Nicki Minaj Shines Light on Her Troubled Childhood in New ABC Family Show

Screen-Shot-2015-10-16-at-9.55.23-AM.png On Tuesday, September 29th, ABC Family announced their new collaboration with hip-hop sensation Nicki Minaj, who's spearheading her very own TV show. Produced and featuring the superstar herself, the series will follow Minaj's experience growing up in an immigrant family in Queens, NY during the 90’s. The unnamed project will focus on Minaj’s tween years following the immigration of her family from Trinidad and will document the young Minaj’s rise to hip-hop superstardom.

For anyone who has seen Minaj’s VH1 Behind the Music, it was shocking to find out that the show would be a sitcom. Minaj didn’t exactly have a picture perfect childhood by any interpretation. Her father was a crack addict and abusive to her mother. Minaj even admitted that her father burned her house down, almost killing her mother when she was younger. So, I return to my point… how is ABC Family going to make such a dark plotline, funny or family oriented? It seems that the network may be setting itself up for some controversial comedy with this series.

As far as I can see, there are other concerns surrounding the show as well. First of all, can Nicki Minaj even act? Having seen her (relatively brief) performance in The Other Woman, I can understand how people might be worried. But after some intense Internet stalking, I can assure you that she actually can, and hopefully some of her talent will shine on the small screen.

Minaj attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, a performing arts school in NYC where she pursued an education in acting. She credits her natural acting ability to the alter egos she created for herself to help her cope with a tough childhood. Those alter egos were also evident in the beginning of her career, rooting back to her crazy wigs days and bizarre outfit choices (which had everyone wondering if she was unstable or just taking a page out of Lady Gaga’s book of publicity stunts). But seriously, some videos have surfaced online of a young Minaj, then Onika Maraj, acting in some skits for her classes. If you’re feeling bored one day, watch them… she kills it.

One major setback for the new series will be the fact that NBC plans on debuting a sitcom based on the life of fellow musician Bruno Mars around the same time that Nicki Minaj’s show will debut. The show will showcase the singer as a tween moving in with his musical aunt and discovering his passion for music. In contrast, much of Mars’s story will be tweaked for the series and the singer will have much less creative control over the project than Minaj, since the show is only loosely based on his life.

As an executive producer of her series, Minaj will have a huge influence on what is allowed to be in her show and what is not. With ABC Family slowly trying to transition away from their reputation as a “family” network, she will have more freedom than ever before to be as racy and honest with her story as she pleases. Being familiar with her uncensored and no bullshit personality, the show will definitely not hold back and will surely push some boundaries. Also, with the ABC Family demographic being mostly teenagers and millennials, Minaj will reach the same demographic that worships her music and her brand, which is a huge predictor of the show’s hopeful success.

As seen in the past, ABC Family shows made for teens have impressive staying power on the network. Pretty Little Liars has been on air for 6 seasons with a loyal following despite the fact that viewers have been faked out about who “A” is for about five long, disappointing years. Hopefully, Minaj’s sitcom will see similar success with a less frustrating plot line and include more relatable and realistic tween characters (because seriously, the Liars would have gone to the police years ago and no one wears five inch stilettos to public high school every day).

While Minaj's fans wait for more details about the series, many are most excited about the casting announcements. It hasn’t even been announced who Nicki will play, since the show takes place when the rapper is 10 years old (aka playing herself is out of the question, at least for the first season). It’ll really all depend on how they structure the story. Many think that Minaj will play her mother, Carol Maraj, or a teacher at her performing arts high school. What’s even more exciting though is the anticipation of seeing who will be casted to play a young Onika. It isn’t hard to see that Minaj is a perfectionist when it comes to her work… people in the industry even sometimes accusing her of "diva behavior." This is a pretty solid indicator that Minaj will most likely be picky about who she chooses to play and who will play her role. My official prediction is Quvenzhané Wallis, and if I’m right, I will have this article as permanent reinforcement to my bragging rights.

Although I still have my doubts, if Nicki Minaj can overcome the animal print jumpsuits and terrifying wigs of 2011, I believe she’s capable of doing pretty much anything she sets her mind to. The show is still in its early planning stages, but audiences can look forward to seeing it air as soon as next year.

CultureLindsay CurreComment