Jabu Nadia Newman talks about the importance of womxn in film

“My design method is film, specifically telling stories through images.”

Download options

When Jabu Nadia Newman walked onto the Design Indaba conference stage, she asked the audience a question: “Have any of you heard of the Bechdel Test?”

If you’re not a movie buff or majoring in film at university, there’s a good chance you're unfamiliar with the term, but Newman quickly caught the audience up. She explained the gender representation metric and laid out the following criteria necessary for a film scene to reach this standard:

- It has to have at least two women in it, who

- Talk to each other, about

- Something besides a man

The realisation that most films don’t meet these simple standards was part of what inspired Newman to create The Foxy Five; a webseries about five womxn of colour grappling with issues of intersectional feminism. Not only are all of the five leads black womxn, but every other aspect of the show’s production is also wholly led by womxn.

Since its debut, the popularity of the show has soared, affirming the need and desire for a greater number of female voices in South African film. For Newman, it’s also been a cathartic learning experience that has allowed her to grow and learn as a filmmaker.

Featuring a seventies inspired colour palette and aesthetic, The Foxy Five serves as a visual documentation of the shifting social fabric of our country as well as a vehicle of creative expression for its creator.

“For me, design is a new way of creating, it’s coming up with ideas, it’s being influenced,” Newman says. “My design method is film, specifically telling stories through images.”

Check out an interview with the womxn behind The Foxy Five here.