Advanced Television

VIS Social Impact launches Beyond the Binary: Fluid Voices

March 29, 2022

VIS Social Impact, the cause-driven production division of Paramount’s international studio, VIS, has announced the launch of its inaugural writers’ room; ‘Beyond the Binary: Fluid Voices,’ led by actor, writer and director Thishiwe Ziqubu.

A stellar line-up of seven African writers with different levels of experience have been selected for the opportunity to create content that focuses on the themes of climate change, equity and global health. The room is made up of those who identify as queer, genderqueer, non-binary, gender non-conforming, genderfluid and transgender, from five countries across sub-Saharan Africa.

The talented writers who are participating include:

  • Makgano Mamabolo, a show runner, producer, scriptwriter and director who has twenty years of experience with notable roles in Zulu Wedding and Diamond City on Netflix, based in South Africa
  • Tatenda Mbudzi is a writer, actor, director, comedian and visual artist from Zimbabwe, based in Los Angeles, he has consulted for Triggerfish Animation and Disney and his feature Zim High has won numerous awards
  • Mia Arderne is writer with bylines in prominent African publications such as Mail & Guardian, VISI magazine and more, also based in South Africa
  • Nyembezi, an up-and-coming writer and director from Malawi, joins having just released a short film, On Isibindi Street last year
  • Ado Aminu is a content writer for RED media, based in Nigeria, joins to explore intersectional identities in writing
  • Sonia Audi, is a published author, creative, activist and community organizer, they have been involved in a number of collaborative projects such as Rainbow Childhoods by the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya
  • Change agent, model, and influencer, Glow Makatsi is a South African aspiring writer, eager to explore the realms of gender equality, social justice, and representation politics

“We are thrilled to kick-off VIS Social Impact’s first-writers’ room with a group of incredibly talented creatives. The candidates have all demonstrated a passion for social impact and will bring their unique lived experiences, interests and points of view to the room, which we are confident will result in powerful content creation and further the mission of Paramount’s global Content for Change initiative,” said Georgia Arnold, Head of VIS Social Impact and Senior Vice President of International Social Responsibility at Paramount.

Thishiwe Ziqubu, Beyond the Binary: Fluid Voices Head Writer and Director said, “As a gender non-binary person myself, it is an honour to lead the program’s directive as a mainly gender diverse room. My personal agenda, which aligns with VIS Social Impact, is to give room for marginalized identities to hold the mic. Our task is to tell entertaining, character-driven stories that impact change on the social issues humanity is battling. Hardly ever do the ‘Others’ get prime selection in any media program. We’re making history here. I am honoured to be at the helm of this powerful movement”.

Beyond the Binary: Fluid Voices writers’ room will run weekly for four months between February and May 2022. An esteemed group of experts will meet with the writers and collaborate with them to support the creation of their ideas and ensure accuracy. The expert advisers are as follows:

  • With a perspective on climate is Hilda Flavia Nakabuye, a climate and environmental rights activist who focuses much of her work on protecting Lake Victoria;
  • Renowned advocate for global health care and United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng will be informing the writers on access to healthcare on the continent;
  • Dr. Beverly Ditsie, an activist, artist, filmmaker and one of the founders of the Gay and Lesbian Organization of Witwatersrand who will provide insight into LGBTQ+ rights and registration; and
  • Ava Heather Mrima will guide the writers with her knowledge of gender identity, Ava works for Jinsiangu, a charity in Kenya which aims to improve the lives and wellbeing of intersex, trans and non-binary persons through the establishment of safe spaces, through advocacy and research.

“Edutainment, diversity and inclusion, social impact and authentic storytelling are the cornerstones of Paramount’s brands in Africa, we are proud to be part of this pioneering initiative. Having seen that impact is driven through showcasing rising talent, this platform will bring about authentic African stories and showcase the need for an integrated, synergistic knowledge sharing approach to drive change. Thank you to all the writers participating in Beyond The Binary: Fluid Voices’ program, we wish them all the best in this journey”, said Monde Twala, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Paramount Africa.

VIS Social Impact is part of Content for Change, Paramount’s global initiative that aims to counteract racism, bias, stereotypes, and hate on and off-screen through three pillars, one of which is focused on systemically transforming the creative supply chain.

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