Big screen’s lead­ing man wears many hats

The Sunday Independent - - NEWS - @Aman­daMal­iba AMANDA MALIBA

VEN­TUR­ING into un­known ter­ri­tory and tak­ing risks seems to be what Span­ish ac­tor An­to­nio Ban­deras has a knack for.His ca­reer took off in Hol­ly­wood af­ter he landed an act­ing role, although he couldn’t ut­ter a word of English at the age of 31.

The 57-year-old says that af­ter the suc­cess of that movie in spite of the lan­guage bar­rier, he was called back for other movies.

Ban­deras be­came fa­mous as one of the few Span­ish mi­grants to make it in Hol­ly­wood, but he says he ar­rived at the right time.

“I got into the United States at a very par­tic­u­lar mo­ment in the his­tory of that coun­try; things were al­ready chang­ing.

“It was a very weird time be­cause I didn’t even speak English at all. I did my first movie to­tally blind, and had an in­ter­preter to talk to the direc­tor, and I couldn’t un­der­stand my fel­low ac­tors,” re­calls Ban­deras, who ar­rived for the first time in Africa last week.

“For many years, there was a big wave of the Span­ish community mov­ing from South Amer­ica to the United States as im­mi­grants for many dif­fer­ent rea­sons, and that community worked hard for many years to take their kids to univer­sity. So those kids, com­ing out, they were ar­chi­tects, doc­tors and they had the skills and worked very hard.”

He points out that there is a dif­fer­ent out­look in Hol­ly­wood to­wards the Span­ish community.

Ban­deras de­cided two decades ago to take an­other leap of faith, and ven­tured into the fash­ion world by in­tro­duc­ing a per­fume range to the African mar­ket, where he says he is ex­cited to op­er­ate in.

“I do wear many hats. To be hon­est, act­ing is my ca­reer. All of these things came by in the mid70s while do­ing the­atre in Mali with a group of friends. We all had to de­cide what we wanted to do with our lives, so I de­cided to be­come a pro­fes­sional ac­tor, and my friends stayed in Mali and be­came busi­ness peo­ple.

“I went to Hol­ly­wood, and af­ter some­time when I re­turned home, they asked me why I didn’t di­ver­sify in what I’m do­ing. They said ‘you should be get­ting busi­ness out of it’. I started learn­ing that in that path, I can be creative in do­ing busi­ness,” he says.

Ban­deras has been in the per­fume space for 21 years now, and tap­ping into the African mar­ket, for him, is tap­ping into who he is – “a mid­dle-class person”.

“That is ac­tu­ally my seg­ment. Not only be­cause that is the po­si­tion we are tar­get­ing in the mar­ket, but be­cause that is what I am.”

What he has re­alised af­ter his years in the in­dus­try is that “ev­ery­thing is the same”.

“You can be an artist, a car me­chanic, a pi­ano player; in do­ing that, ev­ery­thing is the same. We all want to send mes­sages. We all try to com­mu­ni­cate things in many dif­fer­ent ways which de­scribe our re­la­tion­ship with life.”

PIC­TURE: ITUMELENG ENGLISH

Span­ish ac­tor An­to­nio Ban­deras

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