It is important to not let your circumstances define you,” SJ says. “You are not a product of your circumstances; you are a product of your attitude.
SJ’s mother passed away when he was young and his aunt and uncle took him in. Having had very little contact with his family previously, the experience honed his desire to succeed and build relational bridges across communities.
This determination enabled SJ to pursue his dream of studying directing and writing at AFDA in Johannesburg. Although he stepped into the creative industry where imagination is one’s only limit, his film style reflects his roots and is inspired by real stories and real characters. He believes, after all, that reality is stronger than fiction.
His “big break” came when he was appointed as film director in 2015 at 7Films, under the helm of distinguished owner and director Lourens van Rensburg. Lourens took him under his wing and offered him valuable mentorship along the way.This guidance, together with much dedication, led SJ to the point of being named a partner at 7Films in 2016.
“It is important to not let your circumstances define you,” SJ says. “You are not a product of your circumstances; you are a product of your attitude.”
His passion for film stems from a desire to make a difference in his community and to bring the community’s ideas and stories to the forefront of society.This is also why SJ is part of a nonprofit organisation called Blackboard.The NPO intends to push CapeTown’s creative industry to become more racially diverse, in order to make it more impactful and representative.
SJ believes that most township students don’t consider creative careers as an option because they do not know that it exists. “Our ambition is to change that. We want to give more people in townships an opportunity to be exposed to the world of film. Winning a Cannes Lion is something that I could only have dreamt of. It still feels very surreal. If I think back, it was the opportunity to learn from Lourens that really helped me to sharpen my skill.”