Sibongile Mafu

I (also) want to make it in Hollywood

2012-09-19 09:50

Sibongile Mafu

I want to make it in Hollywood. I don’t particularly know why but everything seems better there. Everything is shinier and the smiles are really white.

I’m a successful singer/actor/model /comedian/well-known person in my home country, South Africa, and the next logical and ambitious choice would be to go digging for Oscar and Grammy gold in the land of milk and Playboy bunnies.

I am loved where I come from and I have been featured on pretty much every advert and every local television show, what else is there for me to conquer here? People whisper to me: “You’ll do well in Hollywood; you’re bigger than this place. Just go.” 

Conquering Hollywood

Even when these big international stars come to my shores for a concert or movie premiere, they promise to collaborate with me, showcase African talent and what we have to offer. Nothing ever comes from it, but it’s the words that count. These empty promises feed my dream and make my hunger to be just as successful as these dream promisers even greater. I can be Cinderella. A singing/acting/modelling/joke-telling superstar Cinderella. I will go to Hollywood, do great things, put my country on the map like some kind of Christopher Columbus, and maybe meet Mandela.

Now by “conquering Hollywood” I admit, I haven’t really been specific in what I mean. Basically, I want Americans to like me. I want them to push my popular, radio-friendly product. I have a lot of people back home who don’t enjoy my work, but enough of them do. That’s all that matters.

I know it looks like I’m placing Hollywood on some kind of pedestal, but really, as an artist, the defining symbol of success IS Hollywood. If they can accept your work and craft on that side of the world then you can truly call yourself special. A Hollywood stamp of approval. They should consider changing the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Shame to some kind of “Approved” stamp. That would be a bit more accurate.

The great thing about this is half of my success is the actual decision to leave. People will commend me for taking that plunge and moving abroad. Those who don’t like me will probably say good riddance. But for the most part, the spirit of patriotism as my success grows will spread throughout my homeland. Every time I do anything great, it will be like giving my country the gift of that Chad Le Clos moment over and over again. At least I hope I get to give them that moment. Some won’t care and that’s fine too. I’ll come home once every 10 years or when I win a Grammy or to make a Save The Rhino album. I’ll just pop in and make sure South Africa hasn’t forgotten about me.

Doing it for South Africa

I know it will be difficult to start from the beginning again. My impressive CV may as well just have my name and passport number on it, as all the accolades my home country awarded me will mean very little. Now many would say I’m part of the problem. The slow exodus of talent (talent being quite subjective, of course) from my country, like a promising Springbok player choosing to play in Japan is hardly ideal.

I’m one of my country’s biggest and brightest stars (according to album sales and fried chicken endorsements) and leaving home and plying my trade as a 2nd class citizen in a foreign land in the hope that maybe, perhaps, possibly, conceivably I’ll make it big are good enough odds for me. South Africa will find new talent and call them “The New Me” or maybe the good artists will finally find the popularity we stole from them.

I must remember that this journey to America is bigger than me. I am doing it for South Africa and I am doing it for Africa. If I make it, Africa makes it.

The whole continent will be represented by the Parlotones in the States. Scary thought. South Africa’s biggest selling rock band of the decade has decided to permanently relocate to America. They are a loved and hated brand, I mean band, and this next move makes sense for them.

Nonhle Thema tried to do it. She even filmed it for all us to see, but watching her lumbering her way it through wasn’t really entertaining.

Terry Pheto and Trevor Noah are two people who have found admirable success in Hollywood. You hope it works out for them, if it doesn’t, they can always write a book about their journey, which will made into a movie that they’ll star in, making us remember why they are stars in the first place.

- Sibongile is a videographer, blogger and social media enthusiast who would be nothing without her thumbs. Follow her on Twitter: @SboshMafu.

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