Queen Sono, Netflix’s First African Original series and you can trust us when we say, you have never seen anything like it or Africa represented in such a refreshing way. It’s a story about Africa, by Africans made with African talent, it is a first and it will definitely change the landscape of African film forever.
Pearl Thusi plays the lead
Queen Sono and we can safely say she nailed that role. Queen is complex, sweet and kinda crazy and Thusi delivered it all perfectly. Kudos African Queen.
GQ got a chance to chat with Thusi this week about the show, what it means to her, the unsung hero on set and more.
GQ: So Pearl, we just want to say this. We have watched a few episodes of
Queen Sono and we would like to say ‘Well Done’. You nailed that role. When we watched the show, we forgot Pearl and were so mesmerized by Queen. You fully embodied the character. We can’t wait for the series to drop on Friday (28th February 2020) to indulge and see Queen’s full journey and how the whole story unfolds.
PT: Thank you so much. A lot of people who had a chance to preview the episodes have said they loved the series and said I did well, but to come from you GQ who doesn’t have to be kind to me or anything, that means a lot. When my friends and colleagues say it I believe it but at the same time I am like ‘You care about me, so your opinion is kind of biased’.
Let’s start with what this story means to you? What does Queen Sono represent for Pearl Thusi?
PT: When I came back from New York I had a very clear idea of the legacy I want to leave. I had no clue how I was going to do it, but I knew the legacy was all about and based on this industry and what I believe my legacy should be about.
I feel South Africa is in a state right now because we are not unified by anything. Everyone is kind of doing their own thing. As artists we are not suffering enough of the same problems that we are willing to remove color, remove economic background and be like ‘We are going to be united and fight for this thing.’
So, as an artist I realized that what makes Hollywood, Bollywood and Nollywood successful is that people have a self esteem about who they are and where they are. They are okay with it and proud of it. In Hollywood the other major reason for success is that they put budget to their productions and apart from their budget people are experienced enough to create a sausage factory that creates a quality sausage. In South Africa we are creating a sausage factory with no budget, no quality material, with people who haven’t received enough experience or don’t have enough time. It’s all based on the budget and also most times the amount of disrespect they have for artists in general.
Another reason why this series is so important is that I want to prove that you can be right here at home and still do great things. That is important to be because I didn’t like the validation my career and acting suddenly got because I worked in the States. They took me at Quantico because I was good. Trevor Noah got the gig at The Daily Show because he was good, ‘We didn’t all of a sudden become better because we were there. I think that speaks to the self esteem issues we have as a people in the country’. That’s something I want to fight and change.
This entire show was part of a vision board I put up. I said I wanted to be the lead of an international series, I was inspired by Priyanka Chopra (that lady is amazing!) Here we are today, the vision has come to pass.
I want to be part of creating a legacy where Africa negotiates as equals on a table with Steven Spielberg, Bong Jooh-ho and no one feels like they are doing someone else a favor. This is usually the position we are in as Africans. If I can live to see that day, I will die a very happy woman.
GQ: And from the local film and television industry? What are you hoping other channels or productions will get from this?
PT: I hope this teaches SABC, DSTV and the production companies in South Africa on how to treat us, what we deserve and what we are capable of. Because I am sick and tired of the treatment artists get locally. If you notice since I came from Quantico I haven’t worked on a single locally produced production, I am not interested in fighting people who are never going to choose to see my worth.
GQ: You have some very hectic fight scenes in the series, but one fight scene we are looking forward to is when Queen Sono faces off with Ekaterina Gromova. We hear it’s an epic fight scene. How was it preparing for that scene?
PT: I cried the end of that night. All the pressure surrounding our fight scene and preparation from the other departments, it was a lot. There is a point when you have put so much in physically and emotionally that it all just becomes a lot. Also when we do the fight choreography we are in a very safe space with mats everywhere, padding and we are like little princesses. And when you get on set there’s a pillar and no more padding, it was hard. It was extremely intense, it was the only time I cried the entire production.
GQ: How much of Pearl is in Queen and vice versa?
PT: Well, there are lot of things that Queen does that I as Pearl wouldn’t do. For example, I wouldn’t ride a bicycle in Joburg CBD. As a mother who has two kids the only similarity would be I would kill if someone tries to hurt my kids. Other than that, myself and Queen are very different.
GQ: Any last words for the interview?
PT: On the set I was concerned about the extras, reason is I know on some sets, not this one, they are treated badly and yet never complain. I always looked at how I was treated so well and yet I wasn’t fully happy and I thought of how they are always making us look good and making everything come together well and yet we pay no attention to them. I have never been an extra but I have a heart for them. They work hard and never complain. Shout out to the extras and everyone behind the scenes who you don’t get to see on the red carpet and magazine covers everything comes together because of all of us not just those in front of the camera.