King Shaka: Everything We Know So Far About The Antoine Fuqua Showtime Series

Antoine Fuqua might have been known best for his big screen blockbuster work, but in the past few years, he's made a pretty triumphant transition to streaming. Of course, it took some "adjusting" on the director's part — with the Mark Wahlberg starrer "Infinite" quietly released on Paramount+, and the Jake Gyllenhaal-led thriller "The Guilty" making a similar debut on Netflix — but Fuqua has since found a major groove with television. With producer credits on the celebrated "Mayor of Kingstown" and the recent release of Prime Video series "The Terminal List," Fuqua is enjoying the freedom that long-form entertainment affords.

"I found it to be a really positive thing," Fuqua told /Film's Jack Giroux. The freedom of the new streaming landscape reminds the filmmaker of the risk-taking on display in the '70s. "You got a chance to just come in and try some things and be brave," Fuqua added, which really speaks to the trove of inclusive content streaming on platforms everywhere. And with the forthcoming Showtime series "King Shaka," Fuqua aims to add one more to the lineup.

What will King Shaka be about?

"King Shaka" will follow the unlikely rise of Shaka kaSenzangakhona, one of the most notable kings of the Zulu Empire in South Africa. The story of Shaka's rule was something of a legend before his storied reign. As the estranged son of a Zulu Chief, Shaka was prophesied to become a renowned king — and he eventually fulfilled that prophesy by uniting multiple southern African tribes under one banner. According to Deadline, "King Shaka" will follow the titular ruler from his disgraced childhood to his triumph as a warrior king, "in ferocious battles that test the body and soul, in alliances that test the bonds of love and friendship ... all in an effort to carve out a semblance of identity, fulfillment and ultimately, survival."

The series will be produced by CBS Studios alongside Propagate and Fuqua Films. Fuqua will executive produce along with series creators Olu Odebunmi and Tolu Awosika, Bridget Carpenter, Propagate's Ben Silverman, Howard T. Owens and Rodney Ferrell.

What we know about the King Shaka cast

With such an epic, legendary subject to explore, the "King Shaka" cast will have big shoes to fill. The series has tapped Charles Babalola ("The Outlaws," "Black Mirror") to portray the titular king, and he'll be joined by series regulars Aïssa Maïga ("The Fear Index") and Thando Dlomo ("The Woman King"). Maïga will co-star as Nandi, Shaka's mother, who'll stop at nothing to bring Shaka in line with his destiny. Dlomo has been cast as Pampatha, a herder whose fate is linked to Shaka's in a major way.

Rounding out the cast so far are Thapelo Mokoena ("Bulletproof") as Gendeyana, a Qwabe leader that grows close to Shaka and his mother, and Warren Masemola ("Queen Sono") as Magazwa, another ally to Shaka and Nandi. Both Mokoena and Masemola have been billed as guest stars.

When and where to watch King Shaka

"King Shaka" is slated for a 2023 debut on Showtime. Production begins September 2022, and will shoot in and around King Shaka's hometown, the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) South Africa province.

Odebunmi and Awosika have already spoken highly about the series' international "dream" cast, and their own personal connection to the story:

"The powerful story of King Shaka and the Zulu Nation speaks to the very heart of everything we identify with as Africans. It's a blessing and honor to share the greatness of the Zulu people's history with a full and nuanced approach that serves as a microcosm for African history across the continent. We couldn't be more excited to reintroduce this narrative from the perspective of its own people and share it with the world."

Speaking to Variety in 2021, Fuqua declared that "King Shaka" would "rock the world":

"This project offers a gateway to our past that is so critical to our global history and yet so often marginalized. Through ["King Shaka"], 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."

With revisionist projects like "The Woman King" becoming more and more prevalent now, it's going to be so exciting to see the kind of story that Fuqua, Odebunmi and Awosika eventually tell. One can only hope that the success of projects like these will help make it easier to produce more in the future.