Ugly Betty adapted for South Africa
Latin American comedy-drama series Yo Soy Betty, la Fea (aka Ugly Betty) is being adapted for South Africa and will feature the show’s first black lead.
Pre-production will begin next month on uBettina Wethu (Our Betty), the South African remake of Yo Soy Betty, la Fea, the megahit Colombian telenovela that inspired the America Ferrera-fronted ABC series Ugly Betty.
The show is being coproduced for South African public broadcaster SABC by boutique Johannesburg studio Known Associates Entertainment (KAE) and Cape Town production services company Moonlighting Films, to debut in April 2021.
Our Betty is the story of a naive rural girl who gets a job working for one of Johannesburg’s most eligible bachelors. Despite the challenges, she succeeds in winning his heart and excelling in business beyond her wildest dreams.
Producer Tshepiso Sello said: “Acquiring the rights and putting the finance together for uBettina Wethu has taken four years but thankfully we are there now.
“It’s a wonderful, universal story that has been told in more territories worldwide than any other franchise and we are so happy to be bringing it to life in South Africa.”
Genevieve Hofmeyr, MD of Moonlighting, said: “KAE has a great depth of experience in development and financing, which will allow us to focus on our core competency: physical production. The partnership will allow two entrepreneurial companies to work together at a time when the global market for entertainment content is hungry for new perspectives, and we are well placed to deliver on this opportunity.”
Joel Phiri, exec producer at KAE, added: “Any growth strategy has to involve an alignment with the right kind of partners. We couldn’t be more delighted to be working alongside Moonlighting, a company that has played a key role in putting South Africa on the international coproduction map and who leads the field in servicing Hollywood productions.
“It marks a new chapter for KAE as we are releasing our new joint slate together, one that celebrates compelling storytelling, identity, diversity and youth culture across a range of genres. We’re so honoured to launch this collaboration, and I truly believe we can co-develop some great film and TV projects together.”
Other projects on the two companies’ joint slate include the Gaumont coproduction 418, a limited series set in Europe and South Africa in the 1980s about two South African patriots on opposite sides of the Cold War.
Another show on the slate is 76, a limited series from producer Rebecca Rivo about four students who join a peaceful protest in apartheid-era South Africa, only to see their lives torn apart when the government responds with violence.
Desert Run, meanwhile, is an action-drama series about four young gamers whose lives are turned upside-down when they are recruited as drone pilots by the US military.