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Q&A with William: TV producer, Ayerkie Narnor talks ‘Date Rush’, photography and more



It has sparked conversations, dominated headlines, and social media trends in an era where many individual’s true sense of happiness has been taken away.
Truly, the social media commentary that accompanies a reality show on a free to air channel on Sunday evenings is undeniably a proof of producing content that engages the audience. But, TV3’s reality show, Date Rush despite the excitement it brings to our homes, has come under several criticisms with people asking questions about the authenticity of the show.
Producer of the show, Ayerkie Narnor clarifies the frequently asked question about the show being copied from South African Tv content, the known and the known questions about the show, her life, and what to expect all in one Q&A interview.

Q: First of all, tell us about your criticisms why Date Rush?

A: I always find it difficult to answer this question. “who I am?” I’m a producer. I always see myself as a storyteller and a creative person that’s all.

Q: Why Date Rush?

A: Why not Date Rush? I don’t think there’s any special response to this question aside from the fact that my boss asked me to work on it so I obliged, that’s all.

Q: What goes into producing a show like Date Rush, especially looking at the sort of interest the show has generated?A: First of all, it is a lot of work but it is also the desire to succeed. And I always say that there’s always room for improvement and growth. I think that’s the main reason why it’s been succeeding. We know there’s a lot more we can do to improve upon the program. I feel there’s a lot more to do but continuous growth is the secret of our success.

Q: As a producer what are some of the challenges you encounter on the show?

A: Errm, every new project is a challenge. Aside from me and the team having to put in our all, we’ve not had any technical challenge so far. I think one of our challenges is, for our first and second seasons, people didn’t really know about the show therefore, delays the audition process. But now that it is out there, i think we’ll no longer face that challenge.

Q: Would you say the show has yielded the desired results?

A: Yes we’re happy at how far the show has come but we believe there’s a lot more we can achieve. We believe a lot more work can be put in, we believe a much wider audience can be achieved, so with that, i think it is 50/50. We’re excited about where it is, but we certainly believe there’s a whole lot more to be done.

Q: How do you respond to views that the show was borrowed or copied from South African TV content, Take Me Out?

A: You see, i learned that ideas are like birds, they fly around. There are several times I’ve had an idea and the next minute someone else is doing it. Just last night I was sent a message that Ayerkie, you said you wanted to do this, now this station is doing it, that’s the thing with ideas. Truly in this age that we’re in, we all do a lot of research these days. So what’s wrong in seeing that there’s an idea like this, we want to do something similar so we look at how this person did it, add and take out? I don’t think it is only ‘Take me Out’. There are other shows that are similar but not entirely the same thing. There are different versions, so what is so wrong about learning or taking cues and inspiration from other shows?  You see, Africa we’re so hypocritical that it is not even funny. Back in the day we used to laugh at the Chinese that they’re the copycats of the world but today, they’re the champions of the world. You can only learn and make it yours when you see someone doing something right. I don’t think Date Rush would be accepted like it has if it was the exact thing they compare it to. If we say we live in a global village, then let’s learn from others.

Q: There’s been a lot of talks about whether Date Rush is scripted, is that the case?

A: It is not scripted. Like I stated in another interview, we only create an environment for people to free their minds and say what they want to say. It is a reality show so we try as much as possible to be real. When we start recording, these guys come in and out several times so they get used to us. So they’re no longer shy anymore, they’re not timid. As to why people think it is scripted, I do not understand but I think it is emanating from the fact that they’re on their own trying to create a series or production. So there are videos circulating of them reading scripts and people are associating it with Date Rush. That video has nothing to do with Date Rush.

Q: Who qualifies to be on the show because it seems everyone has a well-defined profile?

A: Everyone deserves love! So long as you’re single and mature, you have the right to be on the show.

Q: Did you envision Date Rush being this huge? Because undoubtedly on Sunday nights, Ghana is virtually on lockdown with the young and old all glued to their TV sets.

A: (Laughs) When we started working, all we wanted to do was a good job and we also enjoyed the show. Date Rush is one of the few productions that whiles recording, you’d find me dancing with a colleague. We have so much fun on the show that our main aim was to do something good.

Q: There’s something about the DJ, he seems to have a song that corresponds with every moment on the show. Is it tabulated?

A: The DJ has also grown with the show because you’d realize that in the middle of the season, everybody is noticing him because he’s has also done his homework. He has understood the terrain and the way the show works now, so he knows what type of songs to select. He has really done a good job with the selection of songs he plays, and also we try as much as possible to be African with our selections.

Q: One question on the minds of people is whether the people who pair on the show actually go ahead with the dates? Do you have any follow up mechanisms?

A: We do, you realize that with every episode, we show you the previous couples, the dates they’ve been on, and what they’re saying and what they feel. Like we keep saying, Date Rush is only a platform for singles to connect. What you do afterward is up to you. We’d love it if tomorrow someone walks up to us that we’re getting married. We will gladly shoot that production. If you’re a young man and you truly want to go on a date, you will at least go out with 6 or 7 people before getting the right person. I’m not saying you have to sleep around. So yes, we do.

Q: Has the show recorded any marriages so far?

A: Not yet, in fact, I didn’t want to give it all out. I mean the season is not yet done so whatever happens we’d put it out there for you all if we have a success story or unsuccessful stories.

Q: Your host, Nii Kpakpo, what went into that choice?

A: (Laughs) First of all Kpakpo is fabulous, he’s great and the show in itself we wanted humor. Kpakpo is a very funny character but brilliant as well. And we wanted that combination that’s why we went in for him and we so do not regret it. He gives us humor but he’s witty and knows what to say at the right time.

Q: How is it like dealing with such a character?

A: He makes the work easy and fun because he knows his stuff.

Q: Would you say he has lived up to expectations?

A: He definitely has lived up to expectations. I think Kpakpo has done a good job, there’s nothing to be said.

Q: What has been the A factor about him?

A: The fact that he is a funny person, his jokes, and you see, there are people who try to be funny but are really not funny. Kpakpo is not that kind of person. He is funny naturally and that is what is working for us. He doesn’t force it so he doesn’t look fake.

Q: How is reality TV shaping ideas of men and women roles?

A: This is an interesting question. I think we’re in the time of reality TV or productions that are real. I mean when you go on Youtube, people are living their lives and they’re showing it and people buy into it. Shows like the Kardashians, Married to Medicine, House Wives of Atlanta, etc. Yes it is dramatized but it’s all reality TV and I think it is really big online and that’s the world we’re in now and definitely, Africa is part of this world. The only thing is, we as a people have our own identity and culture. I’m not a copycat, I do not believe in copying people but I believe in getting inspirations and building upon that inspiration to make it mine. There’s nothing wrong with getting an inspiration, the only mistake is taking inspiration and failing at it.

Q: Has our culture sort of limited our creativity in any way?

A: No, not necessarily. The only limitations have got to do with our minds, it has nothing to do with our culture. Sometimes when we say culture we make it seem as if it is some grandiose or weird thing. I mean if you have to come here every morning, that is your culture so our culture is never a limitation. It is just who we are and what we do. It is just that we have it in our minds that as blacks, people were limited. So we’re not as forceful and adventurous as we should.

Q: What key elements should a great reality show have?

A: (Laughs) I think every reality show is different so I think it is basically knowing exactly what you’re doing and what you’re looking out for. With Date Rush we’re really big on humor, fashion and dance so we harness on those things.

Q: In 2010, you took part in a beauty pageant, Miss Malaika with Berla Mundi, how did it go for you?

A: It was such an eye-opener. It is an opportunity I’m also grateful for. Yeah, we had the opportunity to travel to Egypt where you know Egypt is the hub of African identity, and getting to experience that looking at what we saw and learned, was a huge turnaround for me. I’ve always been passionate about who i am and where I’m from, but being part of that pageant and seeing and learning what we did when we traveled was an experience I’d always cherish.

Q: Would you say your exposure to the world of Entertainment has better positioned you in life?

A: Not entertainment necessarily, but it was more of an awakening, self-identity, getting to know who I am as an African. I think when you have a true sense of identity, you do not have any limitation or whatsoever, so whatever you do gives you a certain kind of confidence and belief.

Q: Do you still do photography?

A: It been a while I must say. Sometimes I miss it. I hardly do photography these days but I’m working on a book that is about photography and poetry so once in a while I’ll find time, travel, take some pictures and probably write. But the way I used to do photography then, the events, studio work, I don’t see my self doing that anymore. I definitely will do travel photography. I’ve been working on a book about photography.
Actually, I’ve had that book for years but this time it definitely has got to come out!

Q: What inspired that book and is it all about Photography?

A: It is photography and poetry. I traveled to Begoro, they have this beautiful place like a small village of rocks in different shapes and forms, so beautiful! I just had to capture that also, I love to write, I love poetry. So I did something on poetry and added it to the photography. I’ve had that book for 6 years, it was actually a project I started in Uni.

Q: As a creative person, what really inspires you?

A: Anything at all. I’m one of those people when i look into the clouds i see shapes and forms. Animals and faces, sometimes when i look at the wall, i see a pattern and stuff so everything inspires me. Music, people, nature, anything around me inspires me.

Q: How do you translate it into what you do?

A: I translate it into writing, photography, poetry production, etc. anything creative.

Q: Would you say you’re at your Apex?

A: Hell No! Not at all, i don’t think I’ve even achieved 1% of what I want to achieve. I feel there’s a lot more to give and a lot more to do. Look, sometimes when i sit back and I’m watching Date Rush, i cringe! I see the mistakes we do and i cringe but an ordinary person will watch and say it is perfect. There’s a lot more to be done creatively, technically and for me as a person, there’s so much more to give and do.

Q:  Any advice to people who aspire to venture into production or showbiz?

A: It’s a tough industry, never give up, do not compare yourself to other people. Be highly focused on exactly what you want and where you want to be. Our industry is all about show business; You have a lot of people showing but having nothing after the show. Understand that it is not just a show, it is a business, so have a plan and don’t give up. Keep pushing, eventually, they will see your worth.

Q: You appear to be calm, is that your nature?

A: I’m a very calm person but also strong-willed. I can also be very difficult when things are not going as they should. But hey, at the end of the day when you keep pushing, everyone else will understand why, when you succeed.

Q: Lastly, the now-famous Ignatius and Freelove brouhaha. People have tagged it as unfair treatment from Ignatius and totally disrespectful to women. Do you find any fault with what he did or to you it is just a show and he’s free to do what he wants?

A: (Laughs) Can I ask a question? Yes.
Do you remember the episode where Freelove said she didn’t like a guy because of his ears?  Yes, that’s all i have to say. How is it unfair if she turned her rush off on someone because of his ears and someone else has turned his rush off on her. Let’s be fair. I mean, women, sometimes we act as if the things we do,  when the guys do it to us it is like it can’t be done and shouldn’t be done and it’s weird and stuff. They turn their rushes off all the time on guys, so what’s the big deal?  And another guy comes in to turn their rushes off, after all, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder!

Alright, thank you so much, Ayerkie.

A: Thank you, too.

Interview by: Willam Lamptey

Edited by: Joshua Quodjo Mensah