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Gen­er­a­tions fans will be ex­cited to know that Con­nie Ferguson is re­turn­ing to the soapie – for the third time – but it won’t be for long. “The char­ac­ter is back to tie up a few loose ends. It is a short story arc,” she told City Press this week. She will be seen repris­ing the role on the small screen next year. Asked whether she would let her char­ac­ter, Karabo, die, she said that de­ci­sion was not hers to make. “It is up to the writ­ers. But Ferguson Films [the pro­duc­tion house she and her hus­band, Shona, founded] keeps me very busy, and I am cur­rently play­ing a lead­ing role – that of Harriet Khoza in The Queen on Mzansi Magic – so a full-time con­tract is not an op­tion right now,” she said.

It has been a fan­tas­tic year for the Fer­gu­sons, who are cel­e­brat­ing their 15th wedding an­niver­sary this week. “It feels like yes­ter­day that we were cel­e­brat­ing our 10th wedding an­niver­sary,” said Con­nie.

“Un­for­tu­nately, I have strict in­struc­tions from my hus­band to leave the plan­ning for this date to him. So our an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion will come as a sur­prise to me!”

What is her se­cret to main­tain­ing a happy, long-term re­la­tion­ship? “Be­ing best friends and re­spect­ing, lov­ing and ador­ing each other. And, most im­por­tantly, you need to know that it’s okay to dis­agree – it’s just how you dis­agree.”

The Fer­gu­sons have done well as the co-own­ers and ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers of Ferguson Films. The com­pany is be­hind such hits as the 2014 film Step Up to a Start-up, which was aimed at in­tro­duc­ing South African pupils to the fun­da­men­tals of en­trepreneur­ship and was flighted na­tion­wide at 14 dif­fer­ent cin­ema com­plexes that year; as well as the drama se­ries Rockville and Igazi – both aired on Mzansi Magic; and the te­len­ov­ela, The Queen.

While Con­nie plays Harriet in The Queen, Shona also acts in the te­len­ov­ela, por­tray­ing the char­ac­ter Jerry Maake, a de­tec­tive at Tem­bisa Po­lice Sta­tion. How do they pre­vent their work stresses from in­trud­ing on their pri­vate lives? “Be­cause we are such great friends, it’s ac­tu­ally fun work­ing to­gether,” said Con­nie. “We don’t al­ways agree, but we are happy to com­pro­mise from time to time. Most of the time, though, we are on the same page. My hus­band in­spires me a lot and I know I do the same for him.”

But she ad­mits that watch­ing her spouse do­ing a love scene with an­other ac­tress is no joy ride. “Those scenes are un­com­fort­able. But be­cause we un­der­stand how tech­ni­cal the whole thing is, we are able to suck it up and watch to­gether. One of our rules in our mar­riage is never to judge, and to al­ways be open minded.”

How do the cou­ple en­sure they are al­ways on top of the en­ter­tain­ment game? “We tell sto­ries that peo­ple can re­late to, with char­ac­ters that rep­re­sent us, or some­one we know, in one way or an­other. Real peo­ple, with real feel­ings, in real sit­u­a­tions. Whether it’s hate, love, sym­pa­thy or envy, the viewer has to feel some­thing for ev­ery one of our char­ac­ters.” Be­ing so busy, how does Con­nie bal­ance work with her per­sonal life? At 46, the mother and grand­mother ad­mits that it is a chal­lenge. “It’s all about time man­age­ment and pri­ori­tis­ing. Hav­ing ded­i­cated, un­in­ter­rupted fam­ily time is cru­cial, and get­ting help is a ne­ces­sity, not a lux­ury.”

Her mes­sage to as­pir­ing ac­tors? “Recog­nise the in­dus­try for what it is – a work­place, like any other. The dif­fer­ence is this one might come with a bit of fame, which is fleet­ing, be­cause pop­u­lar­ity can only take you a short dis­tance. But pro­fes­sion­al­ism, ded­i­ca­tion and hard work will take you the full dis­tance.”

She also ad­vises young ac­tors to be money wise, a skill that has to be learnt early on. “Un­like other pro­fes­sions, they have to plan for their fu­ture in­de­pen­dently. That said, it is a ful­fill­ing pro­fes­sion as work can feel like play.” TALK TO US Do you think that Karabo, the char­ac­ter Con­nie plays on Gen­er­a­tions, should be killed off? SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word CON­NIE and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and province. SMSes cost R1.50

Con­nie and Shona Ferguson

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