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Thursday, June 24, 2021


Meet the 12 Development Lab candidates for the Realness Institute in partnership with Netflix

From over 500 applications, 12 creative industry professionals from Kenya, Nigeria, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe were selected to be part of the inaugural three-month development lab for African Writers and Development Executive Trainees, commenced June 13, 2021.

The programme, launched by the Realness Institute, a non-profit organisation committed to fostering a new wave of African storytelling in partnership with the world’s leading streaming service Netflix, kicked off on June 13 and will run until September.

Six of these candidates will have the opportunity to participate in the Episodic Lab (EPL), where they will develop their story concepts alongside expert Story Consultants and Creative Producers. The selected participants include Andile Ngcizela with Drummies (South Africa); Ayoade Adeyanju with Agent 419 (Nigeria); Dominique Jossie with Fafi (South Africa); Kehinde Joseph with Osupa (Nigeria); Kudakwashe Maradzika with Bad Influencer (Zimbabwe / South Africa) and Mary Waireri with Sheitain (Kenya / United Kingdom). Along with creative training, Writers will receive feedback from the Netflix team. At the end of the Lab, each writer will have an opportunity to pitch their incubated concept to Netflix to have their series further developed for production.

There are also six participants who will join the Development Executive Traineeship (DET) to fully immerse themselves in the story development process. The candidates include Anneke Villet (South Africa); Antoinette Engel (South Africa); Damaris Irungu Ochieng' (Kenya); Lara Sousa (Mozambique); Ololade Okedare (Nigeria), and Thandeka Zwane (South Africa). They will accompany the incubation of the six potential Netflix African Original Series. The purpose of this traineeship is to build a critical missing capacity in the local media ecosystems with the hopes of expanding this expertise across the continent to help bolster the quality of work produced.  This skill creates opportunities for professionals to work with national film bodies, film commissions, funders, story consultants and critics.

“The opportunity to pay writers and development executives to be mentored as they develop local content for Netflix is a game-changer for these markets because development is often the weakest link in the value chain when it comes to creating content”, says Mehret Mandefro, Director of Development and Partnerships at the Realness Institute.

“We’re excited about the 12 candidates chosen to be part of this programme that will bring fresh and incredible new stories to our members around the world. We’re looking forward to this opportunity to develop and nurture the talent pipeline for the next three month and ultimately, give new voices from Africa a chance to be heard on our service,” says Allison Triegaardt, Netflix Manager for Grow Creative in Africa.

The Lab will take place remotely from June 13 to September 5, 2021, where selected participants will receive a stipend so that they can focus entirely on their development.