Talia Versus is a mockumentary series that follows the awkward encounters of the audacious and bright-eyed Talia as she versus love and life in London.
Talia Versus is brought to you by a team of young Black-British creatives. Written and Co-Directed by Saraphina Mattis and Israel Peters (YOCF), with Director of Photography, Paul Akinrinlola (Method Films) and Produced by award-winning writer/producer Kashif Boothe (Kashif Boothe Entertainment), Sacha Lewis, and Raylean Murray. The series stars Princess Donnough (Woolly Hair, House Mates) as Talia, Adesuwa Oni (The Witcher, Years and Years) as Celeste, Kamilah Shorey (Bronzed) as Bo, Jamal Renaldo (Billy Budd, More Hate Than Fear) as Jay, and Elliot Elimassi as Kyle.
We spoke to Kashif Boothe and Seraphina Mattis to find out more …
Please introduce yourselves…
Saraphina: Hi, I’m Saraphina, an editor and writer from London.
Kashif: I’m Kashif Boothe of Kashif Boothe Entertainment, I’m best known for my award-winning projects Nate and Jamie and Black Man Stand.
What word or sentence best describes your life right now?
Saraphina: Calm chaos.
What lead you down this particular career path?
Saraphina: I’ve been working in various parts of the industry for just over five years now and it felt like a natural progression to create something that really represented the kind of content that I want to make and see more of. Talia Versus was written on a train ride to work and shot three weeks later, although I knew I wanted to shoot something as soon as lockdown 1 was over.
Kashif: I started making small projects under Kashif Boothe Entertainment in 2012 whilst I was at university. However, it didn’t become a production company properly until 2016. After working on mainstream productions for two years I began to feel stagnant, it was great working towards my career goals, but I felt like I forgot why I wanted to work in the TV and Film industry. I took a break and decided to make short documentaries that lead to me writing and producing the web series’ Nate & Jamie, Imperfect, and several short films.
What steps did you take to kickstart your career?
Saraphina: When I started I’d email production companies and ask for experience.
Why is Talia Versus important to you?
Saraphina: This is a really important project to me as it not only represents what I want to see onscreen but it represents the people I know and I think we deserve more representation across media.
Kashif: As soon as Saraphina pitched the concept to me, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of, it’s funny, relatable, Talia is quirky, awkward, and makes bad decisions and we need more characters like that on screen. Talia Versus represents the content Black Brits want to see as so many of us want a UK version of Atlanta and Insecure.
Have you faced any difficulties trying to get Talia Versus off the ground?
Saraphina: This is the first time that I’ve directed narrative content and so my biggest difficulty was attempting to establish a style, which I’m still trying to do, but I was fortunate enough to have co-directed with Israel Peters who helped me to develop the idea. Luckily, I haven’t faced many problems with this project as I’ve been working with friends and family so I’ve had a lot of support every step of the way.
Kashif: Not really, but we had a small window to shoot the pilot as there were rumours of a second lockdown, and a week after we shot Talia Versus the lockdown was announced.
What’s the best advice you’ve heard or received and who inspires you?
Saraphina: The best piece of advice that I’ve received is that you have to “focus on the things you can control and then things will fall into place”.
Kashif: Showrunners Issa Rae and Mara Brock Akil, creative director Andrew Makadsi, and my industry peers Adjani Salmon, Shola Amoo, Nosa Eke, Sinitta Monero and so many more. There isn’t one piece of advice that sticks out to me, but an interview Issa Rae did with News One does, she said “We have a tendency of trying to network up, but it’s really about networking across. Who’s next to you? Who’s struggling? Who’s in the trenches with you? Who’s just as hungry as you are? And those are the people that you need to build with“. This is something I’ve consistently done throughout my career.
What’s been your proudest moment to date?
Kashif: Winning my first award, it was a hectic day leading up to that winning moment. Whilst I was shooting the first season of my web series Nate & Jamie and Imperfect. I was working nights in retail on the weekends to help fund the series, the day of the award show I had worked a night shift, then had to go on set to shoot an episode of Imperfect, then go to the award show, I was awake for a total of 40 hours, but it was worth in the end!
What’s next for you?
Saraphina: I’m not sure exactly what’s next for me but I do know that I’d like to make a couple of short films this year.
Kashif: I’m currently in pre-production of a web series which is the second spin-off series to my series Nate & Jamie called Newlyweds, a documentary by Levi Aluede, a hand full of short and feature films and a podcast.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU…
- A book you have in your collection – Saraphina: Sapiens | Kashif: Keke Palmer – I Don’t Belong To You,Quiet The Noise & Find Your Voice
- A song/album that defines the soundtrack of your life to date – Saraphina: Khruangbin, Hasta El Cielo | Kashif: The MF Life – Melanie Fiona
- A film / TV show that you will watch whenever it’s on repeatedly – Saraphina: New Girl | Kashif: Every single show created by Mara Brock Akil
- A play that’s had the most impact on you – Saraphina: Misty by Arinze Kene | Kashif: Ma ’Rainey’s Black Botto
- What’s made you Sad, Mad, and Glad this week – Saraphina: Sad/Mad – The government’s handling of school kid’s meals and education during this pandemic; Glad – Drag Race UK season 2 dropped on IPlayer | Kashif – Sad/Mad – Struggling to assemble furniture all week.
You can watch Talia Versus on YouTube
Follow @TaliaVersus Instagram