Showtime announced today that Charmaine Bingwa (The Good Fight) and Nkeki Obi-Melekwe (Tina -The Tina Turner Musical) will star, and Tony Kgoroge (Invictus), Sindi Dlatu (The River) and Bahle Hadebe (Bone of My Bones) will guest star in the highly anticipated new series KING SHAKA, an epic drama centered around one man’s personal journey from stigmatized childhood to legendary king. The CBS Studios production will shoot in the historic KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) South Africa province, the birthplace of King Shaka, and will be fully shot in South Africa. The series is produced with Propagate and Hill District Media and will debut on SHOWTIME in 2023.
Bingwa stars as Isisa, a fierce and formidable warrior whose loyalty is thrown into question by a fateful encounter and Obi-Melekwe will star as the Locust Queen, the mysterious leader of a nomadic tribe of outcasts who uses her deep knowledge of the spiritual world to her advantage. Kgoroge is guest starring as Chief Senzangakhona, the proud leader of the Zulu people who denies Shaka’s birthright, Dlathu as Inyoni, a council leader and midwife, and Hadebe as young Shaka.
Bingwa stars in the Paramount+ series The Good Fight as Carmen Moyo and starred in the feature film Black Box. She will next be seen in KING SHAKA executive producer Antoine Fuqua’s Emancipation. Additional credits include Trees of Peace, Little Sista and Nekrotronic. Obi-Melekwe earned acclaim in her Broadway debut as Tina Turner in Tina – The Tina Turner Musical. She also appeared in the CBS series Bull and the SHOWTIME series SMILF.
Kgoroge starred most recently as police chief Khaya Meyer in the dark comedy series Recipes for Love and Murder. Additional credits include Imbewu: The Seed, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, Blood Diamond, Lord of War and Hotel Rwanda. Dlathu is best known for her work in the drama series The River as the villainous Lindiwe Dlamini and as Nomthandazo Buthelezi in Muvhango. She also worked alongside Whoopi Goldberg in the feature film Sarafina. Additional credits include Khululeka and Soul City. Hadebe started his career as a host on the series Yo, and later as a host on Epic Hangout. His credits include Deep State, Down the Zambezi, The Estate and Cash and Carry.
Rooted in actual events, KING SHAKA tells the story of the Zulu Empire founder Shaka (Charles Babalola) 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. The outcast son of a Zulu Chief, Shaka is a visionary who is prophesized to become a king like none before him. 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.
KING SHAKA is created and executive produced by Olu Odebunmi and Tolu Awosika, and executive produced by Antoine Fuqua, Bridget Carpenter, Propagate’s Ben Silverman, Howard T. Owens and Rodney Ferrell. Seith Mann, who is directing the pilot, and Spencer Medof are also executive producers. Scott Greenberg is a producer, and Michael Callas is producing for Hill District Media. Gugulethu Zuma-Ncube and Pepsi Pokane also produce.
As part of the production investment in South Africa and the KZN province, nearly 1,000 locals have been hired for jobs across all facets of the production, including cast, crew, performers and craftspeople. In addition, the production is working in concert with leading South African production services company Film Afrika to help facilitate filming in the region. They are also working closely with the KZN Film Commission and with career-building training programs such as SA Film Academy (SAFA) and the Academy of Creative Excellence to provide production internships and other opportunities.