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Nelson Mandela Estate Reaches Deal With Writer/Producer Josh Wakely To Create Drama TV Series About South African Leader’s Life (EXCLUSIVE)


Nelson Mandela, the iconic anti-apartheid leader who rose from 27 years as a political prisoner to ultimately becoming the first president of a free South Africa, will be the subject of the 30-hour scripted television series “Mandela.” The project is currently in preparation by the screenwriter/producer Josh WakelyIt is Grace: a storytelling enterprise pebbles.

Wakely secured the lifetime rights to the television series about the late Mandela through House of Mandela Entertainment, the media arm of the Mandela estate. Wakely will produce and write “Mandela,” alongside South African writer/director Kagiso Lediga (“Queen Sono”) and producer Kweku Mandela (who is also Nelson Mandelathe grandson of).

The project, which Wakely likens to a multi-season saga in the vein of Netflix’s “The Crown,” will center on Mandela’s life as he was sent to prison while seeking to end apartheid , the system of institutional racism and segregation that was administered in South Africa for generations. Mandela was imprisoned in 1962 and finally released in 1990, after which the country began taking steps to end apartheid, leading to Mandela’s election as president in 1994. After one term, he focused his efforts on his charitable foundation; Mandela died in 2013.

“Few people in history have had as extraordinary a political, cultural and humanitarian impact as Nelson Mandela,” Wakely said in a statement. “Our creative mission is to show how Mandela found himself navigating a complex web of people who supported and opposed him as he lived and breathed the fragility, failures and triumphs of the anti-apartheid movement. »

Josh Wakely, Kweku Mandela and Kagiso Lediga

Maria Baranova, Mandela House, Diprente

Wakely and Kweku Mandela were the first to launch the project; Wakely’s Grace: A Storytelling Company is financing the development of “Mandela,” which it plans to shop to premium cable and streaming channels, with an eye toward production in early 2025.

Wakely added that “Mandela’s life has always been a singular obsession of mine. Along with Kweku Mandela and Kagiso Ladiga, I look forward to bringing new light, new perspectives and previously untold details to this most iconic story.

Universal Music Group is partnering in the creation of the “Mandela” soundtrack, via its international catalog. Wakely first entered into a deal with Universal Music Group in 2018 to leverage its library of projects. This includes another series that he has been preparing for a long time, a television series based on the songs and characters of Bob Dylan.

At Grace: A Storytelling Co., Wakely sought to secure various real-world IP properties for the series; Besides Mandela and Dylan, he also secured the life rights to boxing legend Muhammad Ali. Wakely is one of the executive producers of the scripted series “The Greatest” in development at Amazon’s Prime Video, alongside Michael B. Jordan and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation. His previous credits include the Netflix animated children’s series “Beat Bugs” (based on the Beatles’ musical catalog) and “Motown Magic” (based on the sounds of Motown artists).

As for Kweku Mandela, he is president of House of Mandela Entertainment as well as director of vision for Global Citizen, based in New York. His credits include “The Bang Bang Club“, starring Malin Ackerman and Ryan Phillippe, and “Georgetown,” directed by and starring Christoph Waltz.

“My grandfather dedicated his life and freedom to changing South Africa,” Mandela said. “His life was filled with dangers and events that would, and continue today, attract the attention of the world. The series will reflect this urgent tone, not as a period piece, but as an urgent, relevant, fast-paced drama that feels like it’s happening now.

As for Lediga, he created the Netflix African original series “Queen Sono” and recently directed the Sony Pictues television series “Classified” for Prime Video. His other credits include SABC2’s “The Pure Monate Show” and “The Bantu Hour” with Hugh Masekela.

Wakely is replaced by Hansen Jacobson, while Lediga is replaced by CAA.


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