AN EN­SEM­BLE OF LO­CAL ACT­ING TAL­ENT

IF YOU WERE ASKED IN A PUB QUIZ TO NAME A WORLD-FA­MOUS SOUTH AFRICAN STAR, YOU’D YELL CHARLIZE THERON AND WIN THE POINTS. WE RECKON IT’S TIME MORE OF OUR TAL­ENTED AC­TORS HIT THE GLOBAL LIME­LIGHT, AND HERE ARE THREE WE TIP FOR THE TOP.

In Flight Magazine - - IN THIS ISSUE - TEXT: LES­LEY STONES | IM­AGES © SUZY BERN­STEIN, BE PHAT MO­TEL FILMS & THANDILE ZWELIBANZI

Shoot­ing the film Some­times in April made Pamela Nomvete re­assess the way she views her cho­sen ca­reer. The film about the Rwan­dan geno­cide saw the cast spend three months on lo­ca­tion re­search­ing the story.“That job lifted my idea of why I wanted to be in the arts. It went from be­ing to­tally self-cen­tred to re­al­is­ing that the arts can have a pro­found trans­for­ma­tional power, be­cause you can walk out of a per­for­mance – af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a story – as a dif­fer­ent per­son from the per­son who walked in,” she says.

Nomvete has a loud and ready laugh and de­scribes her­self as a large ac­tress, then guf­faws and says she doesn’t just mean in the phys­i­cal sense – she has a large presence that fills the screen.

She was schooled in the UK af­ter her ac­tivist par­ents were ex­iled dur­ing apartheid, mak­ing her a South African with a global out­look. She worked in Bri­tish theatres for years and fea­tured in the clas­sic TV soapie Coro­na­tion Street. In South Africa she re­cently starred in the mov­ing play Meet Me at

Dawn, and you’ll next see her as a prison boss in Mzansi Magic’s drama se­ries Lock­down.

The rea­son too few South Africans make it big abroad is be­cause they aban­don their iden­tity, she be­lieves.“South African per­form­ers of­ten copy Amer­i­can or English styles, in­stead of show­ing who they are.You are linked to your coun­try, so bring that to the ta­ble, be­cause that will al­ways make you unique.”

Gain­ing in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence is ex­cel­lent, but then come back and bol­ster South Africa’s arts scene, she ar­gues.“Amer­ica

and the UK built their in­dus­tries to where they’re recog­nised glob­ally and are eco­nom­i­cally vi­able, which we still haven’t cot­toned on to here. Even peo­ple in the in­dus­try see it as a hobby, not a pro­fes­sion.”

Nomvete has writ­ten a pro­gramme to help other per­form­ers un­leash their tal­ents, but they must work harder at mak­ing the­atre and film more ac­ces­si­ble, she says. “Most peo­ple here watch TV and think it’s only a cer­tain type [of ac­tor] that goes to the the­atre, and we have to make that cross­over. In the ’80s in the UK as a black African ac­tor you didn’t have a mar­ket, but it didn’t stop you get­ting to­gether with friends and cre­at­ing your own work, and that en­ergy made the in­dus­try flour­ish and made it more in­clu­sive. Ac­tors in South Africa have the mind­set that it has to be given to you, not worked for.”

WAR­REN MASEMOLA

Slim and mus­cu­lar War­ren Masemola has carved out a niche play­ing the bad guy in movies, and more sym­pa­thetic char­ac­ters on TV. He’s mean and moody in the West­ern-style film Five Fin­gers for Mar­seilles, and a riot of camp fluff and feath­ers as Thokozani in the TV com­edy Ses’Top La.

This ver­sa­tile man can sing, dance, and act in five dif­fer­ent lan­guages, and is mes­meris­ing on stage if you catch him at the the­atre.

Last year he was a big hit at the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val where two of his movies de­buted – Five Fin­gers and The Num­ber, which will be our next chance to see him on the big screen.

That Masemola looks tough just proves what a great ac­tor he is.The “true him” wants to use his tal­ent to chal­lenge the way that peo­ple slot oth­ers into stereo­types.“I want to bring change into the world, and – with my tal­ent be­ing act­ing – peo­ple will get to know what I stand for, and it’s love,” he says. “The char­ac­ters I take on are very rev­o­lu­tion­ary and I ad­vo­cate the change that is needed in life to make hu­man­ity love.”

His favourite role so far has been in the SABC 1 drama Tjovitjo as MaFred, a pantsula dance group leader who pushes the young­sters to use their skills to es­cape from poverty. “I love it be­cause the char­ac­ter stands for the voice­less and face­less com­mu­ni­ties where peo­ple don’t have any­thing to use to get by other than their tal­ent,” Masemola says. “MaFred is my favourite char­ac­ter be­cause he ad­vo­cates love, and if we love enough, we can reach out to each other and touch lives in a pos­i­tive way.”

Masemola says his dream char­ac­ter is:“Ev­ery­thing I haven’t played – I be­lieve I can play 50 more char­ac­ters that I haven’t tried out be­fore.” And 50 more af­ter that, we hope.

LEMOGANG TSIPA

You may recog­nise Lemogang Tsipa from the te­len­ov­ela Isithem­biso, or as the lead in Be­yond the River, play­ing a young man on the wrong side of the law who finds a dif­fer­ent fu­ture through ca­noe­ing.

Soon he’ll ap­pear on the big screen along­side War­ren Masemola in The Num­ber, a bru­tal story about jail gangs, and as a teacher in the true life movie The Boy Who Har­nessed the Wind, filmed in Malawi. “I’ve worked in all medi­ums but my pri­mary fo­cus is TV be­cause it has a big­ger au­di­ence,” he says.

Tsipa aims to go global, but he also wants to fuel the home-grown in­dus­try. “I’d like to see my­self in Hol­ly­wood, but I’d also like to work at home and try to grow the film in­dus­try here. It’s a money thing – all artists want to sur­vive, and over­seas you make a bet­ter liv­ing. Here you strug­gle to get projects off the ground and get money ap­proved for a project.”

At 27,Tsipa comes from the in­ter­net gen­er­a­tion that lives much of its life on­line. “I’d love to pro­duce a lot of on­line con­tent and have it spon­sored by cor­po­ra­tions and make it free for peo­ple to watch, cov­er­ing South African is­sues or gen­eral things that most peo­ple in the world feel,” he says.

Masemola says his dream char­ac­ter is: “Ev­ery­thing I haven’t played – I be­lieve I can play 50 more char­ac­ters that I haven’t tried out be­fore.”

First Page: Pamela Nomvete as a prison warder in Lock­down, and on stage with Natasha Suther­land in Meet Me At Dawn. Sec­ond Page: A moody War­ren Masemola in the film Five Fin­gers for Mar­seilles. This Page: Lemogang Tsipa has made a name for him­self,...

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