International success for SA actress
SOUTH African actress and producer Lara Lipschitz recently won the award for best actress for her role in the web series Chin Up, at the fourth NYC Web Fest.
Chin Up is a fresh and funny mockumentary-style web series following the life of a struggling actress living and working in Cape Town.
Lipschitz, who presented on SABC1’s YoTV for 10 years, before appearing on SABC 3 soap opera Isidingo playing Rosie Lawrence, studied drama at Wits University. She graduated cum laude and earned the Johannesburg Dramatic and Operatic Society Prize for musical theatre.
Speaking on her award, Lipschitz said, “I am over the moon. As a creator and an artist, it means so much that the creativity and hard work which goes into Chin Up is being noticed. As a South African, this is one more reason to believe that our standards and our work can compete and excel with the best in the world.”
The festival was founded by Lauren Atkins, who was born in Cape Town but emigrated with her family to Toronto, Canada.
“In 2013, I produced a series about stand-up comedy called My Friends Think I’m Funny that premiered at LA Web Fest (where it won for production and best original concept),” Atkins said.
“Prior to the festival, I went to many different networking events in NYC and they were always well attended, but they were segregated in a way. There would be an event in Harlem for black creators, or a meet-up downtown for sketch comedy performers, but nothing that brought the entire community together.
“Once I returned from LA Web Fest in 2013, the decision was made. In November 2014 we had a one day event to test the waters and a festival was born.
“Six months later when we opened for submissions, the first entry was from comedian Colin Quinn, whose series Cop Show featured Jerry Seinfeld and Amy Schumer. In 2015, we held the world premiere of The Mentors starring Lewis Black (who appears on The Daily Show) and creators began flying in from around the world.”
According to Atkins, this year saw record numbers of submissions and attendees at the NYC Web Fest event.
“The international market is growing faster every year. In fact, over a third of our submissions in 2017 were from outside the United
‘This is one more reason to believe our work can compete with best in the world’
States with Canada, Australia, and Argentina leading the way respectively. Not only are creators entering festivals, they’re attending them. We held an international panel on the closing day of the fest and there were too many people on the stage,” she said.
Atkins hopes that with Lipschitz’s win, more South African creators, directors and actors will enter festivals because “it does help get the word out about their series”.
Past winners of the NYC Web Fest have featured on Netflix.