‘Queen Sono’ is Netflix’s first South African original

Queen Sono

We are entering a new era of content in Nigeria. For far too long, a handful of gatekeepers have controlled funding for projects in Nigeria and shut out new talent with new ideas. Driven primarily by financial bottom lines, we have been subjected to a revolving door of mediocre comedy sitcoms and tepid dramas whose only sales pitch is the roster of high profile actors heading  its character roles. But things are finally being shaken up by streaming giant Netflix. In 2018, it bought Genevieve Nnaji’s ‘Lion Heart’ after it was debuted at the Toronto International Film festival opening a new funnel for distribution. This year, they debut their first Netflix scripted original ‘Queen Sono’.

What is a Netflix original, you ask?

A Netflix original is a show or film that is commissioned directly and funded by the streaming giant. Netflix commissions a number of original scripted series across the world with shows like Sex Education from the UK and Elite from Italy, showcasing stories unique to those regions but shot in such a way that it appeals to a global audience. Queen Sonobreaks the mold as the first scripted series the giant is commissioning from Africa and stars Pearl Thusi, who according to the stories behind the film, was inspired by the long history of Bond Girls and wanted to create Africa’s first Bond Girl.

A lot is riding on the success of the show. It features a genre many African filmmakers have argued against as not lucrative and features a lot of relatively unknown actors as part of its core cast. Thusi has the star power to carry the show and if the show is successful, it will encourage other filmmakers to look away from local financiers to global streaming services to partner on their future projects, which in our opinion is a good thing.

It is too soon to tell if Queen Sono will be a campy comedic thriller or if it will be a no-nonsense no-holds barred action thriller. Either way, we are excited for it.

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