African Queens: Njinga trailer released by Netflix
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Netflix’s new docu-drama African Queens: Njinga brings to life one of the most important yet unsung rulers in the continent’s history, portrayed by newcomer Adesuwa Oni. Executive producer Jada Pinkett Smith recently confirmed the series wouldn’t have been possible without an inspiring conversation with her daughter Willow.
Pinkett Smith revealed she got the idea for African Queens after discussing black history with her daughter.
The actress and wife of Will Smith aims to use the series to educate viewers about Africa’s past and has already rolled it out into several schools in the USA.
At the show’s launch in London, the producer traced the show’s origins from a conversation with Willow to eventually bringing Njinga’s story to life.
“Before the pandemic, Willow was younger and she and I were discussing what it really meant to be a queen,” she said.
“We all know, in our culture specifically, a queen is a word that’s used quite a lot to describe beautiful, black, magical women.”
While the Smiths discussed what it meant to be a queen, they realised African rulers were rarely, if ever, taught in the American school curriculum.
“I was asking Willow, ‘What makes a queen?’” Smith continued.
“As we started talking about that, I started thinking about that question from more of a historical context.”
“That’s when the idea kind of sprouted in my mind. We need to have more information and more content around black queens that have lived.”
The first instalment of African Queens tells a gripping story of bloodshed and betrayal as Njinga gains control of Ndongo and Matamba during a war with the Portuguese slave trade.
Smith narrates the series, which also features interviews with historians and experts alongside dramatic reenactments led by Oni’s performance as the fascinating historical figure.
The first season, released this week, consists of four episodes but the producer is keen for the series to continue so as to bring more queens’ stories to a wider audience.
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“These remarkable women have done remarkable things,” Smith continued.
“[But] there’s just not a lot of accessible content around these stories.
“I know there wasn’t for me when I was coming up. So I really got this idea for doing a series about African queens, and that’s how it came to be.”
The series has dropped during Black History Month in the US, but Smith is hoping African Queens will continue to shine a light on black stories year-round.
“It’s pretty significant, but I also want to say that this is a significant story no matter what time of year,” she said.
“It just so happens that it’s dropping [during] Black History Month, but I also want to be careful in thinking that a story of this magnitude only has a place to be told during Black History Month.
“Really, this remarkable story about this incredible woman could be told all year round.
“But I feel really proud to be able to be able to flow power to Njinga in a way to help bring her story to life, and Netflix has been such a great partner so it can be accessible to anyone.”
African Queens: Njinga is available to stream on Netflix.
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