EXCLUSIVE: The Outlaws star Charles Babalola is headlined on Showtime King Shaka, (fka Shaka: king of the Zulu nation), executive directed by Antoine Fuqua.
Babalola will play the title role in the epic drama series, centering on a man’s personal journey from stigmatized childhood to warrior king, which comes from writers Olu Odebunmi and Tolu Awosika, Propagate, Fuqua Films and CBS Studios. Production will begin next month in South Africa’s historic KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province, birthplace of King Shaka, and will be shot entirely in South Africa for its 2023 debut on Showtime.
Also cast as series regulars in King Shaka are Aissa Maiga (The Fear Index) like Nandi, Shaka’s devoted mother who will sacrifice everything to fulfill her son’s destiny; and Thando Dlomo (The female king) as Pampatha, a shepherdess whose fate is forever tied to that of Shaka. Thapelo Mokoena (Armored) will play the role of Gendeyana, a Qwabe leader who becomes close to Shaka and Nandi, as well as Warren Masemola (Queen Sono) as Magazwa, which provides safe haven for Shaka and Nandi but at a cost.
Rooted in real events, King Shaka tells the story of the founder of the Zulu Empire Shaka (Babalola) and his unlikely rise to power, uniting several tribes over vast swaths of southern Africa in the early 19th century to turn his power into legend, on par with the most significant figures in history. Outcast son of a Zulu chieftain, Shaka is a visionary who is prophesied to become a king like none before him. In fierce battles that test the body and soul, in alliances that test the bonds of love and friendship, a complex sociological system is at play that puts the human cost at the forefront, for victors and vanquished alike. , all in an effort to carve out some semblance of identity, fulfillment and, ultimately, survival.
“This exceptional international cast is, quite literally, a dream team,” said Odebunmi and Awosika, King Shaka creators and executive producers. “The powerful story of King Shaka and the Zulu nation speaks to the very heart of everything we identify with as Africans. It is a blessing and an honor to share the greatness of the history of the Zulu people with a comprehensive and nuanced approach that serves as a microcosm for African history across the continent. We couldn’t be more excited to reintroduce this narrative from the perspective of its own people and share it with the world.
As part of the production investment in South Africa and KZN Province, more than 300 locals have been hired for jobs in all facets of production, including cast, crew, artists and craftsmen. In addition, the production works with leading South African production services company Film Afrika to help facilitate filming in the region and with the KZN Film Commission as well as career development training programs such as SA Film Academy (SAFA) and the Academy of Creative. Excellence in providing production internships and other opportunities.
King Shaka is produced by Odebunmi and Awosika, Fuqua, Bridget Carpenter, Ben Silverman of Propagate, Howard T. Owens and Rodney Ferrell. Seith Mann, who is directing the pilot, and Spencer Medof are also executive producers. Scott Greenberg is producing and Michael Callas is producing for Fuqua Films.
Babalola is known for his starring role as Malaki in the crime thriller series The Outlawsas well as his work in Black Mirror: Hated in the Nation, Bancroft and Thirteen. Film credits include Gretel & Hansel, Mary Magdalene, The Legend of Tarzan and the next Borderlands. He recently starred in Network at the National Theater in London.
Maïga was nominated for the Césars for her work in the film Bamako, becoming the first black actress of African descent to earn this distinction. His credits also include The boy who harnessed the wind, he even has your eyes, the African doctor and The Fear Index. We will see her in the next movies When you are older (when you grow up) and The Sandman (The Sandman).
Dlomo made his film debut in The female king, starring Viola Davis. A member of Oprah Winfrey’s first class of South African Leadership Academy, she has appeared in over 30 South African theater productions and been featured in documentaries including Oprah’s Girls and O Daughters.
Mokoena played the role of Elias Motsoaledi in the film Mandela: A long road to freedom, and like Cédric Fatani in The heart that is in Desert. His credits include Stalkers, among friends: Ithala and Nothing for Mahala.
Masemola is a multi-nominated and three-time winner of the South African Film and Television Award. His credits include The Republic, Tjovitjo, The River and eye in the sky.