Netflix announced on February 17th its plan to turn Lupita Nyong’o’s graphic novel series Sulwe into an animated-musical. Sulwe has previously been featured on the streaming platform’s original series Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices!, read aloud by the Oscar-winning actor herself. The series features Black-authored short stories read by celebrity figures “to spark kid-friendly conversations about empathy, self-love and antiracism” (Netflix).
Sulwe, the novel series, is illustrated by Vashti Harrison and was originally published in 2019 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. It tells the story of title-character Sulwe, a young girl who begins to notice that her skin color is darker than everyone else she knows. She is insecure about her difference and wishes to blend in, until one night Sulwe is taken on a magical journey by a shooting star. She learns the importance of self-love and inner-beauty from sisters Night and Day. Nyong’o says that Sulwe’s story speaks to her own experience growing up, as she recounts, “It was a long journey for me to arrive at self-love. Sulwe is a mirror for dark-skinned children to see themselves, a window for those who may not be familiar with colorism, to have understanding and empathy.”
Nyong’o is set to produce animated-musical Sulwe, as the project joins a growing list of Netflix original animations. Last year, Netflix was nominated for best animated film Klaus, as well as received positive reception for The Willoughbys and Over the Moon, both featuring high-profile casts. Also in the works for animated-originals is an adaptation of Brian Jacques’ beloved, child fantasy series Redwall, stop-motion filmmaker Henry Selick’s Wendell and Wild, voiced by comedic duo Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key, Richard Linklater’s Apollo 10½: A Space Age Adventure, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, and many more. Nyongo’s New York Times bestseller makes a wonderful addition to Netflix’s animation line-up, surely to be anticipated by children and adults alike.
Sulwe is going to be an animated movie!! 💜✨🎬Thank you to the readers of all ages who have joined #Sulwe on her starry ride. I’m so excited for this next adventure on @Netflix! 💫 #BrightnessIsJustWhoYouAre pic.twitter.com/AmHeC5G9KV
— Lupita Nyong’o (@Lupita_Nyongo) February 18, 2021