Netflix celebrates the women creatives behind Africa’s booming entertainment industry

Netflix’s celebrated Strong Black Female Leads.Photo supplied by Netflix.
Netflix’s celebrated Strong Black Female Leads.Photo supplied by Netflix.
  • Netflix is recognising the immense talent Africa has to offer and celebrates creatives from across the continent.
  •  At the forefront are black women who are telling unique African stories.
  • Creatives from Blood & Water, Queen Sono, JIVA! and more discuss the Netflix and African content.

In the wake of a global uprising, where women, as suggested by Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi vowed to ‘take up space’, showing up and showing off their prowess, strength and tenacity, it only feels right to shine the spotlight on African female creatives taking up space on the global streaming platform. From actresses to directors, producers and choreographers, our women can do it all. 

READ MORE: 8 women filmmakers who've given us stories and roles that have never been seen before 

The world’s eyes are finally on the African continent, a place Ama Qamata, rising South African star of Blood & Water, Netflix’s second African original series calls home. She says, “As Africans, we finally have the chance to showcase our talent and tell our narrative from our perspective. I think that for a very long time others have told our stories and what we are going through. I am so excited to be part of this change”.

Netflix gathered 18 eclectic creatives from across the continent to speak to and celebrate their stories that are currently, or soon to be, on the streaming platform in a moment captured on film titled, ‘Made By Africans, Watched by the World’. Twelve of them are incredible females, from all walks of life and all parts of Africa, coming together to own their moment. 

Netflix recognises that African talent is immense, and is celebrating creatives from across the continent, without whom, telling these unique stories would not be possible. It’s about the talent, it’s about the creatives, it’s about Africa, and Africa is now.  

One such talented creative, Gaopalelwe Kabe – a Johannesburg-based SAFTA-award-nominee cinematographer, has made waves in a white, male-dominated entertainment industry. She has worked on South Africa’s top shows and now, as cinematographer for Africa’s third Netflix Original, JIVA!, she says, “Our stories are going to have a global reach. The African content will be taken in by the world because we’ve got rich stories and great talent.’’ 

READ MORE: Movies with women in the lead role do better on the big screen than movies with men leads study finds 

Pearl Thusi, 'South Africa’s Khaleesi' and star of Queen Sono and Catching Feelings, speaks passionately, saying, “It's in everyone's best interest to involve Africa in what they are doing right now. It's been a long time coming and long overdue. I am so excited that it is Netflix who is bringing African content to the world. Africa is so intriguing to the rest of the world as there really is nothing like the beat of the African drum. It resonates with everyone. It's not often that African content is presented by black people from Africa and that is something I am very proud to be part of”. 

On Netflix’s investment in the African continent, Dorothy Ghetubba – born and bred in Kenya and Manager for African Original series – adds that “Netflix believes that great stories come from anywhere and that the more local a story the better. We support the African film industry in several ways. These include commissioning originals, acquiring and licensing titles and local production,” also highlighting that “knowledge transfer is important to us, which is why partnering with storytellers all over the world allows us to learn from them as they learn from us”. 

South African creative, Nosipho Dumisa  – who is the writer, director and producer for Blood & Water – says that as a female filmmaker, one of the key things you hope and dream for is to have your story represented on a global stage, and adds, “It’s amazing to see so many creative Africans, experienced and up-coming, coupled in one space, on one platform telling stories for our people and being the ones in charge of everything, from creating the stories to how we tell them- it’s incredibly special.’’

READ MORE: We talk to 2 strong leads from the new Netflix series that's all about badass women 

Busisiwe Ntintili, the South African showrunner for JIVA!, expands on this by saying “it’s a fresh approach in terms of storytelling because there are so many stories that come out of this continent that haven’t been heard before - it’s just going to open up the entertainment industry and people’s viewpoints about what Africa really is.’’

It’s truly incredible to see the strong bodies of work coming out of Africa, starring women, created by women who are showcasing their talent and leveling out the playing field with their male counterparts. 

Chi Mhende, Zimbabwean actress who plays Miri in Queen Sono says, “In order to appreciate great content, you don’t have to be from just one corner of Africa or the world. People will be able to see infrastructure, technology, language, understanding of what books we share and what books we’ve all read together.’’ 

READ MORE: "I'm a strong black lead" - 3 local illustrators share what inclusion on Netflix shows means for them 

Writer of Mama K’s Team 4, Malenga Mulendema from Zambia, says “Like any other storyteller across the globe, we are just trying to tell our stories and explore our lives and communities that we live in so it’s incredible that Netflix gave us a voice to do so globally.” 

Genevieve Nnaji, Nigerian all-round creative, echoes this, “It’s a good thing, especially for upcoming artists who want a chance. We have so many more stories to tell in this part of the world.’’

Bontle Moloi, choreographer and actress in South African original JIVA! expands on this, saying, “Netflix are putting African talent on the pedestal they truly deserve to be on. It’s about showing off who we are and saying it from our perspective and it not being sold to us but rather coming from us.’’ 

The list of Netflix’s celebrated Strong Black Female Leads contributing to African storytelling both on and off the screens include:

Malenga Mulendema - Writer (Mama K’s Team 4) - Zambia

Pearl Thusi - Actress (Catching Feelings and Queen Sono) - Johannesburg, South Africa

Nosipho Dumisa - Writer, Director and Producer ( (Blood & Water) - Cape Town, South Africa

Genevieve Nnaji - Actress, Director and Producer (Untitled Akin Omotoso project) - Nigeria

Gaopalelwe Kabe - Cinematographer (JIVA!) - Johannesburg, South Africa

Chi Mhende - Actress (Queen Sono) - Harare, Zimbabwe

Busisiwe Ntintili - Writer (JIVA!), Director and Producer - Johannesburg, South Africa

Kate Henshaw - Actress (Untitled Akin Omotoso project) - Nigeria

Ama Qamata - Actress (Blood & Water) - Johannesburg, South Africa

Bontle Moloi - Choreographer (Jiva!) - Johannesburg, South Africa

Dorothy Ghettuba - Manager, Africa Original Series - Kenya

Who are some of your favourite African creatives? Tell us here.

Compiled by Phelokazi Mbude

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