Back in December 2018, Netflix announced that it was looking towards Africa to siphon original series and films in line with its global ambitions. South African crime drama Queen Sono became the avatar for the streaming giant’s new content uptake. Before now, Netflix has tried its hands on acquiring African content (French-Senegalese filmmaker Mati Diop’s feature debut Atlantics, gritty South African crime-drama Shadow which premiered on the streamer last year, Genevieve Nnaji’s directorial debut Lionheart), but Queen Sono slants away from the rest because it’s the first series from Africa developed from inception.
Queen Sono is created by South African actor and director Kagisgo Lediga, whose 2019 indie film Matwetwe became a box office sensation and garnered acclaim at international film festivals, and stars South African actress Pearl Thusi playing secret agent Queen who fights crime while dealing with the crisis in her life. And now we have a trailer…which doesn’t disappoint. The cast also includes Vuyo Dabula playing Shandu, an ex-spy who has taken a different path, and Sechaba Morojele as Dr. Sid, director of the SOG. Chi Mhende, Loyiso Madinga and Rob Van Vuuren, play agents on his team. Kate Liquorish plays Ekaterina, heiress of an oligarch family with ulterior motives. Khathu Ramabulana plays Queen’s childhood friend, William, now in a relationship with Enhle Maphumulo’s Nova. Abigail Kubeka plays Mazet, Queen’s beloved Gogo.
Queen Sono arrives Netflix February 28th. The almost two-minute footage contains actions beats and stylised camera shots. Let’s unpack everything, shall we?
1. It’s a spy story led by an African woman
Hollywood’s most popular spy movies are aggressively male-centric, from franchises (James Bond, Jason Bourne, Mission Impossible) to one-off releases (Snowden, Central Intelligence, American Made). Safe for Lashana Lynch who will take over James Bond from Daniel Craig, black female representation as leads in spy movies aren’t popular (please don’t bring up Halle Berry as a Bond girl in Die Another Day).
Queen Sono gives us Pearl Thusi, who has a cultivated decent portfolio in the South African film industry. Thusi isn’t new to the spy genre – she joined the cast of ABC’s espionage drama Quantico for its second season, playing a Harvard lawyer training to be a CIA agent. Now she’s working for a spy agency as the titular Queen Sono in South Africa, fighting bad guys even it means kicking them out of the window.
2 Pearl Thusi fighting in a dress
There’s a gorgeous shot in the trailer where Thusi slowly walks down a stairs wearing an evening dress. It’s an event and she’s there as an undercover agent, blending in until she has to swoop into action. It’s sleek, and makes you look forward to other fight scenes on the show.
3. South Africa does gritty crime-dramas so well
It may be because the crime rate in South Africa is significantly high, and there’s the fact that crime series programming is a staple on South African television (iNumber Number, Trackers, to name a few) and in Queen Sono, there is a glimpse of the sleazy crime lords and operations. Only disappointing thing about the trailer is that there weren’t any explosions. February 28th can’t come soon enough.