Afropolitaine, a web series highlighting contemporary life experiences of Afro-French people. What to expect? Humour, punch lines, well-known issues under the spotlight … and a lot of fun.
Afroplitaine is available with English and Italian subtitles.
Afropolitaine is a 10 x 4 minute web series full of humour that aims to shed light on Afro-French culture. The plot revolves around Yvoire, a 24 Afro-descendant woman, and her younger sister Janis,. They both are in the process of building their identity.
While one finds ways to navigate between her double culture, the other is a seasoned Afro-feminist and the accountant of the Black Lives Matter association in the Goutte d’Or (Paris) area. Obviously they often discuss their opinions and argue.
The episodes have been inspired by real facts and shot in a setting close to reality. Some of the characters play their own roles on the screen. Shop owners and inhabitants are also involved.
The whole purpose has been to stay close to the daily life of the African community, particularly the one of the 10th arrondissement in Paris.
This is where Afropolitaine moves the lines. We usually see caricatural movie or series scenes from this part of Paris. Moreover only a few productions have been fully dedicated to the daily life in the 10th or 18th arrondissement. However, it is a must go place for anyone of the African diaspora in France.
This web-series takes us to the heart of this colourful life through different themes.
Soraya Milla and Aline Milla, Afropolitaine’s creators and producers discuss it with us.
Both sides of the Mediterranean Sea
In your opinion, what are the particularities of the Afro-French?
Soraya: One of the points that often comes up is the way we deal with biculturalism and more generally to identity.
Many of us oscillate (or have done so) between owning our family culture and the one of our birth country or in which we grew up. Yvoire embodies this duality.
Being bicultural (or more) is not something easy in France.
Redaction note: For example, she created the “Bassamese salad”. This certainly refers to the town of Grand-Bassam (Ivory Coast), but it is also very similar to the salade niçoise – a tradtional salad from the French Riviera.
Aline: France has a particular history regarding dealing with other cultures and teh way it is incorporated, accepted in the mainstream culture. During the colonisation, people in the colonies had to fully assmilate and adopt the mainstream French culture and does. It didn’t go the same way in the former English colonies. Therefore, even nowadays France has still a leading cultural influence in French-speaking Africa. Embracing our cultural particularities is being discussed. So this phenomenon has been passed on from generation to generation and not everything fades away overnight.
In Afroplitaine Janis is the face of this generation that proudly displays its African origins while being French.
It can also be said that Afro-French people maintain a strong bond with their country of origin and, or that of their parents. We live on both sides of the Mediterranean Sea.
To which generation(s) is Afropolitaine addressed?
Aline: I would say to all generations. Actually it is one of the advantages of working as a mother and daughter team; we approach this project from a generational point of view.
There is not one way of being Afro-French and this depends on one’s age and personal history as well. Contrary to what some media convey, we are not a homogenous group.
Soraya: Exactly! Thérèse Kouassi (Janis and Yvoire’s mother) was born and grew up in Benin. French culture has impregnated her less. even though she now lives in France, she keeps a strong link with the customs and traditions of her country.
Yvoire and Janis are more fluid. They grew up in France.
how would you introduce Yvoire, Janis and Thérèse?
Afropolitaine – the characters
Soraya: So, there is Yvoire, 24 years old, a business school student, in the midst of building her life as a young woman. Although she was born in Benin, she grew up mainly in France in a modest household. Yvoire played the assimilation card to the full, trying to follow the steps and respect the rules. In spite of this, she realises that many doors remain closed to her.
Janis, her younger sister, is 20 years old. She has built herself up in total opposition to Yvoire’s personality and the concept of assimilation. Early on she felt in revolt against the established order. What animates her is public disorder, civil disobedience and anything that can move the lines. She is the book keeper of the association Black Lives Matter (BLM*) of the Goutte d’Or area (Paris X).
And let’s not forget their mother, Thérèse.
Thérèse Kouassi, known as ‘Tantie Thérèse’ (Auntie Thérèse). A woman in her fifties, with a strong character. She raises her two daughters alone, and runs her hairdressing salon in the 10ᵉ district of Paris. Living in a permanent nostalgia for her home country, Thérèse found her place with the West African community of Château d’Eau. This enabled her to keep her cultural references intact. Yvoire has always been her pride: a model of integration and the embodiment of the so-called école de la réussite*. She sees a great future for her. Thérèse will be able to count on her later. Just the opposite of the youngest, Janis, a rebellious girl who, from her point of view, is completely acculturated.
école de la réussite*– a French concept based on the fact that the educational system must grant any student with the same learning and instruction opportunities. Thanks to that any of them who succeed in his academic career should be able to get any position they want and deserve.
why have you chosen to specificly indlude the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement?
Aline : It’s a way to anchor more Afropolitain and our purpose in the reality and the prsent time. It is actually the case for all the topics mentionned in our web-series, such as colourism, the clichés conveyed about Black people, Afro entrepreneurship. BLM is certainly one of the most prominent Afro movements. Of course, this is not a trend. In my opinion, it symbolises the activism and determination of a whole generation of Afro-descendent who want to be respected.
It reminds me of the emancipation and demand movements in the late 1960s and 1970s. We, in Africa, supported the Civil Rights movement in the United States, among others.
Soraya: According to me, it seems that the generation of people born in the late 1980s until to the mid-1990s was less aware of these issues.
When I was 20, of course we were aware of structural racism, injustice, violence. However, we were not, at least the majority of us, actively demanding and above all in full affirmation of our double identities.
Aline: We had and continue to have the will to get out of what is usually done. So it was important to have two Black dark-skin women.
will Afropolitaine have a second season?
Soraya: Yes, we can announce it. There will indeed be a second season. We are curently writing it. You can expect about ten episodes and brand-new themes to come on board. It will be talked about intercultural love relationships. And all will come with a ot of laughter!
How have you managed to to incorporate at least one amazing funny line in each episode?
Aline: Inspiration comes from what he have heard, experienced, seen in our surroundings or elsewhere.
Soraya: Every time I go to the hairdresser I come back with a few anecdotes! (laughs)
L’Afropolitaine is a contemporary web series with touches of humour that will have you relate and react. It is definitely the kind of series you want to share with your friends, family or colleagues and talk back right after watching it.
If you haven’t watched it yet, take advantage of this “at home moment” and the Winter to do so. English subtitles are available.