She's worked in the Canadian film and television industry for over 15 years having starred as the series lead in Zixx and as a series regular on Instant Star but Barbara Mamabolo is no stranger to web series. You might recognize her as Rumi from MsLabelled but Mamabolo is ready to take on her next web series venture as an emerging screenwriter for her IPF submission, The Untold Story of Me + U. Learn more about the series and the actress below, and be sure to check out and share the official trailer (below)!
netTVnow: Before diving into the series, can you share a bit about your background in the industry?
Barbara Mamabolo: I’ve been an actor in the Canadian film and television industry for over 15 years. I’ve also sung and wrote songs for films. I went back to school and got my masters in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto and since then I’ve been developing ideas for scripted content. My first short film as a writer/director, Stranger won the jury award at the Toronto Independent Film Festival last fall and recently screened at the Toronto Black Film Festival.
NTN: Where did the concept for The Untold Story of Me + U come from, it’s definitely an interesting and fresh approach to storytelling.
BM: We wanted a concept that would feel fresh every episode like the Twilight Zone, Black Mirror or High Maintenance. But we also wanted the through line of having two characters that the audience would always be invested in. That’s where the love story came in, I’m also a sucker for romance movies, especially Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy! The multiverse allows us to feature our two leads in radically different roles and environments while always sharing a connection with one another. We think it’s a unique take on the idea of a soul mate.
NTN: What made you want to turn this into a web series over a different format (short, TV, etc.)
BM: I have a lot of ideas that excite me that don’t necessarily translate into a TV series or feature film. The short format of a web series is ideal for all of those ideas. This specific web series allows us to make something comparable to an anthology film where we can tell vastly different stories that all relate to each other through a common theme.
NTN: Is this your first experience with IPF, if so can you talk about what that’s been like so far?
BM: As an actor, I’ve been in a couple of web series funded through the IPF, but this is my first time applying as a creator. So far, it’s been a learning curve. Right now we are in phase one of the application process. We haven’t been asked to submit any scripts yet so we are leaning heavily on the trailer. I’ve been reaching out to the web series community, and I’m encouraged by the warmth and support I’ve received so far!
NTN: I know you have background in the web series community already, and your portrayal of Rumi on MsLabelled was wildly popular, what is it that attracts you to web series?
BM: In my experience, shooting a web series is like a shooting small indie movie - you tend to shoot all episodes at once, it’s quick, I think we shot 100 min. of Mslabelled in 3 days, and there’s always an excited, positive energy on set. I’m drawn to web series because like working on indie films, the medium allows for more experimentation, creative freedom and self-expression.
NTN: As an emerging screenwriter, what have you found easiest/difficult about the process?
BM: Insecurity. It’s pretty nerve wracking pitching the concept to a production company and hoping it’ll connect with them or putting the trailer out there and hoping it’ll be well received. Having said that, the more I put my work out there the easier it becomes because when things start to happen, like hearing that a producer is in, it puts a wind in my sails. We’re lucky to have Farmhouse Productions on board to produce The Untold Story of Me + U. They produced a web series for Epic Lloyd of Epic Rap Battles of History and we’re so excited to be working with them.
NTN: Where do you hope the web series community will be in the next 5-10 years?
BM: I think the format will eventually replace TV. No one I know has cable anymore, unthinkable to 5-10 years ago. I also believe web series will gain more legitimacy in the entertainment industry overall. For example, I think we’ll see more traditional celebrities moving into web series, like we’ve seen with movie stars starring in TV series. I also think web series will have more visibility at traditional award shows.
NTN: What is the overarching theme/message you hope audiences take away from The Untold Story of Me + U?
BM: Despite the fact that The Untold Story of Me + U takes the audience through so many different worlds it’s ultimately about what stays the same. It’s about recognizing that we are not defined by our environment or social role, but instead our shared humanity.
NTN: Do you have any upcoming projects you'd like to share?
BM: I co-star in an upcoming IPF musical web series called Haunters. It’s whacky and awesome - I can’t wait for it to be released! I’m currently working on an hour-long TV drama script called Ancestors.