Preamble to the preamble: More than a year ago (yes, that long – per my records, I’ve had pictures on file for this series since 2017 October which means the researching and writing goes back further), I had an idea for a series on women whose stories it would be cool to see Hollywood tackle. I started researching royals (much as with my fairytale With Grace, which may have been one of the things that teased my interest in doing this, I decided to circumvent the trope; looking at women who were not only royals but turned the idea of being a royal woman or ‘just’ a woman on its head). I found royals in a variety of mostly underrepresented cultures (including a number of Caribbean royal women as well) added to this series incrementally thinking I might blog it or sell it. Well, it’s a year or more later and I’m kind of just keen to start putting it out there; so I guess I’m blogging it. There are about 10 (give or take) so it being almost Wednesday 19th December 2018, I’m going to run it week by week as a sort of nod to the #womancrushWednesday #wcw meme. So be sure to come back for others in the series. And share, share, share; maybe Hollywood will hear us…and maybe need a screenwriter to adapt the story, a screenwriter who’s maybe already done some of the research. Just saying.
Actual preamble: We’ve seen Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth both first and second again and again. Don’t get me wrong; those are worthy and interesting historical subjects but would it be too much to ask Hollywood to mix it up a little more. To, to use a buzzword that should be more than a buzzword in this era of #Oscarssowhite while TV and the Emmys get more inclusive, diversify. This post is a list of 10 (or so) other royal women, awesomely interesting royal women, whom I think would make pretty cool film subjects, but who have never or rarely gotten the Hollywood treatment. And after you’ve gone down the list, I hope you too will be wondering, why hasn’t this happened yet?
She’s Royal #1:
Queen Nzinga (Nzinga Mbande, Dona Anna de Souza)
Her Story: She ruled the Ndongo and Matamba Kingdoms of the Mbundu people in what is modern day Angola, back in the 17th-century. As European powers maneuvered in their bid to carve up Africa among themselves, the Portuguese set its sights on Mbundu land and invited the King to negotiate. He sent his sister. Reportedly, at that first meeting, when no seat was made available for her, in a power move she had one of her assistants fill in (as in substitute as her seat). This diva move notwithstanding, she did initially agree to accommodations – including the huge one of her converting to Christianity and urging her brother to order the conversion of his people as well. She herself became queen in 1626 when her brother committed suicide –in response to increasing Portuguese demands for slave trade concessions. Her response to the pressure was to form alliances with rival states (and with Portuguese rivals like the Dutch) and resist (!), ultimately defeating the Portuguese in 1647 and continuing her resistance even after the Dutch withdrew from Central Africa the following year, leading attacks, including guerilla attacks, well into her 60s. She died of natural causes in 1663, in her 80s, despite numerous attempts to capture or kill her. There is a 2013 Portuguese language TV series about Queen Nzinga, starring Lesliana Perreira, but I’d still like to see her get the big screen Hollywood treatment.
Possible casting: An African queen to play an African queen, Lupita N’yongo.
Next up: An Indian Princess who served as a spy during World War 2.