The sci-fi crime series, Kings of Joburg, is based on the Masire brothers, who rule Johannesburg’s criminal underworld but have a supernatural family curse, and a tangled web of betrayal threatens to destroy them.
Shona Ferguson stars as Simon. The charming Simon leads the family business. Zolisa Xaluva portrays the role of Mogomotsi “Mo” Masire, Simon’s younger brother and ex-convict who finds himself having to choose between the life that got him in jail and honouring his responsibilities to the crime family and the older brother he loves.
The cast includes Connie Ferguson, Llewellyn Cordier, Abdul Khoza, Cindy Mahlangu, Lunathi Mampofu, Tsholofelo Matshaba, Sello Sebotsane and Thembi Seete.
The name of the show, Kings of Joburg, came to Shona, four years ago as he wrote the show.
“I love the city of Joburg. It’s so colourful and I’ve always felt as though if you do a show, you want to focus on the city you live in. Talent in South Africa is world-class and this is my opportunity to bring that to the world stage.”
Shona spoke to The Citizen about being the lead, director, and producer of the internationally screened series.
Q: From the get-go, Kings of Joburg didn’t have a home until it was picked up by Netflix. How did this happen?
Shona: When it started no-one knew where it would be screened but we as the Ferguson production house had so much faith. We wanted to own something different. The pilot was shot and we decided to shop it around to see who would pick up on it and buy it. At the time of working on the third episode, we got the Netflix contact.
Q: There is an American element to the series. How did this happen?
Shona: I have an American partner, his name is Samad Davis. He’s based in Atlanta. We combined our talents and came up with a cross-platform show that resonates with local and international audiences. Locally people in South Africa want shows that cater to our market first and we wanted to meet that need with an international appeal. I also wanted to allow local artists to be seen on the global stage.
Q: You play the lead role, actor, and the director. Was that difficult?
Shona: In all honesty, it’s the reason I vacated my role on the Mzansi TV show The Queen. It’s the hardest thing to pull off and almost impossible. I wasn’t supposed to be the lead on Kings of Joburg, it just turned out that way. The lead was written for Zolisa, then the crew suggested we switch the roles. We work as a team so everyone’s input is key.
Q: This is possibly the most star-studded cast in local production. Did all these big-name actors audition?
Shona: Having been in this industry for 17 years, I’ve learned that no-one is bigger than the project. Most of the actors who star in Kings of Joburg believed in it before they fully knew the script. They were all busy but they all auditioned. Zolisa was on The Throne at the time, Tsholo was and is still on The River, Abdul was on Isibaya and his brother SK had just wrapped up the previous season of The Queen but with loads of patience, we made it work.
Q: People are asking for a season two, saying six episodes are not enough. Can you give us any information on that?
Shona: I can’t say much. I think there will be announcements made if necessary. But maybe the audience should know that the show is still new and there are time constraints and the good thing is we are getting positive audience feedback locally and internationally.