Actor and comedian Steven Chuks has spent the last two years steadily building a repertoire of characters with robust backstories and unique quirks via his Instagram account. Leaning heavily on his Igbo heritage and the family dynamics of millennial families, Chuks has been able to enrapture a corner of the internet with a fanbase that includes celebrities like Zina Anumundu. But of Chuk’s repertoire of characters, his most enduring and instantly recognizable is Ms. Cleopatra Williams, an archetypal alpha, who embraces her singleness, condescends to everyone around her and holds herself to unbelievably high standards.Cleopatra’s comedic geniuses comes from her having to navigate a world where everyone feels deathly inferior and how her refusal to compromise forces her to engage in increasingly histrionic behaviour.
Williams has become a huge part of the Steven Chuks oeuvre, she has her own Instagram profile, skits dedicated to her antics, a #CleopatraWalk that gained significant traction when it was launched, and now her very own scripted reality tv show on Youtube. Youtube has become the ultimate home for video content creators seeking to make the transition from depending on brand collaborations and sponsored content as a source of revenue. With its creator programme and its options to earn revenue from ads, Instagram comedians are slowly transitioning their continent or expanding them for Youtube audiences. Cleo Unfiltered, Steven Chuks scripted show serving Cleopatra Williams is a natural progression from Youtube and an opportunity for him to properly flesh out her character arcs and make her a viable option for scripted shows and films.
Comedic drag is having a mainstream moment thanks to shows like Ru Paul’s drag race and Williams strikes an interesting balance between meeting Nigeria’s conservative sensibilities and our need for a very specific brand of humour that exaggerates femininity for laughs. We are only one episode into Cleo Unfiltered, but if it has any of the staying power of Chuk’s Instagram comedic career, it might be something to watch out for.