The 10 best?.?.?.power women of South African arts

2013-08-04 14:00

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During Women’s Month, we look at 10 game-changers in the world of the arts. Lesley Mofokeng, Charles Cilliers and Percy Mabandu shine a spotlight on these achievers.

1Warona Seane, artistic director at Joburg Theatre

This week, Seane was announced as the artistic director for The Joburg Theatre. She is an accomplished director and actress infilm, TV and theatre.

She is a decorated performer, having won the 2002 Fleur du Cap Award for best performance in theatre/revue/music for For Colored Girls who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf.

She was also nominated for a Naledi Award in 2006 for best actress for Nongogo and for best supporting actress for The Lion and the Jewel in 2008.

TV viewers will recognise her from several series, such as 90 Plein Street, Zabalaza and The Borrowers. Seane was also a director for the production of Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed and Antonio David Lyons’ We Are Here.

She most recently directed The Mountaintop at The Market theatre.

2Candy, the new Kalawa Jazmee frontwoman

Thanks to DJ Oskido’s dance hit, Tsa Mandebele, Candy has legions of followers from three years old up to 90.

She lent her voice to do some folk storytelling over the thumping beats of the house track that was nominated as record of the year at this year’s SA Music Awards.

It’s a catchy danceathon boasting Khelobedu folklore as recited by Candy, and the tiny tots and schoolgoers have taken it to heart.

Now the 42-year-old from Ga-Sedibeni village in Modjadji, Limpopo, whose real name is Sekedi Mokwena, is every child’s favourite aunt. She’s even organising a creche tour for the children to see her in action.

Not only does she entertain with her music, but she is at the forefront of making Khelobedu the 12th SouthAfrican official language, as espoused by Dr Mathole Motshekga.

3Ruth Phume, Tshwane TV station manager

At 31, Phume calls the shots at the TV station servicing the capital city and its surrounds.

She left school to conquer the broadcasting industry. She was driven by a passion inspired by her own family, who are also involved in the media.

In 1999, she worked for VIP Production as an editor and also dabbled in camera work.

She produced videos for different churches on the SABC and also directed some shows.

In 2006, Phume hosted Gospel Mix on Africa Magic channel.

She is a winner of a Promax BDA Africa Award and last year she was appointed as Tshwane TVstation manager.

4Dj Zinhle, rocking house Dj

Her delicate look and pleasant demeanour proved that you don’t have to be butch to make it in house music, which is dominated by the likes of the muscular and tattooed DJ Fresh.

Once she conquered the decks, she set her eyes on acting and has since appeared in dramas such as Rhythm City and eKasi: Our Stories.

Last year, she competed in the Tropika Island of Treasure.

She was the Jika Majika resident DJ and has graced the stages as far afield as London shoulder to shoulder with South Africa’s finest male DJs, Vinny da Vinci, S’bu, Oskido and Christos.

5Tara Notcutt, theatre director and writer

Notcutt is hot stuff in stage circles.

Her award-winning Three Little Pigs is currently touring the biggest festivals of the world on the back of its National Arts Festival success last year.

As the artistic director of The Pink Couch, a collective that has created works such as Mafikeng Road and .?.?.?miskien, Notcutt has made her mark.

The work she does is smart, engaging and original.

This year, she directed Thom Pain (Based on Nothing), billed as stand-up existentialism, which was selected to travel to the Amsterdam Festival as one of the Best of the Fest pieces from this year’s National Arts Festival.

6Rose Francis, former model and publisher

A former high-profile model with international success in the 1980s, Francis has blazed a trail in the publishing industry over the past six years with her company, African Perspective Publishing.

The variety of local fiction, nonfiction and poetry she has publishing is outstanding.

These include The Empowered Native by Letepe Maisela, Memory Is The Weapon by Don Mattera, Dreams Of Flight by Myesha Jenkins, WENA, a collection of contemporary poetry by Ntsiki Mazwai, and The Politics Of SouthAfrican Football by Oshebeng Alpheus Koonyaditse.

Her company also runs school programmes to encourage reading and writing among teenagers.

In 2010, Francis received a United Nations World Media Award for best publication for Nostalgic Waves from Soweto: Poetic Memories of June 16, a poetry anthology by Sol Rachilo.

7Melinda Ferguson, publisher, editor and writer

After writing Smacked, a tell-all autobiography about her battles with drug addiction, Ferguson’s relentless drive and energy has seen her penning another two books, Hooked (about combating the numerous other addictions modern life seduces us with) and The Kelly Khumalo Story.

She continues to work as features editor of True Love magazine.

A powerful public speaker, Ferguson now runs her own imprint, MFBooks, which focuses on women’s stories, at Jacana Media.

One of the biggest titles she has published so far is Drug Muled: The Vanessa Goosen Story.

8Michelle Constant, chief executive of business arts SA

This is a position she has held since August 2008. Constant is also a radio broadcaster with a weekly programme on SAfm called the Lifestyle Show.

These two platforms, among a variety of her roles in the SouthAfrican cultural landscape, have seen her bring together both corporate South Africa and the arts community.

The result has been a safeguarding of continued arts sponsorship by companies regardless of hard economic outlooks predicated by the recession.

9Liza Essers, owner of the Goodman Gallery

She made the acquisition of this bastion of art life in 2008.

Essers’ role has seen her steer the gallery – and the nation’s visual arts community – through one of its most challenging periods.

This was during the contagious Spear debate after the Goodman Gallery hosted an exhibition by Brett Murray, the artist behind the controversial painting of a naked President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed.

10Gita Pather, director of the Wits theatre

She has made a contribution both as a cultural activist and creative director.

Apart from co-producing a vast list of theatrical productions, Pather has a long history of development and leadership in the arts.

She helped establish the Transnet mobile theatre trucks in 1994, which took the arts to previously unreachable places.

Pather also established the Women’s Arts festivals, which help focus the spotlight on women’s issues and creative talents.

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