March 16, 2021
By Joe Otterson
Showtime has ordered a drama series about Zulu king Shaka, with Antoine Fuqua onboard to direct and executive produce, Variety has learned.
“Shaka: King of the Zulu Nation” hails from writers and executive producers Olu Odebunmi and Tolu Awosika. Rooted in actual events, the series chronicles Shaka’s 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.
“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 met in school and 1995. The children of first-generation immigrants, they both spent part of their early lives living in Nigeria. They recently collaborated with Fuqua while working on the Amazon series “The Terminal List,” on which Fuqua is a director and executive producer. Their other credits include the AMC series “61st Street” and the feature “Origins.”
They are repped by Artists First and attorney Rob Szymanski.
“Olu and Tolu have written such an exciting and emotional origin story of an African warrior hero,” said Gary Levine, co-president of entertainment for Showtime. “And Antoine’s passion for this project, coupled with his formidable talent, promises an epic series unlike any other on television.”
Fuqua is perhaps best known for directing the Oscar-winning Denzel Washington film “Training Day.” One of the most in-demand directors working today, Fuqua’s other credits include “Shooter,” “The Equalizer” franchise, “Southpaw,” and “Olympus Has Fallen.” He also directed the Showtime documentary “American Dream/American Knightmare,” about gangsta rap producer Suge Knight.
He is repped by LBI Entertainment and Ziffren Brittenham.
“Shaka: King of the Zulu Nation” will be produced by CBS Studios and Propagate. Along with Fuqua, Odebunmi, and Awosika Ben Silverman and Rodney Ferrell of Propagate will also executive produce. Fuqua will executive produce under his Fuqua Films banner. Howard T. Owens, Gregory Lipstone, and Spencer Medof also executive produce, with Michael Callas of Fuqua Films and Scott Greenberg producing.