Article by: Thandokazi Njongo Prusent
Editor: Mandisa Vundla

Actor Spaces kicked off its very first #MasterClassTalks in a partnership with Ster-Kinekor at the Newtown Junction Mall
–the first of many still to come. An exciting prospect and a step forward towards the creation and the telling of unique stories that reflect the highs and lows of the Film and Television Industry.

Excitement filled the air as budding actors gathered to dip their buckets into the well of knowledge that flowed from industry game changers one would never be lucky enough to find in one room, well within reach. On the panel was Actor, Hamilton Dhlamini; Actor and Acting coach Camilla Waldman; Director Vincent Moloi and founder of Canvas Cam Agency, Anna Hlalele. Thato Molamu facilitated and guided the discussion steadfastly, sometimes placing the panelists on the spot by requesting impromptu performances from Hamilton and Camilla, while Vincent directed the scene.

Seasoned veterans of the industry placed their brains on the table to be picked, sharing intricate details about their experiences. Director, Vincent Moloi gave a detailed description of what a director’s job is on set as well as his personal approach to his craft, which he states is fuelled by his story, his voice, and his background. Camilla Waldman’s passion was on display as she enthusiastically shared her acting secrets, also emphasizing that one’s personal experiences give flavour to all that they touch. With years of acting and coaching experience in her pocket, one would be doing themselves a disservice not to hang on to each word she uttered. Anna Hlalele came in with the technicalities of the relationship between the actor, the agent, the directors and the producers. She wrapped up her talk by highlighting the importance of believing in something bigger than oneself. Hamilton kept it brief, mentioning the importance of an actor; being observant and unique.

The Master Class Talk presented a platform where important questions sprung up from the informative discussions. I took the opportunity to ask the panelists a question or two during the interval; between being star-struck and pleasantly surprised by their warmth, I gathered their insight on the significance of this momentous event. Vincent said the following when asked about the importance of the Master Class Talk, “School is prescribed, an event like this presents an opportunity for us to share our knowledge and unique experiences.” All believed that the event provided a unique learning space different from the classroom because the knowledge shared and discussed was unrestrictive.

To sum it all up, Hamilton Dhlamini used the famous Zulu quote, “Indlela ibuzwa kwaba phambili” so I threw in a question about the sustainability of the film industry as a job creator, especially for newcomers and Anna responded by saying, “Even though the industry is small, there is enough room for everyone.” Vincent pointed out that one needs to truly be unique because that’s what directors and producers are looking for, “It is sustainable if you are unique. We’re looking for unique talent.” Thato Molamu identified passion as being a key factor that everyone in the industry should have, especially newcomers. He added that “People with not enough passion won’t protect our industry.” Finally, I asked whether a Pan-Africanist approach to filmmaking would contribute to changing the way Africa is seen by the rest of the world and the way it sees itself. “Absolutely,” said Camilla in response, “It would give people a voice but the challenges lie in broadcasting and funding.” Thato and Vincent both highlighted the importance of connecting with oneself. In conclusion, Anna had this to say: “Film is personal. You can play with it…You can do it all.”

It was truly a magical day, almost surreal. Young actors made themselves sponges, soaking in all they could. They received treasures they will carry with them for the rest of their blossoming careers.

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