Rob van Vuuren apologises for using blackface in Leon Schuster film

Rob van Vuuren.
Rob van Vuuren.
Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht/Channel24
  • Comedian Rob van Vuuren has apologised for using blackface.
  • The actor starred in the 2013 Leon Schuster film, Schuks! Your Country Needs You.
  • Rob wrote on Twitter: 'I did blackface and I am deeply ashamed...'


Rob van Vuuren has apologised for using blackface in a Leon Schuster film which he starred in.

This comes after local streaming service Showmax started to review content on its platform that could be considered racially insensitive. A large chunk of films by the South African filmmaker have been removed and are currently being reviewed.

READ MORE | Leon Schuster movies removed as Showmax reviews all content for racial insensitivity

In the 2013 movie Schuks! Your Country Needs You Rob, Leon, Lare Birk and Alfred Ntombela prank unsuspecting South Africans in everyday situations.

On Sunday Rob posted a statement on Twitter in which he said he was "deeply ashamed" and "very sorry for the hurt it has caused."

"There is no easy way to say this. In 2013 I did blackface in a Leon Schuster movie. I am deeply ashamed about this fact and very sorry for the hurt it has caused. I wish I could say that I didn't know any better at the time, but the truth is that I did.

"I made all sorts of excuses for myself at the time to justify doing it. I pointed to the diversity of the demographics of Leon's audience; I argued that his work was most powerful when it exposed white hypocrisy in the 'rainbow nation' and revealed the fears and anxieties of a white minority unwilling to relinquish its privilege. I convinced myself that any of the characters I portrayed would be from a place of love and respect."

The 43-year-old further wrote that as a white father of a child of colour he failed to examine his own privilege and prejudice and despite knowing which direction his moral compass was pointing he chose to take the money and run in the opposite direction.

"In the end, the money fades very quickly, but the choices I make stay with me. I betrayed not only myself but also my daughter. Living with the shame of that is a small price to pay for unlearning my prejudices and the growth that comes with accepting the consequences of my behaviour.

"I have a responsibility to myself and my daughter to be better. I apologise unreservedly for the hurt my actions have caused and for contributing to negative stereotypes from a position of power and privilege. I cannot change what I have done but I can be mindful of how I can contribute to the conversation going forward from a position of empathy and humility."

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Leon Schuster told Netwerk24 that he was "shocked" and "can’t believe that the content of his films does any harm". He said it was "innocent" and just him "pranking people".

However, in an interview with Leonie Wagner from Sunday Times in August 2018 the comedian was "unapologetic about playing on every racial stereotype in his films" but openly admitted that he "does have some regrets about having profited from blackface".

He told Wagner: "I'm so sorry that I can't make Mama Jack 2. If I had a dream come true, my next movie would be Mama Jack 2. But especially on Twitter they said stay away from the blackface, it's not on. It was black people talking to me and you've got to listen. I can't do it because I'll be heavily criticised.

"In the olden days it troubled nobody. But I won't go blackface now, I can't do it. There's not one actor in the world that will. It's just racist."  

Speaking to Channel24, Schuster was unable to immediately give further comment on the matter.