22 February 2017

‘Actors are the laziest bunch’: John Kani dishes out advice to local actors

Legendary theatre and film actor John Kani says there are many elements that hinder the growth of the film industry in South Africa.

Speaking to BET Africa, Kani said it is not only the lack of funding that hinders the growth of the black film industry in this country but also the lack of representatives in the right places and laziness.

Kani, who just finished shooting an American film, 'Captain America: Civil War' said local actors should also take their craft seriously.

 "In other countries such as America, there is someone holding workshops, for acting, writing and creative writing. Our actors only work when they are called to audition for a part and if they don't get it they sit at home."

Kani said he is part of such workshops in the UK and America because people there recognise his experience and pay him to pass his knowledge to upcoming actors and writers.

"Here in SA no one calls for my help. They don't understand that they have to sharpen their skill on a daily basis. Dancers practice every day even if they don't have a gig. Actors on the other hand are the laziest bunch I've ever met in my life. They sit at home and wait for their agent that is nonsense," Kani told BET.

Giving a bit of history, Kani said, "South African film Industry is over a 100 years, it has acquired incredible experience and techniques over these years but it was exclusive for whites only. When the new South Africa emerged in 1994, black people did not have representatives to fight for their stories to be told by themselves."

"Black people were not recognised as an industry, we would only do some cultural dances on the side," he said.

Kani said even though at the moment the black voices are coming together, demanding their recognition in the film industry, funding in now a great challenge. He said the private sector mostly sponsors' white production leaving all the black film makers to fight for government grants which on its own are not enough.

"Private sector in this country does not know how to spell philanthropy, especially business people; they have no sense of social responsibility. They think if they build a road to a school or give out condoms then they have done a great job," Kani told BET Africa.

Kani is also set to star alongside top international actors such as Forest Whitaker, Angela Basset and Lupito Nyong'o in a highly anticipated film titled 'Black Panther' which recently commenced filming and will be released early next year.
Thulile Gama