On the day of his audition for his role in the new Ghanaian Showmax Original The Billionaire's Wife, Kingsley Yamoah received the tragic news of his younger sister's passing in an accident. "I was broken and shattered beyond words. I started to wonder if I could do the job," he says.
Kingsley plays the no-nonsense billionaire Bill Gyimah, who is described as a "brute, firm and stern man who's gone through the mill to become rich."
Currently streaming exclusively on Showmax, with new episodes releasing every Thursday, The Billionaire's Wife tells the story of Adepa, a 19-year-old from the slums of Ashaiman who marries an old billionaire with the aim of turning her fortunes around, only to find out that being a billionaire's wife is the toughest thing she's ever done.
In the interview below, Kingsley tells us more about his character Bill, what attracted him to the role, overcoming his grief to get into character and more.
How did this role come about?
I got a message from the show's line producer, Dzifa Abla, just a few days before New Year's Eve. I've always wanted to work with Ad-Visors so I showed up for the meeting. After a 7-hour process of auditions and read throughs, I finally signed the contract. The year had started right, and filming was set to commence in four days. On my way back home, I got a call from my younger brother that the last of our siblings had been in an accident and died on the spot. I was broken, and I started to wonder if I could do the job. While pondering over the possibility of going through with the shoot and grieving, I received a heartfelt condolence message from production. That's when I broke down and wept. After that I made the decision to carry on with the project.
What was it about this story, and your character Bill that made you want to be part of the project?
When I received information about the character, I got hooked. It said: "Bill is brute, firm and stern; he's gone through the mill to become rich." And I told myself, this is the character I can play with great joy. He has money, connections, influence and the corridors of power are his playground. He's in this chaotic and unpredictable world of the rich and powerful, with all the possible scandals that the character is surrounded by, and yet he breezes through. It was mouthwatering. I was in a hurry to kill the role and I wouldn't let this slip through my hands.
How does it feel to play a man like Bill – a billionaire who controls everything and gets the world to bend to his will?
I lived through the six weeks of filming on cloud 9. There were times I had to pinch myself and say, "Dude, it's a script. Wake up." The costumes, homes and cars - everything was made to look great and I had no other choice than to live in the moment.
Bill is a 55-year-old billionaire who's just married a 19-year-old girl (Adepa). Did you ever find yourself wrestling with who he is?
When I met Andriana, who plays Adepa, I looked at her stature and age and thought of what I had to do to her during the shoot, and I cringed. Before our first scene, I had to sit with her to tell her about myself, and that my first born is six years older than her – just to let her know that I had no bad intentions. I was going to leave no stones unturned in doing what I had to do for the role; that was it.
Take us through your preparation process and how you got into character for this role.
I shut the outside world out for the six weeks we filmed the project. I had just lost my sister, and sympathies from the outside world weren't going to help. I spent a lot of time with the acting coach Mawuli Akpabi. I singled out each character I had to deal with and how my countenance with them was going to be like, and also how I'd carry myself when two or three of them were with me at the same time. I spent a lot of time alone at the rooftop of the hotel we were staying in, just to get to feel like Bill. I was really alone. Everyone around me was there for a piece of the pie. I would pick a character and brood over all their schemes and work myself up over their schemes. There was a lot of work on the mindset.
What has been your highlight of working on this project?
Actually, it's the aftermath. Everywhere I go on social media, The Billionaire's Wife is in my face. The number of comments I get on people's impression of the job and the questions that keep coming up about upcoming episodes makes me feel good and very grateful.
Looking at your acting career in the Ghanaian film/TV industry, what would you say has been your favourite role to play to date?
This is a tough one. All in all, it's been the " brute, firm, stern" roles. I've played some really comic roles as well, and I'm sure that will surprise many when they see me playing Bill in The Billionaire's Wife.
This is the third Showmax Original title in Ghana, how does it feel to be part of this project?
I called the top hierarchy of Ad-Visors and told them I am really grateful that they "put my face on the map." That really is how I feel. The experience of being a part of the third Showmax Original title in Ghana, for me, has been out of this world. I left the set with fresh weapons in my acting arsenal. I'm still trying to take in everything that is happening around me in connection to being a part of this project. I am still floating, imagining the endless opportunities this offers.