Why there’s so much drama behind Lerato Kganyago's "open up the industry" tweet

Lerato Kganyago. (Photo: Gallo Images)
Lerato Kganyago. (Photo: Gallo Images)

The debate about opening up the entertainment industry in South Africa has over the past few years gained much traction and with the amount of evidently recycled talent still thriving – it has become a cause of concern. 

“South Africa is literally so hilarious, your presenters, are also your biggest actors, are also your biggest models, are also your biggest mainstream musicians, are also your lifestyle influencers,” a Twitter user wrote. 

On any other day the above tweet would’ve been just that, a tweet – but it was Lerato’s witty response that sparked up a thunderous debate on the timeline.

“Rihanna sings, gets endorsements, starts acting! Mzansi: “YAS QUEEN”. Beyoncé sings, gets endorsements, starts acting, Mzansi: “YAS QUEEN TAKE THEM ALL”! South African artist starts singing, gets a role in a movie, and bags huge endorsement. MZANSI: “Open up the Industry,” the 36-year-old radio presenter tweeted.

While some tweeps agreed with Lerato’s statement, others simply pointed out that it was rather farcical for her to compare Hollywood to South Africa.

Reason simply being because, “The American (and international) market is huge and fairly open with lots of opportunities & new projects on the regular”, one tweep responded. 

Even Love Lives Here actress Thando Thabethe weighed in on the discussion with a rather clear and straight forward rebuttal in which she highlighted how she had worked hard to get to where she was further adding that,

“Open it up for yourself like all of us did.”

In another tweet Thando pointed out how gender inequity in the industry was a pressing factor that contributed to the lack of inclusion in the industry.

“When the “it boys” that no one labels diversify no one complains,” Thando tweeted.

The debate on social media is endless between the South African industry not being diverse enough to actors and actresses not being paid what’s due to them – it is important to note that personal preference is always given to A-listers whereas newcomers need to grind a bit harder to get to the top.

Perhaps it is also noteworthy to identify with whom the problem lies with here, which is not ‘talent’ per say but the people who are behind the ‘selection’ of the talent.

We cannot take away the hard work that has gone into a career like Thando Thabethe’s but it is rather disheartening to know that she’s likely to be considered for a role simply because of her long standing reputation.

Opening up the industry means delegating jobs and creating an environment where inclusivity takes first priority rather than all-inclusivity, as we see it today.