Young, Famous & African: Africa's Premiere Celebrity Reality Show is Here
Young, Famous & African is now streaming on Netflix.
Up until recently, celebrity reality television has not always flourished in Nigeria or Africa. With a history of short lived runs and dismal viewership numbers, it seemed to be a case of no interest from the audiences. And most of this was before social media. Now, it makes more sense to simply follow the lives of our favourite celebrities through a free Twitter/Instagram account. However, outside Nigeria, celebrity reality tv is a huge business with families like the Kardashians and other shows like The Real Housewives enduring for more than a decade and constantly pulling in new viewers. In Africa – especially East and South Africa – celebrities like Busiswa and Somizi Mhlongo have granted untethered access to their personal lives.
With West Africa brought into the fold, Netflix’s Young, Famous and African is taking the continent by storm. Arriving as the streaming giant’s premiere reality show and executive produced/co-created by Peace Hyde and Adelaide Joshua Hill, the show was primarily shot in Johannesburg. The latter shared “we are thrilled to have been a part of this amazing show, it is wonderful to be able to show a different side of Africa to the world and highlight the amazing people we have on our continent. We thank each and every one of the cast members who gave of their time and allowed us a sneak peek into their lives. Young, Famous & African is a wild luxury ride, a trip that is worth the time.”
And the characters are as fabulous as advertised. Diamond Platnumz cuts the figure of a hopeless romantic, stuck between his devotion to his first wife, Zari and their kids, and his nature. He is easily one of the most polarizing characters on the show. Khanyi Mbau’s glamorous life will also garner significant attention. Positioned as the show’s villain for her blunt statements and questionable parenting, the actress/producer/life coach provides some of the show’s most memorable moments in the first episode.
South African rapper, Nadia Nakai, provides slightly younger energy than the rest of the cast members. Her romance with Chicago rapper, Vic Mensa creates the possibility for some overlap and the couple’s Mexico trip raises the chances of him appearing in the next season.
Annie Macaulay’s role as the matriarch is visible from the first episode. However, she appears to be battling for the role with other women who some may not consider traditional mothers i.e. Khanyi and The Boss Lady. Unfortunately, the most frequently visited subject matter in her plotline centers her husband’s infidelity and her decision to stay with him. Considering her displeasure at her stellar film career often being overlooked due to her spousal status, the plot seems convoluted. Swanky Jerry’s over the top but down to earth persona also melds well with Annie McCaulay and the pair make a strong unit. His GQ cover unveiling was a big moment that pointed to the professionalism of some of the cast members. Glitz and glam are not the only elements present.
One of the muted cast members is the journalist Andile. While he lends himself to the plotlines of most of the talent – his potential love triangle (and bro code violation) with Diamondz Platinum and Zari – setup for a more pivotal second season. His friend DJ Naked is a successful South African entertainer with close ties to Khanyi and a tumultuous love life with Kayleigh Schwark.
2Baba’s limited but important screen time garnered the most impact. His actions off the screen are possibly moreso. However, considering the show’s unscripted format, some of his actions will come off as colorful. Zari’s messiness but clear star power are a key part of the current show arc. Her tumultuous relationship with Diamond. The Nadia drama thrown in. The situation with Annie and 2Baba. While Khanyi might be the textbook TV villain, Zari is clearly rewriting the playbook – all the while establishing an identity outside her relationship with Diamond – and succeeding.
Cast members with a history of creative work have the advantage in front of the camera – their natural inclination to perform is something they had to strip back sometimes. According to Kayleigh, DJ Naked’s love interest, “the more we recorded, the easier it got to be in front of the camera all the time. I think it’s easy to get lost in it too.” Zari and Nadia also shared the importance of what kind of representation the content will provide. “People think about Africa and always imagine people riding animals and living on safari, they never expect to see us look this good or sound this good or be this successful. What we’ve done here will change these negative perceptions.” Zari explained. It is important to note that while the cast is evenly divided by gender, the women seem to outnumber the men by simply being more entertaining and forming more meaningful connections. Nadia says “for all the drama that went down, we’ve all become such good friends and because the show is unscripted everything you see is real. There were certain situations we needed to experience and grow from which we did and I hope the audience sees that instead of focusing on the negative.” she adds.
Young, Famous & African comes to Netflix today.