'Queen Sono' renewed for second season
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"Queen Sono" makes history by getting the nod for a follow-up series a mere two months after the first African Original series debuted on Netflix.
Given that "Shadow", another original local series released last year, it speaks volumes for the appeal of this espionage series, with Kagiso Lediga and Tebogo Malope sharing the director credits.
Even Hollywood actress Gabrielle Union sent mad love to the "Quantico" actress when she tweeted: “Today’s #WCW is the talented @PearlThusi. I met Pearl randomly in a bar in Barcelona right after watching her movie 'Catching Feelings' & I fanned out! She is the kind of woman that’s a superstar for all the right reasons. She is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, mother & more.”
Funnily enough, Thusi’s knack for leaving an indelible impression on those she works with or crosses paths is how "Queen Sono" was born.
Days before the South African red carpet premiere in February, I got to chat with Lediga, who is also the showrunner and co-executive producer.
During our tête-à-tête, he couldn’t stop singing Thusi’s praises. He gushed about her acting prowess and her eagerness to dive in, especially when it came to those physically-demanding action sequences.
And he explained how she inspired "Queen Sono" by planting an idea of a powerful female lead when they worked together on "Catching Feelings".
He recalled: “Pearl had this video of her fights she was doing for her training in The Scorpion King. She said, Whatever it is let’s do something physical. She wanted to do a 'Tomb Raider' kinda thing. Myself and Tamsin (Anderson) have been developing a spy satire movie kinda thing and we went, ‘Hey, why not make a spy female lead’. We pitched it and here we are.”
Pearl Thusi in a scene from the Netflix espionage thriller, "Queen Sono". Picture: Netflix
He added: “I think she is great. There’s a certain kind of naughtiness that Pearl has and what kind of imbued into Queen Sono. I think that energy, that twinkle in the eye that Pearl naturally has is something we wanted to have.”
The series garnered favourable reviews across the globe, barring a few scathing write-ups, too.
Overall, the masses have spoken.
In the second season, Queen’s unquenchable thirst for revenge takes her on a mission across Africa. Of course, her mission is fraught with family issues and a rather complicated love life.
Thusi will be joined by favourites from season one: Shandu Jackson (Vuyo Dabula), Miri Dube (Chi Mhende), Dr Sidwell Issacs (Sechaba Morojele), Frederique Kazadi (Loyiso Madinga), Viljoen (Rob Van Vuuren), Ekaterina Gromova (Kate Liquorish), William Chakela (Khathu Ramabulana) and Nova (Enhle Mbali Mlotswa).
In a statement issued by Netflix, Lediga said: “I am so excited by the appetite for African stories and that Netflix is continuing to partner with us to bring to life the next chapter of Queen’s story and showcase it to the world.”
As the head of African Original Series at Netflix, Dorothy Ghettuba added: “The first season of 'Queen Sono' marked the beginning of our journey to introduce the world to exciting stories that are made in Africa. It was an unprecedented representation of a strong female black lead in African television.
"In the first season of 'Queen Sono', we saw grit and glamour, strength and vulnerability, as well as the past and the present, converge into a powerful narrative that explored the complexities and nuances of the African experience.
"Kagiso Lediga and the Diprente team delivered a compelling story that resonated with our viewers and we can’t wait to see what they have in store for 'Queen Sono' in this coming season.”
Production for season two is expected to roll out later this year.
In the meantime, the attention of viewers is also directed to "Blood & Water", which is a youth drama set in Cape Town, South Africa, as well as Akin Omotoso’s animated flagship project, "Mama K’s Team Four".
Africa’s incredibly talented individuals continue making their mark on the Netflix podium.