By Lesley Goldberg
March 16, 2021
Showtime is ready to explore the story of a warrior king.
The premium cable network has handed out a straight-to-series order for Shaka: King of the Zulu Nation, a drama from executive producer Antoine Fuqua.
Created and written by Olu Odebunmi and Tolu Awosika, the series is rooted in actual events. Here’s Showtime’s formal description: “[It] tells the story of the Zulu Empire chief Shaka and his unlikely rise to power, uniting multiple tribes across vast stretches of Africa in the early 19th century to transform his power into legend, on par with history’s most seminal figures. In ferocious battles that test the body and soul, in alliances that test the bonds of love and friendship, a complex sociological system plays out that renders the human cost front and center, for the victors as well as the vanquished, all in an effort to carve out a semblance of identity, fulfillment and ultimately, survival.”
The series hails from Propagate’s Ben Silverman and Rodney Ferrell and Showtime corporate sibling CBS Studios. Odebunmi and Awosika exec produce alongside Fuqua, with the latter set to direct. Howard T. Owens, Gregory Lipstone and Spencer Medof also exec produce. Scott Greenberg and Michael Callas also are on board as producers.
“This project offers a gateway to our past that is so critical to our global history and yet so often marginalized,” said Fuqua. “Through Shaka: King of the Zulu Nation, we hope to bring this saga to life, all the tears, sweat and blood, all the joy and sorrow, all the intimacy and intensity and humanity. In short, we’re going to rock the world with this one.”
Odebunmi and Awosika, who met while attending school in Fullerton, California, in 1995, are the children of first-generation immigrants and both lived in Nigeria during their formative years. They previously teamed with Fuqua on the upcoming The Terminal List and count 61st Street and Africa-set feature Origins among their credits.
Shaka joins a roster of scripted originals at Showtime that also includes Billions, Black Monday, The Chi, City on a Hill, The Curse, Dexter, First Ladies, The L Word, Ripley, American Rust and Yellowjackets, among others. A premiere date for Shaka has not yet been determined.