I’m not gonna lie, after binge watching an epic show on Netflix, it takes me a while to find another one to get stuck into. And if you’re the same, let me save you some hassle by suggesting a flick packed with secret agents, killer outfits, beautiful landscapes and of course, a compelling storyline.
It’s called Queen Sono, and it’s Netflix’s first African original series. You’re going to want to jump into your favourite spot on the couch, grab your Uber Eats and get comfy because you won’t want to leave once you start watching it.
The series is like the show 24, but with an absolutely stunning, headstrong woman in the leading role. It stars South African actor Pearl Thusi as the main character, Queen – a crime fighting secret agent who’s also trying to find out who killed her mother. She takes matters into her own hands (literally) and fights to get the information she needs.
The series was created by South African comedian and director Kagiso Lediga and is mainly set in South Africa. It sees Queen and her colleagues at the Special Operations Group find intel to capture criminals, whether that means trying to hack into their devices or going undercover at glamorous events.
Thusi told PEDESTRIAN.TV she was involved with the series right from the start, working with Lediga to make it happen and contributing to it the whole way through. The duo had also teamed up previously for the Netflix film Catching Feelings.
“I went to him and explained I wanted to do something that would empower young Black women,” Thusi said. “I was there at the very beginning and then he put the rest of it together which was awesome.”
What I enjoyed about Queen Sono was how it wasn’t just set in South Africa, but takes us to other African countries like Zimbabwe, Kenya and Tanzania, with a refreshing take on the issues some African countries face like corruption and exploitation.
Better yet, it doesn’t stick to the often negative stereotypes about Africa. Instead the show focuses on those who are willing to fight for freedom using modern technology. For Thusi, Queen Sono is important because it shows Africa in a different light.
“[It] showed African people in a renewed and very authentic light for the rest of the world to see – how we act, what we look like and what we actually sound like,” she said. “Having Africans in control of the narrative is also very important for inclusion and representation.”
The fight scenes are realistic and impactful. In fact, the major clash in Queen’s apartment was Thusi’s favourite to shoot.
“It’s also one of the scenes I have received the most compliments around,” she said. “It was a badass moment!”
There’s even a little Aussie connection in the film. In the very first episode, the song that kicks off the series is “Final Form” performed by our very own Sampa The Great. Earlier this year the Aussie based artist (who was born in Zambia and raised in Botswana) made history after becoming the first to nab the Australian Music Prize twice.
The beauty of Queen is that she is multidimensional. We see her faults, her vulnerabilities and her struggle to come to terms with her mother’s death.
For Thusi, it was very important to play a character that is not only a badass, but showed a range of emotions as well.
“Black female characters specifically sometimes don’t get those complexities and the layers,” she said, mentioning that they can also be “unpredictable” and “rebellious”.
“I had to make sure I was reflecting what was around me, how I saw the men, how I saw myself, how I worked on the character with the directors and writers…to prepare for this role,” she said.
Through the series, Thusi especially wanted to encourage women to “realise their power the same way that Queen does”.
But the show isn’t just about Queen. The supporting cast adds more depth to the series, whether it’s the sense of duty forced upon Queen’s colleague Miri (played by Chi Mhende) or the revenge plotline of hacker Frederique (played by Loyiso Madinga).
My favourite character though is Queen’s grandmother Mazet whose love for Queen and witty remarks add light to an otherwise action-filled and heart stopping series.
And let’s not forget the outfits – which had me questioning my own fashion sense. Queen’s outfits are on point each episode, whether she’s going to work in jeans and a droolworthy leather jacket or giving me LIFE in this purple number. Hello leg.
— KaylaKay (@imKayleneSophia) February 29, 2020
Queen Sono’s first season has only six episodes, with a second season confirmed by Netflix. It’s perfect for action lovers and those who want to see Africans in a more empowering light.
“I am really proud of the success [of Queen Sono], which to me lies within the great response from viewers,” Thusi said. “It’s important that our continent is seeing this content and a bonus that we get to share our African stories on a global stage like Netflix.”
So if you’ve finished watching The Last Dance or Dead to Me, why not take some time to check out Queen Sono.
You won’t regret it.