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It’s no secret that breaking into the acting business can be tough—even with some 400 or so television shows on-air these days. Actors are always talking about gruelling auditions, having to face multiple rejections and the stiff competition that pretty much makes up the entirety of Hollywood.

So it’s easy to understand why most parents don’t want that career path for their children, even when they also want their kids to follow their dreams. There’s something to be said for a steady paycheque, right?

Over the years that struggle has certainly been real for parents of even notable actors (like Canada’s own Sandra Oh), and it was definitely something that the star of Chuck Lorre’s latest CTV sitcom, Bob Hearts Abishola, felt from her Nigerian parents when she got the acting bug.

Despite being the youngest of 20 kids (yep, you read that right—20 kids), Folake Olowofoyeku’s folks expected her to follow the family pursuits of law or politics rather than music, which she really wanted to do. So she enrolled in economics at a school in New York, where slowly but surely acting crept up on her.

“I was born knowing what I wanted, what I was sent to this world for, and so acting, I deduced, would be like a happy medium from music. And so I kind of just fell into it,” she told us Thursday in Toronto during the CTV Upfronts. “I was in New York and I was supposed to be studying economics and then going onto law school. I started with a major in economics, but graduated with a major in theatre.”

Since then Olowofoyeku has landed several small parts in series like Transparent, Modern Family and How To Get Away With Murder, but it’s her role as Abishola in this new comedy that’s going to put her on the map.

That’s because it’s co-created by Lorre, who is the producer responsible for shows like Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory. He’s pretty much up there with Shonda Rhimes in terms of important Hollywood producers whose shows you want to be on. So believe us when we say that people are paying attention to this one.

Bob Hearts Abishola revolves around a compression socks salesman named Bob (Billy Gardell) who suffers a heart attack. While in the hospital a nurse named Abishola (Olowofoyeku) makes an undeniable impression on him with a little song she sings to help him feel better, and a good old fashioned romantic pursuit ensues.

“This is the first time from what I’ve heard, that a relationship like this is happening on television and on such a large scale,” Olowofoyeku said. “Perhaps we wouldn’t be sitting here five years ago but I guess what’s most important is that people are hungry for this and it supports the sort of imagery that we want—that I think a majority of people want out there right now.”

That includes, we suppose, the actress’ parents. Because even though they weren’t on board with their daughter’s career choice from the outset, she says they’ve since come around.

“There’s this family joke that my older brother became a doctor and he took his diploma to my father. My father was like, ‘Okay. Now you can go study law,’” she says with a laugh. “But my mom came around. She would visit and check out my shows and she got it.”

Sounds like soon the rest of the TV-viewing world will soon get it too.

 

Bob Hearts Abishola premieres this fall on CTV.