They make us laugh, happy, sad and sometimes (well to others more often) cry while sitting in our lounges daily. Mzansi, just like the rest of the world, loves their favourite actors/actresses. When our favourites are on TV, we leave everything else so that we can catch the latest soapies, telenovelas, drama, movies and even go to theatre productions to get a glimpse of these humans.
We place them on a higher pedestal in life and expect them to be living the lavish lifestyles they portray in the roles they play. Society expects these individuals to be its favourite actor/actress 24/7. When we bump into them at shopping malls, we expect them to stop what they are doing so that we can take selfies or get them to sign autographs.
When they cannot accede to society’s crazy demands placed on them, we call them names and put posts on social media platforms to label them based on our limited access to them. We treat these people as public assets and they are not.
So when actress Vatiswa Ndara documented her fight for better compensation for her skills, the country was outraged and came out in full support. Yet, Ndara is not the only one to have fought this fight. We know of many actors who have been buried as paupers because production houses did not pay what was due to them. Many others just squandered their money, expecting the public to feel pity for them.
Ndara’s letter highlights a need for a true transformation of the cultural creative industry in the country. It cannot be that a country that is crazy about its actors, fails to protect them to ensure that they are not exploited or their craft taken for granted.
Her cry for help shouldn’t be an opportunity for another meaningless talk shop, but for real solutions to deal with the real challenges our favourites face daily.