Jada Pinkett Smith Teams Up With Netflix For Series On Powerful African Queens
Photo Credit: Amy Sussman

Photo Credit: Amy Sussman

Jada Pinkett Smith Teams Up With Netflix For Series On Powerful African Queens

Entertainment , news
Brunno Braga
Brunno Braga Sep 14, 2021

Netflix and Jada Pinkett Smith are teaming up for a much-needed series sharing the history and stories of African Queens during the continent’s pre-colonial area. The show does not have a name yet.

The series, which is described as a “hybrid docuseries, will feature interviews with experts and content with premium scripted docudrama/re-enactments, as Deadline reported.

The first African Queen to be highlighted is Cleopatra in Season 1, who ruled Ancient Egypt (51BC-30BC), and Njinga, the ruler of Matamba and Ndongo (Angola) in the 1600s, in Season 2.

Smith shared an official statement, saying, “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. 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.”

Netflix also tweeted out the official announcement of the series:

Show writers include Peres Owino (Bound: Africans vs African-Americans) and NneNne Iwuji (Yellow.

Significance of Cleopatra

Cleopatra is probably one of the most popular African queens in human history. Ruling Egypt from 51 BC to 30 BC, she was the  daughter of King Ptolemy XII Auletes, and the last queen of the Macedonian dynasty that ruled Egypt between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE and its annexation by Rome in 30 BCE.

It is mostly accepted that Cleopatra was of Macedonian descent because she belonged to the line founded by Alexander’s general Ptolemy, who became King Ptolemy I Soter of Egypt. 

However, there have been some scholars who raise some questions about Cleopatra’s ethnicity. 

“The mother of Cleopatra has been suggested to have been from the family of the priests of Memphis. If this were the case, then Cleopatra could have been at least 50% Egyptian in origin,” Betsy M. Bryan, Professor of Egyptian Art and Archaeology at Johns Hopkins University, told NewsWeek.

The latest controversy about Cleopatra’s ethnicity erupted last year over the casting of Israeli actress Gal Gadot— best known for playing Wonder Woman in recent films— as the queen of Ancient Egypt in the latest film about the life of the Egyptian ruler.

“First of all if you want to be true to the facts then Cleopatra was Macedonian,” the actress told BBC. “We were looking for a Macedonian actress that could fit Cleopatra. She wasn’t there, and I was very passionate about Cleopatra,” she added.

Queen Njinga

The second queen to be depicted by Netflix and Jada Pinkett Smith is seventeenth-century African ruler Njinga, from the Matamba and Ndongo, kingdoms that were part of current Angola.

In 1626, after being deposed by the Portuguese, she transformed herself into a military leader, waging wars against the Portuguese colonizers and their African allies. Surviving multiple assasination attempts, Njinga conquered the neighboring state of Matamba and ruled as queen of Ndongo-Matamba.

At the height of her reign in the 1640s, Njinga ruled almost one-quarter of modern-day northern Angola.