Two weeks ago, WarnerTV launched the broadcast of “Para – We Are King”, a German series about 4 young women from a difficult district of Berlin, who will try everything to make their dreams come true.
Created by Özgür Yildirim, already at the origin of 4 Blocks, Para – We Are King tells us the story of Jazz, Fanta, Hajra and Rasaq, four best friends from a poor district of Berlin, who will try everything to see their dreams come true.
On the occasion of the broadcast of the series on WarnerTV, Allociné met the creator Özgür Yildirim, as well as Jeanne Goursaud and Jobel Mokonzi who respectively play Jazz and Fanta.
Allociné: How did you come up with the idea for this series? What was the genesis?
Özgür Yildirim : it all started when I was shooting another series, 4 Blocks, which was very popular in Germany. During the third or fourth season, the producers asked me to create another series, in a similar spirit, but with female characters.
Originally, this project was supposed to be a spin off of 4 Blocks, but we didn’t want to tell a gangster story yet. We first created the characters that could come from the universe of my previous series without being the main protagonists.
It was not easy to create a new series that was not a repetition of what could be done before. It was a big challenge. I also wanted this series to be more fun and less dark than 4 Blocks.
Jeanne and Jobel, you are both young actresses. How did you get into the shoes of your characters?
Jeanne Goursaud : It was quite easy to get into Jazz’s skin because she looks a bit like me. She’s outgoing like me. Ozgur also let us improvise which helped me even more to find the right tone.
I also did a lot of research to better understand where Jazz came from, and for example I spent a lot of time observing young girls who looked like him. And since she’s a dancer I also started to train seriously by learning pole dance and Hip Hop. My body had to adapt to the character.
I also had to learn to walk differently to fully feel myself. I find that she has indeed an almost feline gait.
Jobel Mokonzi : the character that I play, Fanta, is an introvert and I, in life, I am rather extrovert. So it wasn’t easy to change your skin overnight. I too have researched the girls living in these sensitive areas of Berlin to better understand who they are and what their challenges are.
Is directing young women, when you’re a male director, an additional challenge?
Özgür Yildirim : Yes and no. Even though I am a man, as a director I have a method that allows me to put myself in the shoes of the actors I direct. In Para’s case, since the four of them were young women, I let them guide me as much as I guided them myself.
If they told me that they saw a certain scene take place in a different environment than what was written, then we made the change. The same goes for the dialogues: if they told me that they should say this instead of that, I would make the necessary changes.
By giving them this freedom and trusting them, I was sure to get a more authentic result and a stronger expression of their emotions. You have to know how to listen to the actors when you are a director. It made me more sensitive to their needs as an actress.
And you, Jeanne and Jobel, tell us about your collaboration with Ozgur?
Jeanne Goursaud : For him it was a series totally opposite of 4 Blocks which was a very macho series. But he was great because he always asked us what we would do as women, what we could say. He always listened to us even if it was he who guided us in terms of the production.
Jobel Mokonzi : I loved working with Ozgur because it was a real creative collaboration. We wrote most of the dialogue together to make it as realistic as possible.
What themes are explored in Para – We Are King?
Özgür Yildirim : We explore the dream of these young girls from a disadvantaged background who want to have a better life. They just want, for once, to have money and live like the rich. They want to be able to buy what they can’t buy and party like the people they envy.
They want to taste …