ENTERTAINMENT

How Mikki Vs The World uses its smarts and humour to tackle hard topics

Actress Chika Ikogwe strikes gold as Mikki.
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There is some truth behind the saying “the dreaded teen years”, but the new ABC show Mikki Vs The World is flipping this idea on its head by creating a fun and intelligent space to navigate the complex teen years. 

WATCH: Mikki vs The World ABC show trailer.

The homegrown series is a high-energy comedy show which explores topics like mental health, crushes, risk-taking and more to help teenagers understand what is going on in their heads.

The show follows newly graduated psychologist Mikki aka Dr M, who has opened her first practice as she tries to tackle what is going on in the minds of teenagers with help from her team of experts and friends.

The show also features real-life advice from local teenagers, sporting heroes, musicians, comedians and experts.

Some exciting guests include Osher Gunsberg, Courtney Act, The Veronicas, Nazeem Hussain and G Flip.

It’s not a surprise that 25-year-old Chika Ikogwe, who plays Mikki, was a self-professed class clown as a teenager because she brings the show to life with her zeal and electric comedic chops.

While it might be Chika’s first role on TV, her theatre and musical background has clearly influenced her captivating portrayal of Chika.

Girlfriend caught up with Chika to talk about why the show is so important, for both teens and adults, getting to used to watching herself on TV and why representation and diversity on Australian TV is still a work in progress…

“I think like most people when they hear their voice I was like ‘oh my gosh is that what I sound like, is that what I look like, is that what my face is doing,’ I had a bit of that,” she tells us of how confronting it can be to watch the show back.

“But also knowing how powerful the show is, and how many people it is going to have an impact on, I am like it’s worth it, this is worth it, I am watching my face and being like ‘I am doing it for the kids.'”

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The show tackles uncomfortable subjects with humour. (Credit: Supplied)

Chika is right to point out how important this show is because there is nothing on Australian TV that captures the woes of teenhood with such nuance and depth.

The creators of the series made sure that they were well researched, and as a result, the hard topics are handled with a unique edge that even adults can learn from.

“I think it was deliberate in delivering both parts of that to make sure it was informative, really authentic to the facts, but also really fun and really light-hearted because talking about these things can be pretty heavy,” the actor explains. 

“The team really wanted to make sure it wasn’t a lecture; they wanted to make it super lighthearted and just fun and fresh.”

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Chika as Mikki. (Credit: Supplied)

The show’s creators worked with Kids Helpline to draw on authentic advice and meld that information with the writer’s incredible comedic talents to help foster high-quality, informative content.

“I think the show delivers information and deals with such heavy stuff in such a smart way, and sometimes you don’t even realise you are learning stuff because you are so entertained and having so much fun,” the 25-year-old notes. 

“When I was watching episodes back, I was like ‘Oh my god that is exactly the same thing I felt, whether that was last week or when I was in high school or primary school’, and they (the show) have just articulated it so perfectly that I feel like I have a sense of closure, like ‘yes, I am whole now,'” Chika says.  

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“I think the show delivers information and deals with such heavy stuff in such a smart way.” (Credit: Supplied)

Chika tells Girlfriend that she has always loved “helping people, watching people smile and entertaining them in some way.”

However, acting did not seem like a viable career choice growing up, and the rising star was originally going to study medicine until she summoned the courage to pursue drama. 

Chika comes from a Nigerian family, and acting is not usually a career that is encouraged, but she is aware that there is a genuine reason why that’s the case, and it ultimately comes from a place of love. 

“I am Nigerian, and it’s not a common thing for a Nigerian to do and to aspire to be in the arts; it is either medicine, nursing or engineering; those are kind of the staple career paths, but acting is not anywhere near that, so I really verged,” she explains. 

“But I completely understand, because our parents did so much to get us here and to have the life that we have now, so I think in retrospect I completely understand why you [parents] would have reservations about your child, and someone that you love so much going into something that may not be super stable, so its always with best interest,” Chika says. 

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“It is so incredible, and I feel so privileged to hopefully be the representation that I wanted to see when I was young.” (Credit: Supplied)

Representation and diversity on Australian TV are still a work in progress, but despite this lag that’s stunted the industry over the years, there is now a Nigerian-Australian woman playing the lead in an ABC production – which is an important step forward.

“It is so incredible, and I feel so privileged to hopefully be the representation that I wanted to see when I was young, the representation that lacked when I was growing up, people are already reaching out to me saying ‘I wish there were something like this on TV when I was younger, but I am going to be watching it anyways,'” she says. 

The opportunity to be a role model is something Chika is ready to accept with open arms, and she is excited about the show’s inevitable impact on its audience.

“I just can’t wait for young people who are black or from whatever background seeing someone who looks different on Australian TV,” the performer points out. 

“And hopefully, if acting or something is what they wanted to do that it becomes a real thing for them, and the possibility of doing that comes a little bit more real.”

“Hopefully, I can be that role model for them.”

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Mikki’s wonderful world helps elevate the topics discussed on the show. (Credit: Supplied)

Although Chika didn’t have a hand in choosing which celebrities were featured on the show, she is stoked by the producer’s choices and is hopeful that their contribution will offer some comfort to viewers.

“I think it’s really amazing they had celebrities because you know hopefully there are some young people who see their celeb idol and think, ‘Oh my god, my celeb idol is going through this thing that I literally went through yesterday,'” she laughs.

You can find Mikki vs the World on ABC iview.

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