The MTV Staying Alive Foundation and MTV Base held open auditions at the Bassline in Newtown this past Saturday.
MTV Shuga producers were looking to cast fresh home-grown talent to fill a range of male and female roles in the award-winning drama series, alongside returning cast members such as South African actress Mohau Mokoatle Cele, who plays the role of “Bongi” in the series.
We caught up with the Monde Twala, Vice President, BET, Youth & Music, VIMN Africa to find out more about the MTV SHUGA project:
What was the motivation behind bring MTV SHUGA to South Africa?
If we look over the years, Shuga has been shot in different countries like Kenya & Nigeria. Season one was phenomenal here in South Africa broadcasting on other main channels such as SABC & ETV which has done quite well in terms of ratings. Bringing it to South Africa was more about how do we find ways and address challenges that are faced by young people. We did it successfully in Nigeria & Kenya so South Africa was the next best destination.
How will the South African version fit in with what is already on the channels?
If we look at television ratings, there are genres that are performing well in the youth space here in South Africa. The youth is watching more series, dramas & reality shows, so if we look at MTV Shuga, it is a youth drama series that resonates with culture as well as language which in South Africa the market already exists. Issues of sexual awareness, HIV & AIDS and teenage pregnancy are issues that we experience globally.
Your view on the open auditions turnout?
We are very humbled that such a large number of young aspirant actors have come out to show us what they can do, giving their best shot in hopes to making it to the Shuga cast. This shows that the youth in South Africa is hungry to actively change their circumstances.
Do you believe that we have the next international star on Season 5?
The cross-border culture that has been introduced by digital media has allowed us to communicate to an audience across borders. We are also hoping to open doors for the talent that will be joining Shuga to create pan African talent to follow in the footsteps of Lupita Nyongo, Pearl Thusi & Bonnie Mbuli to name but a few. Here in South Africa we have talent that can deliver in a global level and fortunately as the VIACOM group we have platforms that will showcase the talent in this project at a global level.
What can viewers look out for on MTV SHUGA season 5?
Viewers can look out for a fantastic story line. The South African story line is very edgy and entertaining. We have been analysing the marketing and figuring out what it is that it wants which is exactly what they will be receiving from this season. Shuga has a fantastic record since 2009, we are hoping to continue improving it with South Africa by changing lives and impacting positively on the youth of Africa. Viewers can also look out for the new talent that we will be bringing to their screens.
From a story perspective, South Africa does offer a different story line and production value, we have the location, the crew and partners such as The Department of Health & Education who have been very supportive of programs that tackle issues that speak to the youth. Issues such as teenage pregnancy & illegal abortions among others. With this project, we are trying to find ways to engage with young people in a way that is addressing social issues while adding entertainment value.
Catch the premier of season 5 on MTV Base, BET and other terrestrial broadcasters from March, 8 2017.