Exploring the Empowerment of 'QUEENS': A Conversation with Angela Bassett

Bassett, the executive producer and narrator of 'QUEENS,' discusses the groundbreaking documentary series, which celebrates the resilience and power of female leaders in the animal kingdom.

In the realm of the wild, where power, resilience, and leadership reign supreme, a narrative is often overlooked—the story of queens. As the iconic voice and executive producer behind National Geographic's groundbreaking documentary series "QUEENS," Angela Bassett delves deep into this uncharted territory, illuminating the untold tales of matriarchs in the Serengeti.

Bassett's journey into the heart of "QUEENS" was not merely happenstance but a deliberate choice rooted in her unwavering commitment to empowerment and representation. In an exclusive Q&A, she shares her insights into the project, her personal connection to its themes, and the transformative impact it holds for both herself and audiences worldwide.

From her advocacy for diverse narratives to her portrayal of resilient characters on screen, Bassett's journey has uniquely prepared her to lend her voice to the stories of these remarkable queens. With each tale of cooperation, sacrifice, and indomitable spirit, "QUEENS" challenges traditional narratives and reshapes our understanding of female leadership in the animal kingdom and human societies.

BET: How did you become involved in the 'QUEENS" series, and what drew you to this project?

Angela Bassett: National Geographic presented me with the opportunity to narrate a series that goes beyond the usual wildlife documentaries, focusing specifically on the power and resilience of matriarchs in the natural world. As soon as I heard what “QUEENS” was about and the innovative approach the female-led production team wanted to take — I was in! The chance to contribute to a project that not only celebrates these incredible creatures but also aligns with my own beliefs in empowerment and representation was something I couldn’t pass up.

 BET: Narrating a series that focuses on female leadership in the natural world is groundbreaking. What significance does this hold for you personally and in the broader context of media representation?

Angela Bassett: On a personal level, narrating “QUEENS” is really important as it aligns with my advocacy for diverse and empowering narratives, especially those centered around women. In the broader context of media representation, “QUEENS” serves as a pioneering example of highlighting female leadership outside of the human realm. It challenges traditional stereotypes and showcases the strength and wisdom of female leaders in the animal kingdom, contributing to a more inclusive and balanced portrayal of power dynamics across various species.

BET: In your narration for "QUEENS" what aspects or stories did you find particularly compelling or resonant with your own experiences or beliefs?

AB: Several stories in “QUEENS” resonated with me, especially those emphasizing resilience and unity among female animals. From the bears to the elephants and even the bees, I realized these narratives mirrored my own experiences in portraying strong and empowered characters throughout my acting career. The one thing we all have in common is the ability to overcome challenges.

BET: The series highlights the power, sacrifice, and resilience of female leaders in the animal kingdom. What messages or lessons do you hope viewers take away from these stories?

AB: The series sends a powerful message about the importance of cooperation, sacrifice, and the indomitable spirit that defines female leadership across species. It’s a celebration of the untold stories of queens who navigate challenges with grace and power. I hope viewers leave feeling empowered and even more proud of their own womanhood.

BET: QUEENS features a female-led production team and emphasizes the role of cooperation and wisdom over brute strength. How do you see this approach influencing the portrayal of female leadership in the media?

AB: I believe this approach sets a new standard for the portrayal of female leadership in media, steering away from clichéd narratives. Working with this amazing group of women truly reinforced the idea that real leadership is multifaceted and draws strength from various qualities, many of which are traditionally associated with femininity.

BET: Throughout your career, you’ve portrayed strong and empowering characters. Did any of those experiences influence your approach to narrating this documentary series?

AB: Absolutely. The determination exhibited by the characters I’ve portrayed on screen has instilled a deep appreciation for the strength inherent in women. This shaped my approach to the narration, allowing me to bring a sense of authenticity and understanding to the stories of the remarkable queens in the animal kingdom.

BET: The final episode celebrates the women dedicated to documenting and protecting animal queens. Can you share any memorable moments or insights you gained from this part of the series?

AB: Witnessing their passion and commitment left a lasting impression on me. It showcased the vital role women play in conservation efforts and emphasized the interconnectedness between human and animal queens. It was a reminder that by protecting and understanding the queens of the wild, we contribute to the well-being of our entire planet.

 BET: In what ways do you believe "QUEENS" challenges or redefines traditional narratives about leadership, both in the animal kingdom and in human societies?

AB: “QUEENS” challenges traditional narratives about leadership by showcasing a diverse range of qualities that define true leadership. The series reframes the conversation around power, emphasizing collaboration and wisdom over conventional notions of strength. The series pushes the audience to reconsider their perceptions to gain a better understanding of the multifaceted nature of female leaders.

BET: Lastly, what do you hope audiences will feel or understand after experiencing the QUEENS series, especially in terms of appreciating the resilience and power of female leaders?

AB: After experiencing “QUEENS,” I hope audiences walk away with a profound appreciation for the power of the FEMALE. Whether in the animal kingdom or our communities, the series underscores the importance of recognizing and celebrating the diverse qualities that define femininity. I hope viewers feel inspired to embrace the strength within themselves and those around them, fostering a deeper understanding and respect for the queens who shape our world.

"QUEENS" is now streaming on Hulu and Disney+.

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