Hard-hitting contemporary youth drama puts the spotlight on the ups and downs of love, sex, relationships & difficult choices among vulnerable African teens

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An irresponsible teen mom… a predatory teacher…an ambitious hostess… a conflicted adolescent struggling to understand his identity… a neglected trophy wife… a pregnant schoolgirl… a possessive boyfriend…a ruthless entrepreneur… these are some of the faces of MTV Shuga: Down South, the 12- part new drama series from MTV Staying Alive Foundation and MTV Base.

MTV Shuga: Down South premieres on Wednesday 8 March on MTV Base (SA) on at 21:30 CAT and on MTV Base (ROA) at 22:05 WAT.

Set in the homes, cafés, schools, parks and hangouts of fictional township, Zenzele, and real-life Braamfontein, MTV Shuga: Down South is the fifth instalment in the award-winning drama series, MTV Shuga. With powerful contemporary storylines, relatable characters and an ensemble cast of talented actors and contemporary musicians, MTV Shuga: Down South uses drama to disseminate important public health messages.

The new series, directed by Mmabatho Montsho, Thabang Moleya and Rea Rangaka, includes a new focus on issues affecting adolescent girls in South Africa, with a particular emphasis on their vulnerability to unintended pregnancy and HIV infection. Never one to shy away from difficult subjects, MTV Shuga: Down South is crowded with interweaving stories of heartbreak, love, betrayal and difficult decisions among contemporary South African youth. Other key plot points include transactional sex, living with HIV, infidelity and issues affecting LGBT teens.

In keeping with the contemporary tone of the drama, popular musicians Seyi Shay, Fifi Cooper and Kwesta make cameo appearances as themselves, while Mohau Cele returns in the role of dissatisfied schoolgirl/singer Bongi. Emmanuel Ikubese returns as HIV+ music promoter “Femi”, while Nick Mutuma reprises his role of good boy gone bad, “Leo”. Vanessa Mdee plays “Storm”, wife to Clint Brink’s “Rakeem”. Other key roles are played by Adesua Etomi, Thuso Mbedu, Mohau Cele, Jezriel Skei, Lerato Walaza, Given Stuurman, Samkelisiwe Makhoba, Stephanie Sandows, S’thandiwe Kgoroge, Phila Mazibuko, Ayanda Makayi, Graeme Kriega, Lehlohonolo Makoko, Nqobile Sipamla, Thembsie Matu and Winnie Ntshaba.

Commented Alex Okosi, Executive Vice President & Managing Director, Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) Africa, “Pro-social programming that empowers our audience is an important part of our MTV Base brand. MTV Shuga deals with real issues facing young people through authentic storylines and characters, and we are excited to premiere this latest series, based in South Africa.”

Added Georgia Arnold, Executive Director, MTV Staying Alive Foundation, “Previous seasons of MTV Shuga has been proven to change young peoples’ behaviour and attitudes relating to safe sex and HIV. Moved to a South African setting and context for the first time, we know that MTV Shuga: Down South will make further strides in changing attitudes to unplanned pregnancies, LGBT awareness and other health and emotional issues among South African youth.”

Airing weekly on MTV Base (DStv Channel 322), MTV Shuga: Down South premieres on Wednesday 8 March on MTV Base (SA) at 21:30 CAT and on MTV Base (ROA) at 22:05 WAT. The series will subsequently air on BET (DStv channel 129), other Viacom owned networks including BET International (UK/France), and third party broadcasters including SABC (South Africa), NTA (Nigeria), Citizen TV (Kenya), KBC (Kenya), GHONE (Ghana), RTNC (DRC), Tanzanian Broadcasting Corporation (Tanzania), NBS TV (Uganda), African Movie Channel US (USA), and TV Brasil (Brazil).

Other elements of the MTV Shuga campaign will include a 15-part radio drama series complementing the TV series, a peer educator programme, comic book, audience polling, consumer helplines, mobile information service, social media and a range of digital platforms.

MTV Shuga: Down South is supported by the South African government’s Department of Basic Education, PEPFAR (The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), Marie Stopes International, ViiV Healthcare’s Positive Action MSM & Transgender Programme, CIFF (Children’s Investment Fund Foundation) and FHI 360 (Family Health International).
MTV Shuga: Down South is produced on behalf of the MTV Staying Alive Foundation and MTV Base by Quizzical Pictures.
To continue the conversation about MTV Shuga: Down South, please go to www.MTVShuga.com, like MTV Shuga on www.facebook.com/MTVShuga, or follow MTV Shuga on Twitter or Instagram @MTVShuga using the hashtag #MTVShugaDS.

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