ver since the six-part documentary series Harry & Meghan was released on Netflix on December 8, its stars, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have not stopped trending. Now Netflix has shared the news that the series was the streaming giant’s biggest documentary debut ever, being in the top 10 in 85 countries, and with over 175 million hours watched in total.
The statistics about the documentary came shortly after more Harry and Meghan news: Netflix released the trailer to a new series called Live to Lead, which has been created with the backing of the Mandela Foundation and which is being presented by the duo.
What is Live to Lead about?
The new series is made up of seven 25-minute episodes, each featuring interviews with leaders of different fields including the late Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Greta Thunberg; advocate Bryan Stevenson, South Africa’s national rugby union team captain Siya Kolisi, Gloria Steinem and anti-apartheid activist Albie Sachs.
Live to Lead will come out just three weeks after the release of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s six-part documentary series, Harry & Meghan. The couple reportedly signed a $100 million deal with Netflix in 2020 which would see them releasing a series of content with the streaming giant.
However, in May this year a consultant, who works with Netflix and other streaming sites told The Sun: “Sure they may have a couple of million in an advanced development deal to produce ideas, concepts and film pilots, but they have not been handed $100m.
“In reality those sums would be handed over to cover the entire production cost of the project, with Archewell providing a breakdown on fees for all aspects of the making of the show. Included in that would be a broad understanding of the profits too for the company.”
The source added: “The deal may be millions on paper, but they are absolutely not allowed to make whatever they want.”
The trailer was released on December 19, but the one-minute-50-second clip has only whipped up 153,000 views. It has Meghan and Harry introducing the forthcoming series. Harry says: “This was inspired by Nelson Mandela, who once said: ‘What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived.’”
Then Meghan continues: “It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.’”
The series will focus on leaders of different fields who are making a positive difference to the world. “It’s about people who have made brave choices,” says Harry. “To fight for change, and to become leaders,” says Meghan.
There are clips of Mandela and Bader-Ginsburg, and clips of the other famous figures who have been interviewed for the series.
In one moment Jacinda Ardern, for example, is speaking to a crowd that is out of view, saying: “As leaders we have the keys to create a sense of security and a sense of hope.”
Harry and Meghan’s links to The Nelson Mandela Foundation
This project is not the first time that Harry and Meghan have collaborated with someone or something relating to the former South African president. In July 2018 they went to an exhibition in London which was celebrating Mandela’s 100th birthday. They met Mandela’s granddaughter Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela, as well as some of the activists who worked with Mandela to end apartheid.
In October 2019, during their tour of South Africa, Harry and Meghan also met Nelson Mandela’s widow, Graça Machel in Johannesburg.
When did director Geoff Blackwell think up the series?
According to reports, director Geoff Blackwell thought up the series when making a project about Mandela in 2018. He regularly works alongside Ruth Hobday, who also is also a creator of books, audiobooks, exhibitions and films, at Blackwell & Ruth.
Blackwell & Ruth, who will produce the series alongside the royals, have been behind six books with and about Nelson Mandela including 2006’s The Authorised Portrait, which had forewards by Kofi Annan and Bill Clinton and an introduction by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and 2010’s Conversations with Myself, which had a foreword by Barack Obama.
In a statement shared by Variety, Blackwell said: “As we worked to absorb 27 years of Mandela’s personal correspondence, reflecting on his brave and selfless commitment to the welfare of others, we were simultaneously confronted by a news cycle relentlessly focused on certain international politicians behaving in precisely the opposite way— shamelessly pursuing their own self-interest, using tactics of division and misinformation to serve power and not the people.”
“This contrast cemented our resolve to honor Mandela’s values by surfacing the stories of leaders who distinguish themselves through their moral courage, the conviction of their ideals and values, and their prioritization of others. We have been Mandela’s publisher for over a decade and we are fortunate to have a close relationship with the Nelson Mandela Foundation. When we approached them, they warmly agreed to join us in seeking out these inspiring individuals and asking them to agree to be interviewed.”
What is I Know This To Be True?
Self-described as “a collaboration between the Nelson Mandela Foundation and its long-time creative partners, Blackwell & Ruth” I Know This To Be True is the name that has been given to the interview project that has been turned into Live to Lead. The interviews were initially released as a series of eight small books in 2020.
“We wanted to ask them what really matters to them; to ask them to tell us their truth,” Blackwell explained. “We were looking for, as Greta Thunberg says in her interview, ‘people who care’, people who want to make a difference. Contemporary leaders who, as Gloria Steinem describes, ‘lead by example because, we do what we see, much more often than we do what we’re told.’”
Live to Lead will be available on Netflix from December 31