Netflix’s Far From Home: Is the TV Show Inspired by a True Story?

Created by Chinaza Onuzo and Damilola Elebe, Netflix’s ‘Far From Home’ is a Nigerian teenage drama series that follows Ishaya Bello, a budding artist from a financially struggling family. Despite his economic condition and limited resources, the teenager wishes to make it big in the art world and give his family the best life possible. Ishaya’s dream becomes a reality when he gets a scholarship to Wilmer Academy, the most prestigious academic institution in the country. However, when he arrives there, he is shocked to see a luxurious environment opposite the one he is from.

After the initial hiccups, Ishaya’s charm and talent help him blend in effortlessly with his elite schoolmates. But just as he adjusts to his new life, a dark secret threatens to destroy everything he has built. Featuring a talent cast comprising actors like Funke Akindele-Bello, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Mike Afolarin, Genoveva Umeh, and Bucci Frankin, the show keeps the audience hooked till the end with its entertaining coming-of-age narrative. Moreover, the relatable characters transport you back to their own school days and make you wonder if ‘Far From Home’ is based on actual events. So, let’s find out if that’s the case, shall we?

Far From Home is an Original Work

No, ‘Far From Home’ is not based on a true story. The original narrative can be credited to the minds of the creators Chinaza Onuzo and Damilola Elebe, who have also written the show. Although it is primarily a work of fiction, the concept mildly draws from Onuzo’s experiences in boarding school. In an interview with Bella Naija, he shared how he came up with the idea for the Netflix series from his struggles adjusting to a new environment as a teenager.

“I left for boarding school in the UK when I was 15. It was the first time I’d been outside Nigeria for any significant length of time and the first time I’d been near a border. From my perspective, it was like entering a whole new world, one that I had never known existed. My time at that school was a transformational experience for me; I found myself in a place where I didn’t initially belong, going through all the stress and wonder of being a teenager. So, when I started thinking about ‘Far From Home,’ I wanted to capture that feeling of needing to be yourself while trying to find your way in a place where you may not appear to belong at first,” said Onuzo.

Elaborating on the meaning of the show’s title and the protagonist’s background, the creator added, “That’s why the show is titled ‘Far From Home’; it’s about trying to find yourself when you are separated from everything you know. To turn the idea into a show, I worked with Dami Elebe, our Head Writer, and we turned that feeling and sense of place into the story of Ishaya Bello, a young artist from Lagos Island, who ends up attending Wilmer Academy, the most prestigious school in Nigeria.”

Onuzo also discussed how the shows he watched as a teenager inspired him to tell similar stories to the world but from a Nigerian perspective. He divulged, “I grew up watching young adult shows from the days of ‘Beverly Hills, 90210‘ through ‘The OC,’ ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ ‘Dawson’s Creek,’ ‘One Tree Hill,’ and many more. They have always been my favorites. I’ve always wanted to tell stories about young people coming of age and finding their place in the world. Young adult stories are exceptional because they capture a time in your life that is full of emotion and drama. As a storyteller, those are some of the greatest stories to tell.”

The creator concluded, “I wanted to partner with Netflix to be part of that movement and to tell a story that had the opportunity to provide a voice for the Nigerian youth and showcase how amazing they are… ‘Far From Home’ is a show about following your dreams, no matter what. It’s fun, gripping, full of relatable characters, and, above all, entertaining. It’s a unique blend of drama, romance, and thrillers. We have not seen anything from Nigeria at this scale focused on young people chasing their dreams.” Thus, even though ‘Far From Home’ is not rooted in reality, the characters’ realistic journeys and themes, such as social disparity, peer pressure, and friendship, make it quite relatable.

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