Queen Sono‘s Pearl Thusi Is The Super Spy That Africa Deserves

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Netflix is finally expanding its offerings to include original titles from Africa. In edition to Nollywood features like Lionheart and The Wedding Party, the platform's African-oriented content includes a brand new original series that spans several countries on the continent. Queen Sono stars South African actress Pearl Thusi as its titular heroine, a spy with a skillset that rivals even that of the legendary 007 himself.
In the series, now available for streaming on Netflix, Thusi plays Queen Sono. Queen works as an agent for the Special Operations Group (SOG), an organization created to maintain peace and stability throughout Africa, and her missions take her all over the continent taking down high profile criminals. Our protagonist comes from a line of powerful women; long before Queen was throwing bad guys over her shoulder on behalf of SOG, her mother Safiya was a revered political activist speaking out against apartheid before she was assassinated.
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For Thusi, stepping into the spotlight to portray a powerful female main character has always been the dream. After working as a model for several years, the 31-year-old ventured into acting. Her first TV role was a minor spot on the BBC-HBO collaboration The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency; adapted from the Alexander McCall Smith novels of the same name, the series also starred Jill Scott and Anika Noni Rose.
She continued building her filmography, appearing in the South Africa-based projects like the soap opera Isidingo and films Catching Feelings (also on Netflix) and Kalushi. In 2016, Thusi made the crossover to Hollywood when she got the call to star in the second season of ABC's thriller series Quantico. She played Dayana Mampasi, an attorney who works alongside the show's main character Alex Parrish (Priyanka Chopra-Jonas).
After her arc on Quantico ended, Thusi made the major professional decision to head back home to South Africa to focus on projects that would allow her to tell complex stories about the continent. "I am passionate about being here and investing in African entertainment," she told ESSENCE Magazine.
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The move, Thusi said, was about combating the narratives that exist about Africa. With her starring role in Queen Sono, the actress wants to show that there is so much more than the stereotypes that the mainstream media has peddled. "People like to fantasize [about] African poverty,” Thusi said in that same interview. “But because we have control over the narrative, we can show this is not the only thing that’s happening in Africa."
Queen Sono takes audiences on a high speed journey around Africa, starting in the streets of South Africa before jetting off to Nigeria, Kenya, and Tanzania. Each stop tells its own story, a reminder that Africa never has been and will never be a monolith.
Like her homeland, Thusi is is multi-dimensional, and she is proud to demonstrate her versatility as an African in this series. "This is what an African woman can be,” Thusi told ESSENCE. “This is what she can look like. This is what she can represent. You can either be excited for me or fear me, because I am coming for everything.”
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