Nothing scandalous about Kgomotso Christopher leaving soapie
Limited roles written for older female actors in the industry is the main reason Kgomotso Christopher departed Scandal!despite being extremely happy on the show.
Christopher has booked her next high-profile acting gig with upcoming telenovela Legacy.
The gender gap conversation emerged during our telephone conversation on Wednesday evening, just minutes before President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation. We jokingly guess what Ramaphosa's opening line will be on the night.
"If he's going to be talking about what we can't be buying he's going to start with 'Fellow South Africans'," Christopher laughs. "If he starts by saying 'compatriots' you know it's going to be very serious. I think he's going to mix it up tonight."
Ramaphosa mixed it up as Christopher predicted, starting his speech with a simple "compatriots".
Now in her early 40s, Christopher observes that the gender gap in acting means that many female actors will reach their career peak at age 30 - once you no longer can play the ingenue characters, nuanced roles start drying up.
She adds that combined with her fear of being complacent, that was the driving force in making the hard decision to leave the role of Yvonne "YV" Langa on the e.tv soapie.
The feisty character was not only a hit with fans but also won her two prestigious South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas) for the past two years.
"A lot of times we have to wake ourselves up from our comfort zone. Good endings are never easy - it's easier to walk away from a place you hated," Christopher says.
"I always say this to people: we are not getting any younger and South Africa has a very small industry.
"We all know even internationally as female actors that you have a very short span of your work. It's not to be negative but one has to be realistic and have perspective.
"For me it's something I have thought of for a while in evaluating where I would like to go in the next few years."
Christopher didn't have anything lined up when she decided to quit the show. While you would expect that her phone was ringing off the hook with new job offers, she says that wasn't the case.
She went back to auditioning immediately after resigning from the show in December.
"I have been auditioning for things before the announcement was made a month ago.
"I have been doing a lot of auditions and that's why you must have a plan. I've been lucky that the minute I avail myself mentally and spiritually in terms of my career, a new opportunity comes."
After countless auditions Christopher has landed the gig in Legacy. She will star opposite Michelle Botes, who is renowned for her villainous role as Cherel de Villiers in Isidingo.
The show, also starring Mary-anne Barlow, Anton David Jeftha and Deon Lotz, will debut in September as M-Net's first telenovela.
"It's always scary and exciting to start a new chapter. I'm always full of gratitude because of the flow of new opportunities," Christopher says.
"Moving into uncharted territories is always the scariest because it's a new adventure and gives you an opportunity to start from scratch."
The show that depicts the dysfunctional lives of a filthy rich family is the brainchild of The River creators Phathu Makwarela and Gwydion Beynon.
Christopher loves that her character Dineo is a departure from the roles she has portrayed in Isidingo and Scandal!
"What drew me to the show is ... [it's] so diverse. It reminds me of a lot of shows that we had back in the day, in the diversity of race and culture.
"It gives us a chance to interrogate and mirror the reality of SA," she says.
"The character will be confronting all kinds of racial issues. She's a corporate woman who is super wealthy, well-spoken and sophisticated."
The show started filming a month ago under strict national lockdown regulations. Christopher said she used the lockdown as a period of introspection.
Now her schedule is busy again as she wakes up at 4.30am and gets home at 7pm - and she couldn't be more grateful.
"The work has really dried up. We go to so many auditions a week and there has been nothing [coming up]," Christopher observes. "I haven't been called for an audition in a long time and I'm OK because I'm at Legacy at this point.
"But it has made me more aware that it's not a stable career and the finances are not OK."
During the lockdown, the mother of two also used the free time to bond with her kids. Her daughter Larona, who is in Grade 7, went back to school two weeks ago.
"We informed ourselves and evaluated everything. My kids are not hypochondriac, so we have been looking forward to them going back to school and obviously following the protocols," Christopher says.
"So for us it wasn't a dramatic moment. They missed those social interactions [but] it has gone really well so far."
Christopher says the Black Lives Matter movement that has gained momentum in the past few weeks is very close to her heart - especially since her children are half-American. She and husband Calvin made the decision not to permanently live in the US mainly due to the racial injustices in the country.
"It's issues that we always confront as a family when we have to go to America. For us the racism in that country has made us afraid to live in that country permanently," she says.
"Having lived in America it's something I have experienced. I have a son who is aware of the dangers of being a black man in America."
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