Hot Potato: Interview with OC UKEJE and SHIRLEY FRIMPONG-MANSO

By Wilfred Okiche

The team behind POTATO POTAHTO after the film's premiere in Cannes includes director Shirley Frimpong Manso (second from left), supporting actress Lala Akindoju (second from right) and lead actor OC Ukeje.

The Nigerian-Ghanaian comedy POTATO POTAHTO is about a divorced couple who must share a house – but can’t stand one another – and it’s a hit at the Durban International Film Festival. Wilfred Okiche ran into them at breakfast at the festival hotel.


What attracted you to the project?

First of all I have a bias for Shirley Frimpong-Manso because she is really accomplished in Ghana and her work is proper nice. And I have worked with Jocelyn Dumas on a project previously and we share obvious chemistry. All those elements came together to make it easier. The script was good and I had worked with the production company in the past.

What are the challenges you faced on set?

It was hectic because we shot for only a few days and I had to leave town but I enjoyed myself and the fun part was us trying to create some of the scenes from scratch. Yes we had the dialogue on paper but figuring out what to do with it in terms of connecting with the audience was beautiful.


How did you put your cast together?

The good thing is we are using both Nigerian and Ghanaian actors and for my last three or four films, I have done that because it is good for marketing.

The Durban film festival is highlighting women directors this year. How do you feel about it?

I am excited about the women led films category this year. I read somewhere that they are going to be doing that more often in coming years. It gives certain opportunities to women that may not naturally come to us. There are possibilities of collaborations from some of the conversations I have had since I arrived and some of these stories are going to be women-led. I always do women-led films and I feel very much at home here.


How was making the film for you?

As an actor you want to work outside your comfort zones so as soon as the opportunity came, I did not think twice about it. Working in Ghana was fun. This film was intense, made really fast but Shirley’s attention to detail caught my eye.