For decades, classic superheroes like Spiderman, Superman, and Batman have shared these two traits — they are white and male. But Netflix’s new animated production, Mama K’s Team 4, aims to break free from the stereotypical superhero mold.
In keeping with its latest effort to include more content from the African continent, Mama K’s Team 4 will be the first African children’s series to feature on the streaming service.
The show follows four teenage girls who live in a futuristic version of Lusaka, Zambia, and are on a mission to save the world. According to Variety, the story is written by Zambian screenwriter Malenga Mulendema, designed by the Cameroonian artist Malcolm Wope, and produced by South African animation studio Triggerfish.
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The announcement of the new show comes not long after Netflix introduced its first-ever original African TV series called Queen Sono. Last month, Netflix also releasedThe Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, a film based on the true story of a young boy who dropped out of school and built a windmill that saved his village from disaster.
“In addition to giving African writers a global platform on which to be heard, we are excited to present this powerful and entertaining new animated series that brings Malenga’s incredible and unique vision to life on Netflix,” Melissa Cobb, vice president of original animation at Netflix, said in a press release.
“Mama K’s Team 4 has the potential to give a whole new generation of African children the opportunity to see themselves on screen in the powerful, aspirational characters they look up to,” she added.
Mulendema was one of the eight winners of the Triggerfish Story Lab contest, a talent search conducted across the African continent by the Walt Disney Company and Triggerfish.
Mulendema said she was inspired to write an African superhero story based in Zambia because of the lack of representation in media that she witnessed growing up. The writer said never saw a cartoon character who looked like her or came from a world that resembled her native Zambia as a child.
“In creating a superhero show set in Lusaka, I hope to introduce the world to four strong African girls who save the day in their own fun and crazy way,” she said. “Most importantly, I want to illustrate that anyone from anywhere can be a superhero.”