Fọláké Olówófôyekù: Impact of Nigerian 'Abishola' will be felt for years

Abishola (Foláké Olówófôyekù) and Bob (Billy Gardell) have decisions to make in the final season of "Bob Hearts Abishola." Photo courtesy of CBS
1 of 5 | Abishola (Foláké Olówófôyekù) and Bob (Billy Gardell) have decisions to make in the final season of "Bob Hearts Abishola." Photo courtesy of CBS

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Fọlákẹ́ Olówófôyekù said Bob Hearts Abishola and its Nigerian characters will have an impact long after the final season, which began Monday.

Olówófôyekù plays Abishola, a Nigerian nurse working in Detroit who marries her patient, Bob (Billy Gardell).


"The impact that this show has had will begin to reveal itself more and more for many years to come," Olówófôyekù said at a Television Critics Association panel in Los Angeles on Tuesday. "I don't think we fully comprehend the work that we've done here."

Olówófôyekù said giving Nigerian characters lead roles on a network TV show is powerful.

Speaking with reporters after the panel, Olówófôyekù called Bob Hearts Abishola "a testament that people do want to see these kinds of stories. This imagery is important and there's a market for it in the millions globally."

After CBS announced that the fifth season would be the show's last, Olówófôyekù said she became overcome with emotions filming the season premiere in front of a studio audience. Olówófôyekù said she cried to Gardell before they greeted the audience.


"It dawned on me that the past four years of the show, we dealt with a lot -- COVID, civil unrest in America and in Nigeria," Olówófôyekù said. "Having a live audience for the first time was like, 'Oh wow, this is what it would have been like without COVID.'"

Bob Hearts Abishola premiered in September 2019 but did not invite a live audience its first season. After the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, they completed four seasons without one.

"I'm especially happy to interact with folks who've been watching the show for the last four years because it feels like we've just been in here with masks on," Olówófôyekù said. "It's not just numbers. It's real."

Olówófôyekù continued to get choked up discussing the impending finale. Aside from the season premiere, she has not stopped to contemplate the end of the show.

"My focus is living in the moment," Olówófôyekù said. "What I have in my control is being present and that's what I've been focused on in all areas of my life."

Olówófôyekù said she would have been willing to continue for a sixth season. She said the five years of Bob Hearts Abishola, whose cast also includes Travis Wolfe Jr., Shola Adewusi and Barry Shabaka Henley, feel like they've gone by in a month.


"My longest job before this was about a month," Olówófôyekù said. "Now I've been at a job for five years."

In addition to the value of representation and connecting with an audience, Olówófôyekù said she has taken the opportunity to learn about production behind the scenes. Olówófôyekù said she learned from co-creator Chuck Lorre.

"After five years of this, I feel like a better human being in terms of being able to communicate better," Olówófôyekù said. "I'll be a better producer for it as I step into that world."

Olówófôyekù is developing new projects for herself and has completed a project for Disney, which she couldn't discuss. Olówófôyekù said she has bought properties she hopes to produce and star in and teased that they revolve around Afrofuturism, the genre that combines Black history with science fiction.

"I'm looking forward to exploring that genre, fantasy, especially Afrofuturusim," Olówófôyekù said. "If you're looking for Afrofuturism, I have it."

Before the May 13 series finale, Bob and Abishola have a big decision to make as Abishola got accepted to a Johns Hopkins Residency in Baltimore.


They would have to move from Detroit, where Bob has built his business. Even Lorre said they have not written the resolution of that conflict yet, but Olówófôyekù said she is not worried about it.

"Whatever they do, they're going to do it beautifully," Olówófôyekù said. "I'm not anxious at all."

Bob Hearts Abishola airs at 8:30 p.m. Mondays on CBS.

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