Philanthropic Banderas wafts his way into Mzansi
Hollywood star attends charity auction and launches new scent
ANTONIO Banderas, best-known for his roles in films such as Assassins, Desperado, Philadelphia and The Mask of Zorro, has been soaking up the sun in South Africa and playing the Good Samaritan.
He ended a four-day visit on a high note this week when he spent more than R400 000 at a gala charity auction on Thursday night – the bulk of it on three artworks created by children at Nkosi’s Haven, a charity which offers support to mothers and children affected by HIV/Aids.
The auction at Marble in the heart of Johannesburg’s Rosebank was attended by about 200 celebrity and corporate guests. High Street Auctions lead auctioneer Joff van Reenen sold 16 artworks – five from the children of Nkosi’s Haven and 11 from Banderas’s Women in Gold collection, which has toured the globe for two years raising money for worthy causes – and an impressive R1.2 million was raised for the charity in little over an hour.
Banderas, 57, also launched his new fragrance, Secret Temptation, in South Africa. He has been in the perfume industry for 21 years and tapping into the African market, he said, was 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. I am a middle-class guy, that is where I was born, that is where my family was always and where I was raised.”
The one thing he has come to realise after many years in the industry is that “everything is the same”.
“No matter what you do, everything is the same. You can be an artist, 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.
“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. So I decided to become a professional actor and my friends stayed in Mali and became business people.
“I went to Hollywood and after some time when I returned home, they asked me why I didn’t diversify what I was doing. When I asked what they meant, they said ‘you should be getting business out of it.’
“Little by little, I started learning that in that path I can be creative in doing business. So it came from an accidental place when a bunch of friends said you should do that.”
His Hollywood career took off, after success in Spanish film, when he landed a role at 31 without being able to speak a word of English.
“It was very weird time. I did my first movie totally blind and had an interpreter to talk to the director and I couldn’t understand my fellow actors.
“I got into the United States at a very particular moment in history of that country. Things were already changing.
“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, etc. They had 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.
“They detected a huge market there that they were not pointing at. So I arrived at that particular moment. It was luck in that aspect.”
Antonio Banderas brandishes the silver gavel gifted to him by South African auctioneer Joff van Reenen at a charity auction in Johannesburg this week that raised R1.2 million for Nkosi’s Haven.