ok. here goes.
this post has been a long time coming, but i’ve been putting off blogging about it. though it’s not like writing it down would make it any the more real than it already is. it’s real. i’ve known it for the last 6 months, but i haven’t wanted to/been able to acknowledge it here:
as of mid-july, i’m joining the ranks of the unem…, i mean, self-employed.
yes, the recession is making itself felt even in the soap-world as those of you in south africa are probably aware. the sabc has relocated to the long-developing city of “groot kak” and even some of it’s biggest cash-cows, soaps like “sewende laan”, “generations”, “isidingo”, etc, are at risk of closing down due to sabc management’s (what a misnomer!) mismanagement of it’s funds. it’s a scary situation for us soap actors. just imagine the city of gold populated by unemployed soap actors….. suicideville.
i, though, don’t work for the sabc. the soap i’m in goes out on m-net, the pay-channel, but it’s not much better. last year, right before contract renegotiations, m-net announced to the production company that it was not increasing it’s budget for the coming season. basically that means that what with inflation, the company now has less money than it did last year, to put out it’s product (while it’s building a multi-million rand studio for the production). so essentially, actors who were being offered contract renewal had to take it or leave it. some left it. some were let go. and i’m one of the people being let go.
it’s almost exactly 4 years now since the company imported me from l.a. to come and be in their new soap. i’d come to visit for 2 weeks for my brother’s wedding when my agent tracked me down and told me they were struggling to cast this character and would i be interested in meeting with the producers. i’d been acting in l.a. and had no intention of ever coming back to south africa, let alone johannesburg, but the offer was too tempting to turn down. i was back in johannesburg as suddenly as i’d left it 12 years before. starting from scratch. acting in afrikaans with american inflections. i signed on for what was then a drama for 8 months , thinking i’d soon be back “home”, but eventually during the second season when the show became a daily soap, i packed up my stuff in l.a. and put it in storage. now 4 years later, the reality of this recession is that no matter how good i am at what i do, or how sorry the company keeps saying they are to let me go, the bottom line is that they can employ 2 other (younger, inexperienced) actors for what they pay me. and the bottom line is king.
i’ve been surprisingly stoic about it all. i’m a good actress. maybe not oscar material, but i bring value to whatever i’m working on. i have talent, a strong work ethic, i hit my marks, i (mostly) know my lines, i take direction and i take my work very seriously. even when it’s just soap. even when i’m only blowing bubbles. i know there are very few people in my “category” in this country and everyone keeps saying that i won’t have trouble finding work, but yes, it’s a little scary. i have a huge bond (thank somebody’s god that the interest rates have dropped!). fortunately/unfortunately i don’t have kids to feed, clothe and educate, but i do have 2 big dogs with huge, healthy appetites and one requiring a 16 grand hip operation. i was hoping to easily make the transition from this show to one of the others, but what with “egoli” wrapping production after more than 20 years, and the chaos at the sabc, this might not be so easy.
the irony is that now that i’m finally free to return to l.a., the s.o. who followed me out here, wants to stay in south africa!!! so i’m weighing my options. i’m looking at my different talents. i’ve always written well, i’m a qualified teacher (though scrap that – not about to go into formal education), i’m a great public and motivational speaker, especially with my history as a survivor, i’d be a fantastic spokesperson, i have a great voice for radio and have always secretly wanted to be a radio dj, i have years of experience as host and presenter, i’m an awesome fire-dancer, and i’m a creatrix. i’m a wannabe geek who’s been online since 1994, i’d be a fantastic researcher. i’ve always designed and made clothes for myself and dreamt of having a clothing line (more about that in a later blog).
though, bottom line. what i do best, is act. not to toot my own horn, but i’m REALLY good. those of you who saw me onscreen staring lovingly into the eyes of a man i couldn’t stand, and sob over his body, will know just how good i am. 😉
so, there. now you know. i’m trusting the universe to provide and hoping that my trust is not misplace.
but i’ve also got to tie my camel to a tree….
P.s. i don’t make a habit of this, but i used this image without permission from here. the mask on the left is original, while i manipulated the one of the right for the purposes of this blog. if the owner violently objects, please let me know and i’ll remove it.