Here we go again with the Open Up The Industry debate

It will be a never-ending debate.

By  | Jun 22, 2020, 01:44 PM 

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A to Zee open the industry

So this week Producer and Director Shona Ferguson ruffled up a few feathers when he named a list of actors he'd love to write a story for.

In that list were a number of names we've all become quite familiar with, actors we either see on a weekly basis on our TV screens or occasionally on local films.

The list had a lot of people hot and bothered about how the entertainment industry tends to use the same faces for television shows which is a statement that is somewhat true but very sensitive to discuss because well... where else can these re-occurring faces find new jobs if roles are given to new and up and coming actors?

The #OpenUpTheIndustry topic is a susceptible one because at the end of the day it all boils down to employment, how people can put food on the table and provide for their families with the craft they've chosen as a profession.

I remember when the #OpenUpTheIndustry topic first surfaced back in 2016 and how everybody had their own opinion about the matter at hand.

The public and those who have not yet broken into the industry had very valid points about how it seems as though the entertainment industry is "recycling" talent.

The actors/entertainers already in the Industry
Vatiswa Ndara

However, the actors who are in the industry also had their fair share of opinions about how one-sided the #OpenUpTheIndustry discussion has become.

Veteran actress - Vatiswa Ndara had the perfect response of how problematic this hashtag is as people from the outside are not aware of how difficult it is to get jobs in the industry even if you've been working as an actor for years.

Speaking on CliffCentral, she said:

"I hate that line. Can I tell you why? Because, I mean, there was this whole thing about opening up the industry, it's not easy for actors. So if you see me in one show, which was probably shot last year and then you see me in something now, we've probably shot that over a month..."

Gareth then added: "it doesn't mean that you're still working."

Vatiswa agreed with the radio host and added: "Exactly! And people don't understand and they say 'we're seeing the same faces over...' Do you know how long those faces have not been working?"

The likes of Bonang have also commented about opening up the industry, and she has admitted that if she had to rely on only one of her jobs in entertainment, she would not be able to provide for herself.

The struggle of not having a large social media following


On the other hand, some actors who have been in the game for a while have shared how they've lost jobs because of the elements that come with opening up the industry, things such as social media following.

For example, actress Lorcia Cooper shared that she lost jobs because her social media following wasn't as appealing as someone new in the industry who has a far greater following or a socialite, who probably is less talented than she is but has a much more palatable social media presence and following.

Speaking on Trending SA, she said: "Our industry has gotten into this thing where everything is superficial, and 'let's book you 'cause you have a following. I've lost jobs because my following was less than someone else's."

She explained that they'll tell you that your following is not good enough. "And you're like 'but I have skill'. Skill should always be more important than your following.

There are means of getting new talent in the industry

So again, this topic about opening up the industry will always have two sides to consider, but if there's one thing I am sure of, is that the entertainment industry is TRYING to rope in new talent for as many projects as possible.

An excellent example of this initiative would be the many local films that play on Mzansi Lokshion Bioscope. If you watch the channel often, you will see that there is so much new talent that feature on these films.

It is rare that I watch any of these films and come across the usual suspects

It’s a work in progress

So yes, the industry still ha our daily shows do tend to use the same entertainers, but broadcasting companies such as MultiChoice and the SABC are, to a certain extent, trying their utmost best to open their doors to new talent.

We must also remember that there are also business reasons why certain people are used more often than new talent.Β 

Just think about it, would Miss SA hire an MC who has been on the scene for two years over a well-known host like Bonang?Β 

I highly doubt it, sometimes production houses choose people whom they know will be able to deliver and pull in the crowds. It's just how the business is.

Main Image credit: Instagram/@WarrenMasemola

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