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There’s plenty of bling, high fashion and melodrama in ‘Young, Famous & African’

Nadia Nakai, Kayleigh Schwark and Khanyi Mbau in ‘Young, Famous & African’. Picture: Mosa Hlophe/Netflix

Nadia Nakai, Kayleigh Schwark and Khanyi Mbau in ‘Young, Famous & African’. Picture: Mosa Hlophe/Netflix

Published Mar 13, 2022

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When we think of the rich and famous, Hollywood becomes a default benchmark.

This mindset has not only been dominant for the longest time, it has been propagated through shows like “Keeping Up With The Kardashians”, “Bling Empire”, “Selling Sunset” and “The Real Housewives” franchise.

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Meanwhile, the African continent is generally put down for its disease outbreaks, poverty, apartheid struggles and political wars.

Zari Hassan (Zari The Boss Lady) in “Young, Famous & African”. Picture: Mosa Hlophe/Netflix

But this soiled perception of Africa is about to get a serious shake-up with ‘Young, Famous & African’, which releases on Netflix on Friday, March 18.

This unscripted reality show offers a front-row seat to the life of everyone’s favourite A-list personalities across the African continent: Khanyi Mbau, Diamond Platnumz, Nadia Nakai, Jeremiah Ogbodo (aka Swanky Jerry), Annie Macaulay-Idibia, Andile Ncube, Naked DJ, Zari Hassan (Zari the Boss Lady), 2Baba and Kayleigh Schwark.

These stars are not just pioneering in their respective fields, they are filthy rich, too. Think private jets, luxury supercars and designer wardrobes.

On any given day, they are a walking runway catalogue.

While the cast members are from South Africa, Nigeria and East Africa, they either know each other from travelling in the same circles or know of each other.

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Shot in Joburg, which is where everyone connected, the show captures their frustrations, dating woes, private beefs as well as hopes and dreams of the cast.

Annie Macaulay Idibia with Jeremiah Ogbodo (aka Swanky Jerry) in “Young, Famous & African”. Picture: Mosa Hlophe/Netflix

Friendships are tested and so too are the relationships.

Living under the glare of media, trolls, as well as fans, is par for the course. But it doesn’t mean the stars have to like it or can dodge scandals.

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In my recent Zoom interview with DJ Quinton “Naked DJ” Masina, Zari the Boss Lady and Peace Hyde, who is a co-creator and executive producer on the show, they unpacked why “Young, Famous & African” is a watershed moment for the industry.

Naked DJ said: “Being chosen as one of the creams of the crop of the African continent and to be part of a young cast, it’s something you cannot describe.

“It’s a childhood dream come true and it’s just great to be that chosen few that is here to represent the continent because the continent is rich in culture and just everything. And to be the guys spearheading everything, it’s an honour that you can’t describe.”

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He said: “ From my side there were no no-go areas, even when they came into my home and asked can we shoot here, can we shoot there, I said, look, I want to showcase who I am. My ups and downs. My family. Stuff I go through with my girlfriend. Things I go through as a father. I said, it’s my life and it’s a reality show and I want you to show.”

Quinton Masina (Naked DJ) with Kayleigh in “Young, Famous & African”. Picture: Mosa Hlophe/Netflix

Naked DJ is dating a much younger Kayleigh. But when you are with someone all the time, it can become too much. This appears to be his predicament.

Hyde confirmed that the idea for the show has been simmering for four years now. And that it took a village to make it a reality.

She said: “The original vision for the show was between myself and Martin, my co-creator.

“And we started this four years ago. At that time, Netflix didn’t have a strong presence in Africa but we had this idea that we wanted to show people the Africa we were experiencing.

She said: “Nothing like this had been done before and people weren’t used to the idea of showing their personal lives in Africa to a global audience.

“And it has been very challenging to be able to get a beautiful cast to trust us to tell their authentic stories. It is not scripted, it is not faked for the cameras. These are real people showing their real lives but, more importantly, it was getting people to understand that it was a celebration of Africa.

“For so many years, we’ve had people tell us what Africa is like and demonstrate to the rest of the world what Africa is like but we’ve never had the opportunity to give Africans a platform to tell their own authentic stories, which are very similar to people in the diaspora and beyond.

“So when we look at the cast that we have, we were really just trying to show people in their real lives celebrating the authentic perception of what it means to be African in this current contemporary day and age, and I think it is very important to emphasise.”

Of course, everyone has their own unique personality and that couldn’t be clearer than with the cat fights and misunderstandings.

That said, Zari said: “We are like family now and yes, I would do it again (if there’s a second season).”

Related Topics:

NetflixKhanyi Mbau

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