Netflix Partners on Episodic Content Development Lab for Writers in Africa

Netflix headquarters
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Netflix headquarters

"Africa has a wealth of untold stories," says Dorothy Ghettuba, Netflix’s head of African originals.

Global streaming giant Netflix has partnered with the Realness Institute to create an Episodic Content Development Lab for writers in South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria.

The South Africa-based non-profit organization, which focuses on supporting the development of African content and its creators, said on Thursday that it would open submissions for the lab at the end of November. "The opportunity will be open to writers from South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria with film and TV experience in any genre (fictional or factual) or language," it said.

Six writers will be selected from the submissions to work on projects that will be developed and commissioned by Netflix. The selected writers will be paid a stipend of $2,000 per month and "will be expected to be available full time for a period of three months, from June to September 2021," the non-profit said.

"We strongly believe that Africa has a wealth of untold stories," said Dorothy Ghettuba, head of Netflix’s African originals. "As we grow our slate of originals in Africa, partnerships with organizations like Realness will help us achieve our goal of investing in writers who will bring diverse genres of authentic, local stories that will ensure our audience members see their lives reflected on screen."

The Realness Institute launched in 2015 and has organized five editions of its Screenwriters’ Residency, with the new initiative expanding its activities into the episodic content space. "This is a further step towards the Institute’s mission to empower storytellers on the continent and the diaspora and push the African audio-visual industry forward," it said.

"We had fun shaping the program with the Netflix team," said Realness Institute co-founder and creative director Elias Ribeiro. "We all share a love for storytelling, and Netflix’s writer-centric approach is very much in line with our ethos."

Added Mehret Mandefro, a veteran Ethiopian broadcaster and the Realness Institute's director of development and partnerships: "This program is a response to the dramatically changing broadcasting ecosystem, which has a very important role to play in building a thriving media ecosystem in local markets and providing episodic creators with distribution opportunities."

Netflix has recently touted the success of its first two African original series, Queen Sono and Blood & WaterIn September, the streamer unveiled a new Nigerian original series and three new films from the African country.