Q and A with Jerry Mofokeng

By Drum Digital
23 July 2014

rofessionalism always wins.

The legendary actor Jerry Mofokeng has appeared in a number of critically acclaimed films, including Cry, the Beloved Country, Mandela and de Klerk and the 2005 Academy Award-winning Tsotsi. In 2013, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for Acting at the seventh annual SA Film and Television Awards (Saftas). We caught up with the busy thespian to see what makes him tick.

In many of your previous television roles, you’ve played the bad guy. How selective are you about the roles you take?

I believe in the versatility of an actor, otherwise we tempt producers and directors to typecast us. But I’m not that selective about the characters I play – I’m more picky about the productions I associate myself with. Scandal! ?is a good TV show, so I have no reservations about being associated with it.

Older actors sometimes complain about being neglected by producers and directors. Have you ever been sidelined?

I suppose I wouldn’t know if I’ve been sidelined, as such decisions are probably made in boardrooms. But if a role requires an old man, how can the director avoid or be prejudiced against older actors?

How do you manage to stay relevant?

It’s an open secret, really – I do my best in every new role. In all honesty, I also think one’s social habits have an impact. No “babalas”. No harassment of the opposite sex. No prima donna behaviour. P

Having featured in varied film roles in the past, would you ever act in a sex scene?

I would not, purely on religious grounds. In my other life, I’m a marriage counsellor and a pastor, and not everyone can make the distinction between the actor and the role.

You were the chairperson of the judging panel for this year’s Saftas. What is your take on the country’s talent and the originality of stories being told by South Africans? Is the industry headed in the right direction?

The talent in this country is unquestionable – technical, artistic and in production. We have what it takes to make a strong film and TV industry. When it comes to drama and documentaries, there’s a lot of original material coming through.

What is your take on local stories told by Americans?

I might get crucified for saying this – but it must be said: Americans put their money where their mouth is. I wish there could be a way of investing in the good, creative local giants who might not have millions to finance their original South African stories.

What is the greatest challenge facing your profession?

So many people just can’t do business without corruption. It’s so difficult to advocate for good, clean, creative work, and it frustrates me that the corrupt people get away with it. And then people can’t believe that you do honest and clean business.

By KHOSI BIYELA  

Pictures: Mduduzi Ndzingi

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