Phil­an­thropic Ban­deras wafts his way into Mzansi

Hol­ly­wood star at­tends char­ity auc­tion and launches new scent

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - PEOPLE - AMANDA MALIBA

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.

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