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Queen Sono

Queen Sono’s Enhle Maphumulo & Khathu Ramabulana are TV’s most charismatic couple

As part of YNaija’s coverage of the launch of Queen Sonothe first Netflix original scripted series from Africa, our editors joined a roundtable of journalists from across the continent to speak one-on-one with actress Chi Mhende who plays the tough as nails,  William to discuss their on-screen chemistry, their hopes for the show and the possibility of a second season, Director General Miri.

Charismatic and quick-witted, Enhle and Khathu are primed to become the next TV darlings.


 

YNAIJA

Khathu, your character is a ‘good guy’. He’s the most consistent person in Queen’s life and the most generous, and we know the trope about good guys finishing last. What shocked you the most about his character development?

KHATHU RAMABULANA

I was very interested in the chemistry between Queen and William, but that is balanced out by the fact that he has a very hot girlfriend. Nothing really surprised me, but I feel like he was a joy to play.

YNAIJA

Any personal character traits you share with William?

KHATHU RAMABULAMA

It’s the goodness of his heart. It was something that I felt. Just the way he goes about life and how he treats people. He’s definitely the guy you want to take home to your mother

YNAIJA

As Queen’s childhood friend, William is the only real connection Queen still has in the real world outside of SOG. This subverts the traditional gendered trope in spy thrillers, where the man is the one who is isolated and the woman is expected to ground him. How would you describe William and Queen’s relationship in that context?

KHATHU RAMABULANA

 

William is the one that holds everything together for Queen. He is her psychological foundation. Queen is estranged from her father and cannot tell her family about her work, so William becomes integral to

Without William, Queen’s world would fall apart.

YNAIJA

You play a therapist on Queen Sono. And across Africa we are having important conversations about how mental health, mental illness and care for people with mental illness is portrayed in the media. How did you prepare yourself to do justice to this role?

KHATHU RAMABULANA

 

I have researched in film and literature about therapy and how therapists are portrayed. Most of this work I did because I was working on a play with a friend about the effects of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).  Luckily that prepared me for this role and made the research I needed to do significantly easier.

But I feel like we should all have empathy, not just because I am preparing for a role or someone else has an opportunity, but because it is a conversation being had in the world. The empathy that I can with me within that time informs my work on the show

YNAIJA

Enhle, what stories do you think the series is telling and who is the audience the show is trying to reach?

ENHLE MAPHUMULO

I personally think the story is for everyone. It breaks the conservative barriers that separates them and unites them together under a singular cause. And its is entertaining. I think the most important thing is that our audience starts and finishes entertained.

KHATHU RAMABULANA

I guess Queen Sono is a universal story. Like every human story, you dig deep enough and you find yourself. Above and beyond that, it’s an African story, written, directed and produced by African talent. It’s one of the few times the African story has been portrayed without someone else imposing their vision on us.

YNAIJA

What were your favourite storylines to shoot?

ENHLE MAPHUMULO

I quite enjoyed how Nova was gutsy, especially when it came to William and Sono’s relationship. She says it like it is, and even acts as a foil for Williams super intelligent psychologist, challenging him to reinvestigate his ideas. She is the girl who wears fancy dresses with tattoos, so you never know what to expect from her.

KHATHU RAMABULAMA

For me, I really enjoyed the Malunga storyline. From a political standpoint, it almost feels like things like have that to be said and have to be shown, especially where we are coming from as a country.  It gave you a view of inadequate leaderships, an experience we all share as Africans.

I also loved the love storyline between my character William and Nova, and how the unresolved emotions in his relationship with Queen colours his relationship with Nova.

YNAIJA

What character did you pull Nova from?

ENHLE MAPHUMULO 

Nova is a really weird individual because she isn’t like anyone else. I couldn’t base her on anything, so I took elements from characters I had previously played; Precious from when I was 16, I took elements of Lindi from Rockville and Portia from  Rhythm City. She works with the World Bank but when she is home you’d never see that she has such a powerful life elsewhere. She’s special in a different way.

I do wish she’d gotten fight scenes. My running joke with Khathu was that in Season 2, Nova and William will finally get to kick ass.

YNAIJA

You’ve worked on television for most of your career on serialized soap that was aired weekly and gave time for audience feedback. Queen Sono is completely different because it’s all available, all at once, no take backs. Do you have any worries about that?

ENHLE MAPHUMULO

I’m pretty confident in Kagiso and Tebogo’s skills. I made a decision to not seen finally cuts of the series before it is released to the public because of how much I trust my team.  I don’t see this as an experiment, because they have made projects like this before and they worked. They have no incentive to disappoint us now.

YNAIJA

Khathu, 2020 seems to be your year. Queen Sono is coming out, and you were in Shadows and Blessers (one of which was a Netflix project as well). Many fans will discover you this year and want to check out your whole body of work. Does that scare you?

KHATHU RAMABULAMA

I don’t think ‘scared’ would be the world. I feel grateful and confident and I can’t really complain. I’ve put the work out there and it can only speak for itself. All I can do is put it out, move on and let it take care of itself.

YNAIJA

Who are you most excited to share this project with?

ENHLE MAPHUMULO

For me, it’s my mom. My mom is one of those people that remembers to celebrate me even when I don’t celebrate myself. She reminds me to celebrate my good moments and not get swept away in the work.

KHATHU RAMABULAMA

I think the academy (laughs). Just kidding, I want to show my family and friends, and the whole of Africa.

It’s time we had something we all can celebrate.

 

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