Today, Netflix announced that it has given an order for a docuseries about Queens in African history, from Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Westbrook Studios, along with Nutopia. Pinkett-Smith is slated to executive produce the series.
Co-written by NneNne Iwuji and Peres Owino, the currently untitled Netflix series will focus on one queen each season: beginning with Cleopatra in season 1. The second season will highlight Njinga, and both will contain interviews from field experts and premium content with scripted re-enactments.
Cleopatra’s season will cover the life of the Egyptian queen whose beauty and romantic endeavor came to overshadow her uncredited intellectual prowess. Cleopatra’s heritage has been the subject of much academic debate, which has often been historically ignored by Hollywood. The series will reevaluate those parts of her life, possibly changing the narrative.
The last active ruler of the Ptolemiac Kingdom of Egypt, Cleopatra has been portrayed by white American and European as well as Middle Eastern actresses. She was believed to have had Greek and possibly Persian ancestry but there have been theories that have stated otherwise.
The second season features Njinga, the fearless 17th-century warrior queen of Matamba and Ndongo, which is now Angola. The nation’s first female ruler, she earned a reputation for her balance of political, diplomatic, and military-minded leadership. For many present-day followers, she has become known for resistance and perseverance.
“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 success and the success of generations of Black women,” Pinkett Smith told Deadline. “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.”
While still unclear when the docuseries will air, Pinkett Smith, Miguel Melendez, Terence Carter, Sahara Bushue and David Boorstein will executive produce the project for Westbrook Studios, along with Jane Root and Ben Goold for Nutopia.