EXCLUSIVE: Everything We Know About ‘Young, Famous & African,’ the first-ever African reality show on Netflix
In conversation with Nadia Nakia, Andile Ncube & Kayleigh Schwark
In conversation with Nadia Nakia, Andile Ncube & Kayleigh Schwark
More than ever, the gaze of the world is intently pressed on what’s coming out of Africa. Across music, fashion, food, and academia, the continent is making a grand leap forward that would have been simply unimaginable only ten years ago. Streaming giant, Netflix, was one of the earliest global powerhouses to make a move into the continent, spreading its wings with shows like Queen Sono and Blood and Water. The next level of Netflix’s engagement with Africa is set to be predicated on the unscripted drama of reality TV shows.
‘Young, Famous and African’ is set to be the streamer’s flagship, cross-continental show and is going to be built around some of Africa’s most famous celebrities, starring Khanyi Mbau (South Africa), Diamond Platnumz (Tanzania), Annie Macaulay-Idibia (Nigeria), 2Baba (Nigeria), Zari the Boss Lady (Uganda), Naked DJ (South Africa), Nadia Nakai (South Africa), Swanky Jerry (Nigeria), Andile Ncube (South Africa), and Kayleigh Schwark (South Africa).
According to the show creators, the high-octane life of these celebrities will collide across seven episodes that were filmed in South Africa. Peace Hyde, show co-creator and executive producer, told Africanews that the show would serve as a medium to change perceptions of Africa moving forward. “This has been a labour of love that has finally become a reality. Growing up in the U.K, there were no glitzy and sexy images of Africa; all we saw were the stereotypical images that have been propelled in the media for years. Young, Famous & African presents an Africa that is vibrant, beautiful, glossy, and sexy to the world,” Peace Hyde said.
Ahead of the official debut of the show on Friday, The NATIVE caught up with some members of the cast to discuss shooting the show, what its stated objectives are, and what perceptions they hope to help change with the show.
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NATIVE: Can you describe what the series is about in one sentence for anticipating viewers ?
ANDILE: We’re going to give that one to Nadia cause she’s really awesome with this sort of thing.
NADIA: I honestly think that it is a show that showcases African talent in different spheres, in different industries and people that inspire each other, that are inspired by the African continent and I think we are a group of people that are very strong headed and have very strong will but that also have drama, we have drama and issues we just like any other person. I think anybody that watches the show will resonate with that because I think no matter what group or dynamic that you find yourself in there are certain things regardless of fame money or youth that we deal with as humans and people so I think that’s something that will be a big resonating factor when you watch the show as well as super inspiring.
ANDILE: Never mind a sentence she gave you 16!
NATIVE: So what did you say individually sparked your interest when you were initially presented with working on the reality show?
ANDILE: Well, number one, being in Nigeria you know how Africa is proceeding projected around the world. We get to see the most beautiful pictures from Europe, the most beautiful pictures from America of lives well lived, an inspiration to Americans, etc. Which then outpours into Africa. This is Africa showing a side that CNN won’t show you, this is a side of Africa that interested in me in telling a different story to the narrative of Africa that out there to be are part of something that says Africa is not a jungle Africa is not a war zone that is life beyond that in the continent, that was definitely one of the big things that sparked many of our interest.
KAYLEIGH: I think my interest was very similar to Andile’s. And it was the fact that it’s Netflix ,and Netflix is obviously a huge platform, I think all of us are usually blessed to be able to be on such a huge platform and also again you know Africa is such a beautiful place and the way it is perceived in other countries and you know the way the media shows it and the way the propaganda puts South Africa out to be or Africa out to be is not always 100% accurate so it’s a great platform to showcase that
NATIVE: Nadia how about you?
NADIA: I think the biggest thing for me is the fact that one of the major exports when it comes to fashion and music is from our continent and I think more often than not when its showcased from another country‘s perspective. I think this is the first time you’re able to see this to see it from our perspective from African people that are actually cultivating and defining what is new in fashion, what is the new sound in music and other industries as well. So coming from us by us which is the most exciting thing for me as a creative as well.
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NATIVE: And what was the most enjoyable part of shooting?
NADIA: The most enjoyable part for me was how our dynamics are as a group. It’s exciting to see how I’m at the beginning of shooting. We might not know every single person but real relationships formed from this experience. I’m sure you Andile, you and Annie would never cross paths if it wasn’t for this kind of platform to bring everyone together, you guys have cultivated a really good relationship even now.
With me and Swanky, like I’ve always known him on socials I’ve always known him when I went for the Afrimas in Nigeria but I never got close to him like I did, and he’s one of my good friends today. Like I’ll say also with Khanyi, she is someone that is in the same industry with me that I’ve always looked up to. But now I can say she’s really my big sister because of experiences in the show, which is really exciting and great.
KAYLEIGH: I think for me it was the fact that I was unscripted and there was real life everything was 100% real, you know. It wasn’t put on in any way. And then also just being able to meet these amazing people . Every single one of the cast members are amazing, they all have their own personas and they’re all so different but we all come so well—we all come together so well—
KAYLEIGH: Quinton would’ve been the one to say this! But we all come together well.
NATIVE: I know each one of you are celebrities in your own right and you know have worked with the media in some way, but how would you say things kind of shifted going from you controlling what you put out there to being on a reality show and having to give them access to different parts of your life that you would not ordinarily give access to?
ANDILE: I’ll tell you what, there is a therapy around this as well. Nadia and I shared moments that are not things we’d ordinarily do, I know diamond and I shared moments like that as well, Quinton and I as well. So the access to part of you that you ordinarily wouldn’t share was then shared out of altruism thinking about other people. I mean my father’s passing is not something that I speak about, but I know for sure that there are people who struggle with that. Diamond was the same. *To Nadia* You know and you and your father’s situation that we spoke about as well is exactly the same. So in what we go through and what you see in the show there’s a lot of people that are gonna see relatable content that are gonna find a way to move on and deal with conflict that we move on and deal with on the show so that’s what I took out of it rather than it’s me just sharing my life no it’s me sharing part of me hoping to reach a part of you that’s at the same journey in life.
NATIVE: Yeah understandable. How about you guys, Nadia and Kayleigh?
NADIA: For me I think it’s a big concern at the beginning to the fact that I’m not used to showcasing myself in things that have to do with my personal life the way that I did on the reality show and there’s nothing that’s really compared to it. They obviously get a feeling of what we discuss and how things come out and how we interact with people that you actually forget what you said, and you hope that ‘oh my gosh I hope that was received the way I intended it, I hope that people can really see my personality and don’t think that I’m actually just being bitchy or ungovernable or unmanageable or difficult’.
That’s the thing, in the fact that we haven’t watched the show at all contributes to that, because all we were doing was just being honest and living our life in that moment, and you being honest and living your life in that moment you’re going to question yourself like were you authentic and being yourself. So there is always going to be that concern. It was exciting, but the first thing I wanna see is –I know it’s really like, primitive of me to think of it like this– but I want to see how people are going to receive me when they see my personality and if it’s likeable. It’s like a test , like a study I’m doing on myself to think what are they gonna see how they’re gonna think of me and not just on my music on my music videos but literally from the words that I say and how I deal with people and how I interact with people which is interesting.
NATIVE: That’s a really lovely answer, thank you. Did you guys face any particular challenges while shooting?
KAYLEIGH: I think prior to the show I had a perception or I had an idea of what I wanted to share and what the boundaries were and you know what I was willing to give to the to the rest of the world but when you actually start shooting you realise she start giving away so much more than what you ever anticipated to do because you need to be able to deliver the message, the correct message to the person which makes so much sense once you share the full story, so and yeah I think that that’s it for me.
NATIVE: Alright, thank you everyone this has been a really really lovely, interesting conversation and I’m looking forward to the show coming out and everyone seeing more of it. Can we expect a season two already?
NADIA: I hope so!
KAYLEIGH: Definitely. We have to. We have to see more.
NADIA: There has to be more.