Fra­grance of fame wafts into Joburg

Sunday Tribune - - NEWS - AMANDA MALIBA

VEN­TUR­ING into un­known ter­ri­to­ries and tak­ing risks seems to be some­thing in­ter­na­tional Span­ish ac­tor An­to­nio Ban­deras has a knack for.

His ca­reer took off ex­po­nen­tially in Hol­ly­wood when was aged 31 af­ter he landed an act­ing role al­though he couldn’t speak a sin­gle word of English.

The 57-year-old says af­ter the suc­cess of the movie, in spite of the lan­guage bar­rier, he was called back for an­other movie and then an­other, un­til he be­came a reg­u­lar star­ring in more movies.

Ban­deras be­came fa­mous as one of the few Span­ish mi­grants to make it in Hol­ly­wood.

The star was speak­ing to the Sun­day In­de­pen­dent at the launch of his fra­grance in Sand­ton. “I got into the US at a very par­tic­u­lar mo­ment in his­tory of that coun­try, things were al­ready chang­ing.

“It was very weird time be­cause I didn’t even speak English.

I did my first movie to­tally blind and had an in­ter­preter to talk to the di­rec­tor and I couldn’t un­der­stand my fel­low ac­tors,” re­called­ban­deras.

At the time there was a big wave of South Amer­i­cans mov­ing to the US, work­ing hard to send them to univer­sity.

“So those kids com­ing out, they were ar­chi­tects, doc­tors, etc. They have the skills and worked very hard.

“The re­sult of that is those com­mu­ni­ties sac­ri­ficed a lot of their lives for their kids and that had to have a re­flec­tion in Hol­ly­wood. It was al­most an obli­ga­tion.

“I ar­rived at that par­tic­u­lar mo­ment. It was luck in that as­pect,” he said.

Ban­deras says the out­look in Hol­ly­wood changed and it has be­come nor­mal for Span­ish-speak­ing ac­tors to win Os­cars.

The star, who acts, sings, dances and plays in­stru­ments, de­cided two decades ago to ven­ture into the fash­ion world, in­tro­duc­ing a per­fume range to the mar­ket.

“To be hon­est, act­ing is my ca­reer. All of these things came about in the mid-1970s while do­ing the­atre in Mali, with a group of friends. We all had to de­cide what we wanted to do with our lives,” Ban­deras said.

“I went to Hol­ly­wood and af­ter some time when I re­turned home, they asked me why I don’t di­ver­sify,” he said.

Ban­deras has been in­volved with his per­fume brand for 21 years and for him tap­ping into the African mar­ket was tap­ping into who he was.


An­to­nio Ban­deras at the launch of his fra­grance in Sand­ton, Joburg.

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