An African in the City: Meet MaameYaa Boafo
What do you do when you’re born in Pakistan to two Ghanaian humanitarians whose work allowed you to live in such diverse countries as Sudan, Switzerland, Ethiopia and Kenya?
Become an actress, of course.
But not before double-majoring in Journalism and French, and then completing a Masters in Acting so, you know, mom and dad could feel confident that if things didn’t work out you could always teach.
Such is the life of MaameYaa Boafo, known mostly for leading the casts of the popular web series An African City, but is also an accomplished theater performer, having worked with acclaimed writer Walter Mosley, and a TV actress to boot.
For MaameYaa, life is an adventure. Whether jetting off to Accra for her first TedX talk, promoting a film in San Fran, where she took a break to try the chocolate-covered worms, or camel-riding in Dubai, she is anything but predictable.
Fortunately, the Harlem resident made time for us to chat about her experience with African Americans, what gets her through the rough patches, life in the City, and more!
TAC: When did you move to the States?
MaameYaa: I moved to the States for college in 2001. After graduating, I travelled a little bit and eventually did post graduate studies at Rutgers. I’ve been here ever since.
TAC: What’s been your experience with African Americans?
MaameYaa: The African Americans that I met when I came here for school were surprised by me because I don’t fit the concept of what they have in mind as African. I don’t wear a weave or much makeup, I wasn’t studying to be a doctor or lawyer, and I like black-and-white movies and Gone with the Wind. I also don’t have much of an accent. But when people find out I’m African, some are really interested in the diaspora and Pan Africa and want to know more.
TAC: How does it make you feel that people don’t always know you’re African?
MaameYaa: It kinda puts me in limbo, because I’m not Ghanaian American. I like when people recognize that I’m African, because being away from my parents, there’s a sense of pride. I was recently in Ghana giving a Ted talk, and people were surprised to see me speaking my language. I take pride in the fact that my family taught me my language.
TAC: Is there anything that your parents taught you that you live by?
MaameYaa: I was brought up in a house that serves the Lord. God is in control. We go by that, especially when we were living in countries that were rebuilding after a civil war. As aid workers, we’ve lived through lots of different scenarios. It also helps when I get rejected by auditions.
TAC: What do you like to do in the City?
MaameYaa: I like supporting my friends’ shows and concerts. I like skydiving. I’ll try anything that doesn’t involve birds. I also plan to volunteer. That’s how I grew up.
TAC: Do you plan to stay in New York long term?
MaameYaa: I’m not sure. I really enjoyed living in Ethiopia, because growing up I stayed there the longest.
TAC: One last question… When can we expect Season 2 of An African City? Where will it be shot? And do you get tired of people asking?
MaameYaa: It’s been a year, I get it. I’ll just say soon. And as far as I know it will be in Ghana.
(Photos courtesy of MaameYaa Boafo and Tony and Eveliz)