“Real queens fix each other’s crowns” might as well be the tagline of “Ma’Empress”, the new comedy-drama series that follows five women and the everyday struggles they face as they navigate through life, career, friendships, relationships and everything in between.
— Njeri (@N_Njerri) November 26, 2019
Produced by the power duo of Philip Karanja and Abel Mutua (Phil-It Productions) and directed by Kenji Gatheca, Ma’Empress storyline hits close to home as it tackles various issues affecting women in modern society, including the sexism that stares at them so blatantly in public spaces, body shaming, marital struggles and infidelity, plus issues of identity and womanhood. All while maintaining a sense of humor that borrows from pop culture references and modern Kenyan slang speak that you will immediately recognize, a signature style that Phil-It perfected even with its 2017 award-winning series “Sue na Jonnie”.
It’s great to see Neomi Ng’ang’a back on our screens in a leading role, something she hasn’t done since she appeared in Dorothy Ghettuba’s “Sumu La Penzi” back in 2013. Neomi plays the bubbly TV personality, Renee dealing with childlessness in her marriage and a TV career that takes a turn for the worst in the first few episodes.
Catherine Kamau aka “Kate Actress” features as the naïve, humble housewife Eve, a biochemist who quit her job to take care of her husband and two kids. Kate’s is an out of character role that proves the actress is moving away from typecasting that has seen her play great but almost similar roles in movies like LowlaDee’s “Plan B” and Tosh Gitonga’s “Disconnect”.
“Tahidi High’s” alum Brenda Mwai plays Tasha, a socially-awkward IT geek with a penchant for waistcoats and bold lipsticks. She’s also the smartest one of the group, and the one who struggles the most with getting into a relationship because well, she hasn’t yet invented an algorithm to make it easier for her.
This Ma’Empress series on Showmax pic.twitter.com/q7COOdwOw5
— Wateba. 10.0 🇰🇪 (@iWateba) November 18, 2019
Of course, not forgetting the outstanding performance of Nyokabi Macharia, an actor who has honed her acting chops on stage in popular plays like “Tinga Tinga Tales” and “Too Early for Birds”. Her character, Zawadi is an arty, straight-to-the-point painter-activist who refuses to conform to societal standards of what a woman should be. Other than her liking for one-night stands, Zawadi is a rebel who would rather spend her day protesting for women’s rights than with her new love interest Rio (Norman Abubakar aka “Abu Sense”).
To complete this quintet of strong, independent women taking life and their problems head-on is Minne Kariuki’s Crystal, a socialite and social media influencer who falls from grace after a very public break-up. She believes in keeping up appearances on social media because, for an Instagram celebrity like her, the sound of notifications is like “music to her ears” as she puts it.
You will spot other familiar faces like Brian Ogola (Lusala, Kati Kati), and along the way, Maryanne Nungo (Supa Modo). Nungo, a force to reckon with in the film/TV industry in Kenya plays the enigmatic Mrs. Wawawawawa, a woman so intimidating that only a fool with a death wish would dare mess with her.
Female Friendships, Women Empowerment and Code Names
Ma’Empress finds a balance between humor and tackling serious issues, and in essence shows us what female friends that empower each other could be like. These women have codes for everything. In fact, every episode is a different code name; it’s they summon each other for mini emergency meetings, how their bond of friendship is nurtured, how they pour their hearts out to each other as they share and find solutions to the various and unique problems they are facing.
Ultimately, Ma’Empress is like fine wine. It gets even better with age, or rather as the show progresses. And in the very capable hands of writers like Bryan Ngartia and Queen Gathoni, what could possibly go wrong?
Ma’Empress is available for streaming on Showmax.