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Kenyan-born screenwriter Peres nominated for US film award

Kenyan-born screenwriter Peres Owino was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for writing the Netflix documentary series African Queens: Njinga, produced by Jada Pinkett Smith. The award ceremony will be held on June 7 in Los Angeles, United States.

She is the first Kenyan-born woman to be nominated for a Daytime Emmy and was recently nominated for an NAACP Image Award for writing.

Peres wrote two episodes of African Queens: Njinga, which is streaming on Netflix. The docu-drama was nominated in 12 different categories at the Daytime Emmys, making it the most of any show nominated this year. She shares the nomination under the category of ‘Writing Team for a Daytime Non-Fiction Program’ with Writer Nnenne Iwuji.

African Queens: Njinga series explores the lives of prominent and iconic African Queens. The first season covers the life of Njinga, who became the first female ruler of Ndongo, which is present-day Angola. After a long fierce battle with the Portuguese against the slave trade, she became the only African leader to be recognised by European rulers in power as a ‘female king’. By the end of her life, Njinga had secured a safe, independent kingdom for her people. The royal succession continued with three other women.

Read more about Peres’s journey here.

“I am both nervous and excited. And to be nominated for writing about Njinga! An African King makes it all more precious,” Peres said.

“When I first read the email, I had this weird sort of disassociation. It’s like you are just reading words. Then shock as the meaning lands. The joy and excitement. You can’t stop smiling. And then, without warning, disbelief as the imposter syndrome slowly slips in. It is a constant companion. So you jump back and forth emotionally,” she exclaimed.

The Kenyan-born screenwriter moved to Los Angeles several years ago with only US$10 (Sh1,300 in current rate) in her pocket to pursue her career in theatre and arts as she lived off a friend’s sofa. Now, she continues to write hits such as Netflix’s Queen Cleopatra which was nominated for the 2023 National Film Awards.

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