Fierce, defiant and deadly is how global streaming giant Netflix bills its first script-to-screen, fully South Africa-produced African Original series, Queen Sono, which premieres today in 190 countries around the world.
Then again, considering the budget (said to be the largest spent on an African Original to date) and size of the production (18 lead and support actors and 65 on-set crew members) Netflix’s competitors are probably choking on their own not-too-kind adjectives.
And yet nothing could dampen the excitement of the world’s leading internet entertainment service as the massive all-local Queen Sono cast, crew and Netflix executives strutted down the red carpet at a gala event in Johannesburg last night.
Speaking of her lead role at the series premiere held at the Joburg theatre in Braamfontein last night, Pearl Thusi said that she hopes the show and investment that Netflix has put into the show bring about a new era for African and South African cinema. “A lot of the monopolised industry is going to change the way they behave towards artists and production crews”.
Thusi also hopes that audiences are inspired by the series as it reflects many aspects of South African culture.
With 167 million paying subscribers in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages, Dorothy Ghettuba, Head of African Originals at Netflix, says the continent has a wealth of diversity, multiplicity and beauty in stories that have yet to be told.
Creator and executive producer, Kagiso Lediga spoke of the series as being important because it tells African stories. Part of the aim of the story is to change the perception of Africa being a monolithic state and understand that Africa has multiple facets.
“I’m excited that in the same week that we’re launching Queen Sono, we had the opportunity to be here in Lagos with Nigerian storytellers to share plans of our first Nigerian original production,” said Ghettuba.
Queen Sono is not the first Netflix series to come out of South Africa, but it is the biggest and first to be to be launched simultaneously across Netflix’s streaming channels.
Other South African Netflix originals include Shadow, Trevor Noah: Son of Patricia and Catching Feeling. However, these were not released on the scale that Queen Sono is being released.
This, says Netflix, is in line with their goal to invest more in the African creative community and to bring more stories to their audiences all around the world. This is already evident the number of Netflix content coming out of Nigeria.
Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s Chief Content Officer said: “Movies like King of Boys, Merry Men and The Bling Lagosian have shown how much our subscribers love Nigerian movies.
“So, we’re incredibly excited to be investing in Made in Nigeria stories and bringing them to audiences all around the world.”
In a similar vein to Shadow, Queen Sono is a fast-paced and high action six-part series that starring Pearl Thusi in the lead as an unconventional spy working for an undercover South African agency devoted to protecting the people of Africa.
Shot in 37 locations across Johannesburg and including the likes Vuyo Dabula (as Shandu), Sechaba Morojele (as Dr Sid) and Abigail Kubekha (as Mazet, Queen’s beloved Gogo) among others – Queen Sono is one of the most anticipated Netflix Original Series to come out of South Africa and is currently available for download on the streaming platform.
Video: Carlos Muchave