Harare – Zimbabwean actors have been increasingly featuring in South African productions, this time taking up more than supporting roles.
This surge in placements has not been coincidental.
Becky Casting Agency has in the past few years helped Zimbabwean actors get screen time in South Africa on productions like DiepCity as well as commercials.
Some viewers may have noticed how recent episodes of DiepCity have included use of the Shona language, Zimbabwe’s main tongue, in conversations.
That is the work of Becky Casting Agency who got Zimbabwean Chrispen Nyathi to play the role of Pastor Charleston on the production.
In an interview with The Southern Times Arts, the agency’s PR manager Mthabisi Tshuma said, “We have assisted dozens of Zimbabwean actors, and of notable among them is Chrispen Nyathi who plays the role of Pastor Charleston on Mzansi Magic’s Dipecity; as well as Madam Boss, Lorraine Guyo, Sandra Ndebele, Madlela Skhobokhobo, Nigel The Slick Pastor, Calvin Madula and Ngonidzashe Chikowore, among others.
“The determination and hardwork of most of the actors and actresses under our agency has set them out as better than their counterparts.”
Although the company works with actors from many SADC countries – including Botswana, eSwathini and Lesotho – it has a special connection with Zimbabwe because its founder, Bekezela Dube, has her roots in that country.
Now the agency wants to go beyond placements and venture into full productions of its own.
“The Zimbabwean film industry has been in a hush for a while and we are currently engaging both South African and Zimbabwean producers on how best we can come out with a fully-fledged successful production.
“We are in talks with Ster-Kinekor so that once such productions come out, the market is already there as the ultimate goal is to give a life changing moment for our talented artistes,” said Tshuma.
Speaking to The Southern Times Arts, Chrispen Nyathi – who has been described by critics as the next big thing on South African television – reflected on his growth since venturing into a new market.
“I have had to adjust from being an actor that knows a couple of Zimbabwean languages to an actor that knows Zulu in order to blend it,” said Nyathi.
He has had to use indigenous languages in DiepCity, something that has earned the show high reviews.
“Ndebele was one thing, but having to speak Shona was a leap of faith and it was a suggestion I wasn’t going to say no to as it came from Mduduzi Mabaso, who is a great in the game so clearly he had ideas,” said Nyathi.
Nyathi called for concerted efforts to create a functional regional creative space.