t so different to my own. They support, love and care for each other, not letting anything from the show alter that. After conducting the interview, Julie reached out, saying she’s ready to explain her story and her beef with Channel 4 – for those interested, catch up with her on Twitter.
Words by Ra’ed Poetical