‘Actor Spaces is a movement that is set to celebrate the craft of acting.’ – Ayanda Sithebe

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He is the founder and CEO of Actor Spaces, a digital platform for actors consisting of a digital online magazine that promotes excellence within acting spaces. Ayanda talks to us about the Actor Spaces movement.  

Please tell us a bit about yourself. 

I am a dreamer and also a creator who is really passionate about the craft of acting. I was born in Ladysmith in KZN, and raised by my grandmother in Soweto. 

When and how did you fall in love with the acting/film industry?

As early as seven years old, I think I have always been a storyteller. I grew up with a wild imagination, to date I still carry that imagination. I would watch movies with a group of friends at one of their houses, after each movie as the credit roll went up, we would run up in front of each other and re-enact the whole movie.

How did your career start out?

I met the late Mr Ali Makwela (he was an old school actor who played the role of a dodgy pastor character on Rhythm City back in the days). Mr Makwela came to our high school to perform a one hander (monologue), getting ready for the Grahamstown Fest. After his show my friends and I ran to ask him if he could teach us to be performers. Before we parted ways he had introduced me to an agency called MNM founded by the late Herman Mbatha and managed by Nelsen Mokoena. We attended classes every weekend, camped there, rehearsed our lines like nothing else mattered. From thereon I grew as a young actor, I went on to be casted for theatre and TV appearances in ads, drama series like Hillside and Soul Buddies to name a few. The more I delved in the industry the more I branched out to other industry fields with a passion for coaching and directing.

What do you do now?

I run Actor Spaces as the CEO and Creative Director. This entails looking into the day-to-day business of the space, developing shoot concepts for our online magazine, working closely with our editor Mandisa Vundla and Mlungisi Mlugwana, who is our head photographer. Aside from that I work as an acting coach, I’m really passionate about the development process for actors and believe that acting can be used as a resolve to a lot of society’s challenges. I also put on a director’s hat for TV and theatre shows. I will always be grateful to Mandla N who gave me my first directing opportunity for Ambozala season 2 and is one of the people I reference in this industry as he’s managed to achieve in the business of art.

Please tell us about Actor spaces. How did that come about?

Actor Spaces is a movement that is set to really celebrate the craft of acting. In almost all of the industry fields that I have worked for, the biggest gap that I saw was the need for an accessible platform for actors that allows for interaction, discussion and appreciation for the craft. Actor Spaces is purely dedicated to actors and the growth of the industry. The space also bridges the gap between actor and fan/viewers. Dor the longest time viewers still don’t know some actors real names, we believe that the actor has their own script to narrate for viewers to see the person behind the lime lights. This also allows for us to start building/archiving our legends great work for many more generations to see. 

What is actor spaces about?

Actor Spaces is platform that that is set to identify and promote excellence in the South African Film, Theatre and Television industry. We feature, profile and document industry professionals that excel in their craft and continue to give South African stories a heartbeat.  Our platform serves to create a lasting digital footprint for actors and their brands. We archive their stories and we honour their excellence. 

Congratulations on your SATFAs Ster-Kinekor Youth Achiever Award. What does the recognition mean to you?

Not only to me but to my entire team, it means the platform that we have opened is validated and welcomed, which fuels a bigger blaze for us to keep working hard to service the arts space. And with the support and partnership with Ster-Kinekor Actor Spaces can reach greater heights especially because our mandates of developing the industry are aligned.

In your SAFTAs speech, you thanked Sdumo Mtshali. Please tell us about his involvement with Actor Spaces.

A few months after establishing this brain child, my awesome partners in the business Macus Demand, who’s the current ACT CEO, and Izwelisha Creatives which is owned by Sdumo Mtshali, Pallance Dladla and Ntokozo Buthelezi, joined into Actor spaces. I am a strong believer of collaborations, you can’t be an island if you want to grow and expand. My partners continue to play a vital role in the business because they are each crucial role players in the industry.  

What kind of challenges do you face with actor spaces and how do you overcome them?

Since Actor Spaces started as a passion project, the biggest challenge for me has been to monetise the business without making it too commercial. this is an ongoing challenge which I consciously take in my stride as its helping me develop as an entrepreneur, so I haven’t overcome it but rather use the challenge to further develop. With my awesome partners we are able to brainstorm and find solutions through each feature or project. 

Photographer: Mlungise Mlugwana for Actor Spaces

Stylist: Phumlani Madodo

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