Netflix ordered two seasons of an untitled docuseries about African queens. The project comes from Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Westbrook Studios and Nutopia, with Pinkett Smith set to executive produce.
“As the mother of a young Black woman, it is immensely important to me that she learns the lessons of the African Queens who paved the way for our succeass and the success of generations of Black women,” said Pinkett Smith. “I am very passionate and excited about bringing the stories and lessons of these powerful women to light in order to showcase their strength, leadership, and undeniable influence on history.”
Written by Peres Owino (Bound: Africans vs African-Americans) and NneNne Iwuji (Yellow), the series will use expert interviews and documentary content with premium scripted docudrama/re-enactments. Each season will focus on a different queen starting with Cleopatra and Njinga.
Season one will focus on Cleopatra, as her heritage has been the subject of much academic debate, which has often been ignored by Hollywood. Cleopatra was believed to be a descendant of the Ptolemaic dynasty, which would give her Greek and possibly Persian ancestry but there have been theories that she might have been part North African. The often cited 1946 book by J.A. Rogers “World’s Great Men Of Color” argues that she may have been Black. The series will re-assess that part of her story, engaging in the ongoing discussion.
Season two will feature Njinga, the complex, captivating, and fearless 17th century warrior queen of Matamba and Ndongo, in modern day Angola. The nation’s first female ruler, Njinga earned a reputation for her blend of political and diplomatic skill with military prowess and became an icon of resistance.
The docuseries will be a co-production of Westbrook Studios and Nutopia. Pinkett Smith, Miguel Melendez, Terence Carter, Sahara Bushue and David Boorstein will executive produce for Westbrook Studios, along with Jane Root and Ben Goold for Nutopia.