Rapman talks about Netflix series Supacell, where sci-fi meets ‚the black experience‘ | Ents & Arts News

Andrew Onwubolu, who goes by the stage name Rapman, says he wants to tell the „black experience“ of ordinary life in his new sci-fi show.

Set in south London, the Netflix series Supacell follows five people who unexpectedly develop supernatural powers.

Doctor Who’s Tosin Cole leads the cast as Michael Lasaki, a delivery driver who gains the power to move through time.

He discovers his partner Dionne (Adelayo Adedayo) is going to die in a few weeks but there is a way to stop it happening.

Unknown to each other and each equipped with their own unique superpower, across six episodes five Londoners must band together to save her life.

„We’ve tried to showcase different lives, different journeys, and different stories that these characters go through – and what happens when you throw powers into the mix,“ says Cole.

New Netflix series Supacell directed by Rapman. Pic: Netflix
Rapman’s new series Supacell is coming to Netflix. Pic: Netflix

The cast also includes Josh Tedeku, Nadine Mills, Eric Kofi Abrefa, Calvin Demba, Rayxia Ojo, Giacomo Mancini and Eddie Marsan.

It also features some cameos from the UK music scene including Digga D and Ghetts.

„It’s layered. And that’s what I love about the show“, says Onwubolu.

He points out the decision to highlight some of the conversations that take place in black households such as: „Sis, you ain’t getting that promotion, they’re not going to choose you and they’ve got a white woman to choose.“

„We could be wrong but that’s our perception,“ he says.

„It was important that the show wasn’t just to see people flying in the sky, it was to get to know the people and how they feel.“

New Netflix series Supacell directed by Rapman. Pic: Netflix
A scene from Supacell. Pic: Netflix

Netflix has been keeping plot details for the series under wraps until its release but Calvin Demba, who plays Rodney in the show, says it’s a perfect platform to highlight issues faced by the black community.

He says: „I think it’s good to have social commentary in a piece that is grounded in truth and then it makes it more accessible because we have the sci-fi element, which a lot of people do tend to gravitate towards.

„To highlight issues that affect our communities… and not put it out in an earnest, sort of preachy way [is good].“

His co-star Josh Tedeku, who plays Tazer, agrees and praises their show’s creator, saying: „No matter what show he’s making, he’s always going to put the culture first and that’s a great thing about him.“

Who is Rapman?

Onwubolu, now better known as Rapman, created his own path to the film and TV world. The London artist has been part of the UK music scene since 2013 and used YouTube as a platform to publish his videos to a wider audience.

Two of his trilogies, Blue Story and Shiro’s Story, amassed millions of views and set the wheels in motion for what was to come in his career.

New Netflix series Supacell directed by Rapman. Pic: Netflix
Behind the scenes on the set of Supacell. Pic: Netflix

Jamal Edwards, a music entrepreneur and founder of the online music platform SBTV, approached Rapman and connected him to a company which paid the artist £500 to create a YouTube video.

„That was the first money I ever made in this whole industry,“ Onwubolu says.

„It wasn’t that the money was life changing for me at that moment, but I couldn’t believe someone was going to pay me to do what I had been doing for free.“

He adds: „I still thought that the film and TV industry was for people that went to film school, came from a certain background, maybe went to Eton.

„I didn’t think it was possible that someone like me, who came from southeast London, could do it. But I just figured, okay, let’s just hope one thing goes viral. One day we’ll see what happens from there.“

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The London creative soon became a film director and released Blue Story, starring Michael Ward and Stephen Odubola, in cinemas in 2019.

It was briefly banned from playing in Vue cinemas after a stabbing took place in Nottingham at one of its screenings.

Signed to Jay Z’s Roc Nation, Rapman was awarded an MBE on the 2022 Queen’s Birthday Platinum Honours List for his services to drama and music.

He serves as the series creator of Supacell in addition to executive producer and lead director on the series.

Reflecting on the past few years, he says this path was never intentional but simply him creating projects he enjoys.

He says: „It has been a blessing, but I didn’t look for it and now here we are now in 2024 and we have a Netflix series about to be released to the world.“

Supacell streams on Netflix from 27 June.

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