THE acting industry is not all glitz and glamour that it appears to be from the outside.
After Vatiswa Ndara (who acts as NomaRussia on iGazi)’s open letter to minister of sport, arts and culture Nathi Mthethwa where she complained bitterly about remuneration in the industry, more actors have come out in the open to detail the difficulties of the industry.
In the six-page letter, Ndara who also announced that she will not be returning for Season 3 of the hit DStv show iGazi, raised questions on what Mthethwa’s Vision 2020 would be for actors, saying the arts were woefully undervalued.
Veteran actress Marah Louw (Sis Boi on The Queen), who was axed from The Queen in 2017, was among the first to voice their support for Ndara.
Louw, who has been vocal about alleged exploitation in the industry said local actors were always presented with a “take it or leave it” situation.
“What Vatiswa raised is the truth. Our industry is so cruel and rotten. There is a lot of exploitation in the industry but actors are afraid to speak out because you will be blacklisted…” she said.
“I have spoken against exploitation and have been blacklisted. But still, I won’t take peanuts.”
Another actor, Keke Mphuthi (Dipuo Kwena on The Throne) said she was fired from the popular Mzansi Magic drama The Throne after falling pregnant. The drama is also produced by Ferguson Films owned by power couple Connie and Shona Ferguson.
Mphuthi in a series of tweets detailed her alleged mistreatment by the production house.
“Nobody knows how much I’ve gone through because of people that simply don’t care about your wellbeing. I almost lost my kid due to stress caused by them through December as I wasn’t even paid out my full contract,” she wrote.
“Instead, they gave their firing task to their show runner after having a whole meeting Le Shona (which I have recorded by the way) that I won’t lose my job because I’m pregnant … I was paid until February only and yet contract ends May 2019.
“I was so confused, highly pregnant and now without a job.”
Former Our Perfect Wedding presenter Kayise Ngqula also joined the fray, lamenting the harsh realities of the entertainment industry. She revealed that since losing her TV gig, she had been supported by her husband until his death recently in a car crash.
Ngqula said she had been quiet because she feared being blacklisted.
“All of the truth you’ve spoken has crushed me. More so when you spoke about the inconsideration of our livelihood and that of our families. Soon, I will tell the story of how being in a car accident and being severely injured cost me a job which you know about,” she said.
“With that said, I myself am now a widowed, single mother with no job or income to take care of myself or my fatherless son. Yile (because of) industry that I gave myself so much to endiphoxileyo (that has let me down)!”
In a lengthy letter released through their lawyer Brendon De Kooker, the Fergusons said in a statement: “The allegations towards Ferguson Films are consequently misguided, misdirected and misleading and can be seen as a ploy to defame and tarnish our name and reputation.”
“Ferguson Films prides itself in producing quality shows, providing much needed employment to new and old talent and contributing to the growth of the industry.
We will remain steadfast in our endeavor to treat everyone who works with us fairly and with the utmost respect.”
Another lead actor from a popular soapie, who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation said until the president signs Performers Protection Amendment Bill “we will carry on to have no guidelines that pertain to salary and industry standards”.
South African Guild Actors (Saga) accused government of dragging its feet in legislating the local creative industry. Saga said as long as the industry was not regulated, exploitation and condition in which actors work under were never going to change.
Saga chairperson Jack Devnarain said the injustices in the industry were caused by the fact that actors, producers and broadcasters did not have equal bargaining share power.
The Performers’ Protection Amendment Bill — to amend the Performers’ Protection Act, 1967 — was passed by parliament this year. The bill aims to extend performers’ economic rights among other things.
MultiChoice’s group executive for corporate affairs, Joe Heshu, noted Ndara’s letter and said they would engage with Ferguson Films as they encourage fair contractual arrangements.
Said Heshu: “We will engage with the production house in question.” — Sowetan.