Industry needs to be regulated - Seputla Sebogodi

Seputla Sebogodi says not much has changed for black actors. / Supplied
Seputla Sebogodi says not much has changed for black actors. / Supplied

Venerable actor Seputla Sebogodi has come a long way from being jailed for his political plays to being one of the most revered actors of our time.

In a candid interview with Sowetan, Sebogodi said not much has changed in the entertainment for black actors.

Despite new opportunities and the inclusion of black people in drama schools, many battles being fought today such as financial hardships have existed since his times at classic productions such as Bophelo ke Semphekgo.

"I want the industry to be regulated and I would love for a union that can take care of the actors. And I hope development is something that our government can do.

"This is an industry that can create a lot of jobs and is an industry that helped break the walls of apartheid. People knew about apartheid because of plays," said Sebogodi when asked about his dreams for the entertainment industry.

The Atteridgeville-born actor was a part of the Generations16 who were fired for standing up against poor wages. Sebogodi said despite the hardships, this is an industry of passion.

"In the olden days, there was no schools for black people to learn how to act. But there was a course at Unisa that taught you how to teach drama. I did that course for two years and after that I left because it was just books. Nothing practical that I could learn," he said.

Sebogodi said black plays did not get much attention from mainstream media, but entertainment journalists and critics such as the legendary The World and Sowetan journalist Elliot Makhaya gave the likes of Sebogodi something to look forward to because of his in-depth critiques of their theatre shows.

"When you did a play, you just knew he [Makhaya] was going to come and critique your play and he's going to give an overview and how is your acting. So that was a big thing.

"When we were doing theatre, it was only Sowetan that was coming to critique.

"We were competing with people who had opportunities to go to drama schools and you couldn't even say 'I'm black, I'm disadvantaged'. You had to fight your own battles."

He said theatre has slowly died out in the new SA.

"I'm actually very worried about theatre. In my lifetime I've done 67 plays, but most of them were done before 1994. We always say that these kids are smoking nyaope ... but it's because these kids have acting talents and don't have access to use their skills even in theatres in the townships."

Last year, Sebogodi co-starred with his actor son Thapelo in a play called Flak My Son. Sebogodi said he did not know his son was talented, but was aware that he had good comedy timing after seeing him in a play when he was still in school.

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