‘Da Kink’ and wishful thinking

‘Da Kink’ and wishful thinking

We talk television, ratings and success with the creator, star and executive producer of Global's new sitcom, 'Da Kink in My Hair'

As the creator, executive producer and one of the stars of Global’s heavily-hyped new sitcom, ‘Da Kink in My Hair, Trey Anthony has a lot invested in her new series.

Based on Anthony’s award-winning play of the same name, ‘Da Kink follows the lives of stylists working at a hair salon in the heart of Toronto’s Caribbean community.

It’s a charming, funny and warm-hearted sitcom. No wonder Global is giving it a big promotional push.

But will all that marketing muscle – and the cushy time slot leading-in to The Simpsons – make the show a ratings hit and calling card series like CTV’s Corner Gas and CBC’s Little Mosque on the Prairie? All eyes will be on ‘Da Kink for its debut on Oct. 14.

But why wait? As is our wont, Popj.ca pulls out its crystal ball and Anthony plays along during our early morning interview.

So Trey, there are a lot of expectations with your show. How are you feeling in advance of the debut?
(Laughs) I’m feeling a lot of anticipation, nervousness. A lot of people have come up to me and said, “Make us proud,” which is great, but it’s a lot of pressure, too. So many people have embraced the play and so they have high expectations with us going to TV.

This isn’t the first time, though. A pilot aired on Vision TV a few years ago, but the new version is dramatically different from that.
Yeah, the show did really well on Vision, but we wanted to go back to the drawing board. We changed Novelette’s daughter to a son, changed the theme and things like that.

Wasn’t the show being developed for CBC? How did it end up going to Global?
There were creative differences with CBC. It had a negative effect on the show’s development. During that time, I was in a [television] training program and Christine [Shipton] was a mentor for the program. I pitched her the story idea for Da Kink when I heard that she moved to Global [as a programming vice-president] and she said let’s talk about this and what you want to do. It worked out really well and we were all on the same page.

There is a lot of talk about this being Global’s Corner Gas or Little Mosque.
(Laughs) There’s that expectation. I don’t want to take it on, I’m resisting. ‘Da Kink will be ‘Da Kink. It’s a big Canadian show this year and the comparisons are natural. There are expectations too because the network is supporting it in same way as they did Corner Gas.

You’ve got a great time slot, too.
Yes, we’re situated next The Simpsons, on Sunday night, when people are home. It’s great.

But you’re the only non-animated show on Global for about three hours on that night. Maybe, for the ratings, you should consider adding an animated character?
(Laughs) No, I don’t think so. There’ll be no animated characters.

Aside from being the show’s executive producer, you also play Joy on the show. Where did your inspiration for that character come from?
Originally I was Novellette in the play, but when we shot the original [Vision TV] pilot, I was asked to be Joy, not the main character. I was like, okay fine, but it turned out well. Joy is based on partly on my family and friends, multiplied by two. She’s my alter ego; I wish to be Joy. She has a great heart, but at the same time you know not to mess with her. She’s fabulous in fashion, too, with her make-up and hair.

Speaking of fabulous, [Canadian R&B singer] Jully Black is in the show. She plays a somewhat unlikable character in the third episode, betraying her sister for music fame. How did she come to be a part of the show?
Jully Black is a great friend of ours. She also did the theme song. I knew she wanted to get into acting on television, so to play this character, she auditioned like everyone else. I think it’s essential that we showcase Canadian talent on the show like Jarvis Church and Keisha Chanté.

‘Da Kink is one of the only TV shows I can think of in this country starring Black Canadians. How significant is that to you?
It’s like oxygen. When you are a minority in a country and you don’t see yourself represented, for women and young girls not to see yourself in the media, it affects your self-esteem. I just think it’s so important to see people like you on TV. Epsecially for myself, growing up, I would go home and watch Oprah and think, This is me, I could do that.

I think that’s one of the best things about the show is that it’s not about Black Canadians; it’s about people. It’s a show about a family and their friends.
I think that’s important, too. One member of the crew – which was practically all white – came up to me during filming and said, “This is the Caribbean Cosby Show. I want to tune in every week.” It’s important to become beyond colour, as the heart of the show is about family.

So are you still in production? Or is everything shot and you’re now waiting for the ratings to see if there will be a second season?
All of it is in the can, and we’re doing publicity right now. It’s up to the ratings and people’s response now. Hopefully it will be a breakout hit.

Da Kink in My Hair debuts on Global Television, Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET