When the New York Times titles your interview, “Cecile Emeke Isn’t Afraid of Hollywood,” you know you’ve made it to the brink of influence.
You know that your novelty, creativity and candor have awarded you the attention of both your peers and the critics. It also means you’ve remained undeterred by the ruthless machine that can be Hollywood.
It’s a unique position for anyone to be in. But especially for a woman — and a Jamaican-British one, no less, whose work is being described as “Robert Altman-esque” crossed with “a sort of British Broad City.” At that point within the position, you drop your bagel and give the man next to you a high five.
The writer and director’s short film, Ackee & Saltfish, has inspired a web series of the same name. The first episode, “The Lauryn Hill Tickets,” premiered last Sunday and follows friends Olivia and Rachel as they, well, don’t really do much. The concept — an exploration of female friendship shot in a single-cam aesthetic with talk-y scenes where the dialogue is to take you beyond the surrounding four walls — is not exactly new. And yet Emeke’s witticisms feel so fresh in their own right that to shadow the series with comparisons would be a slight.
The difference between the repartee-filled moments of Ackee & Saltfish and Broad City is a matter of conversation. On her website, Emeke writes that the original film was inspired by, “the everyday experiences and conversations had during a time when the whole of London was quickly being gentrified.” The preeminent crisis of the film? Olivia and Rachel can’t find good Caribbean takeout.
Emeke’s dialogue gives life to quotidian activity much the same way that your funniest friend makes a long wait line at the DMV seem like a flight of entertainment. In the first episode, a trip to find ackee and saltfish inspires an ode to Solange, a sold out Lauryn Hill concert triggers an existential crisis —
And a group of American girls, seated in an office building across the pond turn to one another and with knowing smiles exclaim, “That is so US.”