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The Foxy Five: The Young, Black & Female Web Series South Africa Needs

A new South African web series by black women for black women follows the lives of five foxy women fighting the system.

October 2015 was an explosive moment for South Africa in which the country’s youth, disillusioned with Rainbow Nation rhetoric, rose up in revolution. For fiction filmmaker and young Cape Town creative, Jabu Nadia Newman, #FeesMustFall sparked the forthcoming web series, The Foxy Five.


The Foxy Five is a squad of five young South African femmes who are plotting the revolution ––Unity Bond played by Duduza Mchunu, Prolly Plebs played by Qiniso van Damme, Blaq Beauty played by Tatenda Wekwatenzi, Femme Fatale played by Qondiswa James and Womxn We played by Nala Xaba. You can expect the team to deliver a humorous yet thoughtful concoction of race, class, gender and sexuality.

“Fees Must Fall was a time when I was feeling very helpless and unable to process how I was feeling,” Nadia Newman tells Okayafrica from her lounge in Woodstock, Cape Town, the creative and restorative melting pot for The Foxy Five. It was also when she felt the most creative. “I was learning about so many new concepts that I’d never understood or heard before, and I was hearing it from people who were my age and who looked like me.”

Duduza Mchunu as Unity Bond. Photo: Jabu Nadia Newman

The show aims to provide a semi-autobiographical lens on intersectional feminism in a post-apartheid context, with a 70s styling edge. “You often see YouTube videos of amazing black feminists explaining things, but I wanted to relay that into a story that people could relate to and understand,” says Nadia Newman.

The cast and crew hope the series’ portrayal of complex identities of black women will resonate with black women in the audience. “We can’t all be one thing, but you realise that [the characters] were written as these archetypes so you can identify those specific elements,” Xaba tells me.

Nadia Newman welcomes collaboration from the digital diaspora. “We’re trying to make the production team solely women and predominantly women of colour, even if you just want to work on one episode or get something on your show reel, come through.” Another way you can support is through crowfunding.

Nala Xaba as Womxn We. Photo: Jabu Nadia Newman

While filming the first episode of the series, the squad was confronted with an actual instance of catcalling during the shoot. “The levels of irony were insane,” says Xaba. “Catcalling is one small thing that supports this whole other system that, yho, really hurts as black women the most. We’re the people whose bodies the world in general feels entitled to do with as they please.” The cast, almost as if an extension of their characters, responded by chasing the man down street.

“South African women and their internal feminism can add so much more to the rest of the world,” says Nadia Newman. “There are real issues that we are dealing with here besides wanting to show our underarm hair.”

“On so many levels, South African feminism is a lot more radical than African-American feminism,” adds Xaba. “And yet when we go online and want to learn about intersectional feminism, we have to follow the vloggers who are African-American.”

Tatenda WekwaTenzi as Blaq Beauty. Photo: Jabu Nadia Newman

The team is in agreement that there’s an undervaluing of how radical African feminism is. They see their work as an authentic South African building block to be added to black feminist discourse such as Beyoncé’s Lemonade. “I know ‘Formation’—that’s it. I’m not even trying to throw shade, because Beyoncé is amazing, she’s so amazing, she’s just not African,” says Wekwatenzi. “I’m all about Lemonade and what it speaks about, but also she is just jumping on the bandwagon, because black consciousness is cool and it’s a trend and it’s cool to be woke and it’s cool to be one with your African-ness now,” adds Mchunu. “We are critical thinkers. And there is nothing wrong with admiring something and critiquing it, because that is what intersectionality is,” explains Nadia Newman.

Two of the cast members were not present for the interview, but that didn’t stop the rest of the team from praising them for their contribution to the discourse of intersectional feminism. “There is something so overtly black feminist about the energy [Qiniso] brings,” says Xaba of her Foxy Five comrade. The sentiment of black women celebrating one another is ubiquitous amongst the five. “[Jabu] brings out this gift in me, my inner Queen,” says Mchunu.

Qiniso Van Damme as Prolly Plebs. Photo: Jabu Nadia Newman

“[One day] we were driving to one of the locations and I started crying because I was like, I’m healing, being a black woman amongst black woman, and being a dark black woman,” shares Mchunu. “I felt like wow, for the first time I’m in a safe space, and I’m in this creative group and making work for other women to feel that too.”

“The only way that this shoot was a success was because of black women,” concurs Nadia Newman.

Check out our exclusive premiere of the pilot episode of The Foxy Five, "I'll Catcall If I Wanna Catcall!" above. Keep up with the series on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and find out how you can support via the show’s crowdfunding page.

Qondiswa James as Femme Fatale. Photo: Jabu Nadia Newman

Photo Credits

Photography: Jabu Nadia Newman

Styling: Grace de Kroon

Custom Designs: Micah-Leigh Richards

Makeup: Mehnaaz Alex

Chaze has got Zambian roots and is currently making the most out of a polyamorous relationship between poetry, photography and documentary filmmaking in Cape Town.

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Introducing OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020 List

Celebrating African Women Laying the Groundwork for the Future

It would not be hyperbole to consider the individuals we're honoring for OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020 list as architects of the future.

This is to say that these women are building infrastructure, both literally and metaphorically, for future generations in Africa and in the Diaspora. And they are doing so intentionally, reaching back, laterally, and forward to bridge gaps and make sure the steps they built—and not without hard work, mines of microaggressions, and challenges—are sturdy enough for the next ascent.

In short, the women on this year's list are laying the groundwork for other women to follow. It's what late author and American novelist Toni Morrison would call your "real job."

"I tell my students, 'When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else."

And that's what inspired us in the curation of this year's list. Our honorees use various mediums to get the job done—DJ's, fashion designers, historians, anthropologists, and even venture capitalists—but each with the mission to clear the road ahead for generations to come. Incredible African women like Eden Ghebreselassie, a marketing lead at ESPN who created a non-profit to fight energy poverty in Eritrea; or Baratang Miya, who is quite literally building technology clubs for disadvantaged youth in South Africa.

There are the builds that aren't physically tangible—movements that inspire women to show up confidently in their skin, like Enam Asiama's quest to normalize plus-sized bodies and Frédérique (Freddie) Harrel's push for Black and African women to embrace the kink and curl of their hair.

And then there are those who use their words to build power, to take control of the narrative, and to usher in true inclusion and equity. Journalists, (sisters Nikki and Lola Ogunnaike), a novelist (Oyinkan Braithwaite), a media maven (Yolisa Phahle), and a number of historians (Nana Oforiatta Ayim, Leïla Sy) to name a few.

In a time of uncertainty in the world, there's assuredness in the mission to bring up our people. We know this moment of global challenge won't last. It is why we are moving forward to share this labor of love with you, our trusted and loyal audience. We hope that this list serves as a beacon for you during this moment—insurance that future generations will be alright. And we have our honorees to thank for securing that future.

EXPERIENCE 100 WOMEN 2020

The annual OkayAfrica 100 Women List is our effort to acknowledge and uplift African women, not only as a resource that has and will continue to enrich the world we live in, but as a group that deserves to be recognized, reinforced and treasured on a global scale. In the spirit of building infrastructure, this year's list will go beyond the month of March (Women's History Month in America) and close in September during Women's Month in South Africa.

100 women 2020

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