I have been in the entertainment industry as a professional for a decade, come end of November this year. My first professional ‘gig’ was a fun tribute show called “Rhythm’s Gonna Get You”. I auditioned for it while studying for my final exams for my BA Theatre & Performance (Honours Equivalent) at UCT. I rehearsed between doing my final practical pieces at Hiddingh Campus where the drama and arts schools were housed. It was crazy, but I finally found myself actually doing what I’d set out to do for after four long, strenuous years of study. Mornings were dedicated to Upper Campus theory lectures while midday to midnight saw me at drama school attending movement to voice classes, doing shows and backstage work, etc. I had nurtured, struggled and followed my talent and dreams and was finally being rewarded!
Rhythm’s Gonna Get You, On Broadway, Cape Town, 2005
See, growing up, I didn’t know that my love for the entertainment craft and the talent I had could get me paid, but would also (down the line) give credence to the old ‘struggling actor’ title. People always ask, or probably think, “But why did you choose to act or sing?”; “Why not choose a stable job, something with medical benefits and sick leave, where you can get a bond, buy a new car?”; “Who in their right mind would choose a job that’s unstable, where you can’t even budget because you don’t have a steady amount each month?”
Montana season 2, Langley Kirkwood as Charles, Chantal Stanfield as Dalene, 2013
Here’s the short answer. I do what I do because it actually isn’t a choice. I believe I speak for many people in the industry when I say; performing is a calling, a vocation. I’ve just recently come out of a five month stint without work. Not for the first time in my ten years! But that’s nothing new in my world regardless of how great your CV looks. I can count too many incredibly talented friends who are actors, singers, directors, musicians and dancers who’ve gone through the same thing more than once. Would you choose that? Nope. But I would ‘choose’ again to meet all the inspiring people and beautiful places I’ve seen, and to feel the satisfaction of following a calling I believe in. It is a pure joy to stand on a stage that ‘belongs’ to you!
Ra’f’iah in short film ‘Coke Town’, 2015
So what do we do in the dry, lean times? In my very lucky case, I have a fiancé who believes in me and has completely supported my firm belief in my talent and my decision to hold my brand to the standard I’ve set. I’ve attended tons of castings and auditions where I’ve reached the final round – basically, between myself and a handful of candidates. Nothing going. For a fiercely independent female like myself used to paying her own way, it’s been a test of belief in my ability and trust in the industry.
The forced time-off has made me do more writing of my own theatre work and for this blog, deepen friendships with friends (who don’t care if you’re broke) questioned whether the industry has changed too much with focus on social media followers vs real talent and focused my attention on personal projects that use entertainment industry principles but aren’t reliant on the industry for work ( cryptic I know but soon…)
‘Hondelewe’ film, Kyknet&Kie Ons Stories, 2014
I got a confirmation call recently for a new TV series and it reminded me that, in our industry, the highs and the lows are par for the course. You have to take the ugly with the good and the bad! I almost didn’t think to celebrate my new role because the last few months have left me somewhat jaded. But I will celebrate tomorrow because each new role is a confirmation that I am worthy to fulfill my dream and each “no” is a chance to grow. And hey, finally, I get to work again! Would love to chat further but right now I have another piece to write for Musings And Musicals!!
Muchos besos y brazos!