SA actors attack Hollywood casting of Mandelas

Leading actors in South Africa have spoken out against Hollywood stars cherrypicking the best roles in films about their country. Members of the Creative Workers’ Union (CWU) of South Africa said the United States actor and singer Jennifer Hudson should be prevented from playing Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in a forthcoming biopic. They also criticised the casting of Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela in Invictus.

Oupa Lebogo, general secretary of the CWU, said of Hudson’s casting, announced last month: “This decision must be reversed, it must be stopped now.
If the matter doesn’t come up for discussion, we will push for a moratorium to be placed on the film being cast in South Africa. We are being undermined, there is no respect at all.”

Production of the film, directed by a South African, Darrell Roodt, is to begin in May in Johannesburg, Cape Town and the Transkei and on Robben Island. Lebogo said: “We can’t allow this to happen. We have people who can play the role far better than Jennifer.”

Florence Masebe, an actor, said the issue was far bigger than “Winnie and Jennifer”. She told a press conference: “Why do Americans and foreigners play the roles we hold so dear? The roles of people we respect. I don’t think [anyone but a South African] can even begin to understand what we mean when we say Winnie is the mother of the nation. The industry doesn’t take us seriously, producers don’t take us seriously. At what point are we going to see that this is so wrong?”

The award-winning actor John Kani said Freeman had asked him how he felt about an African-African playing the former president. He said he understood the economics but lamented the fact that “I wasn’t even asked”. -

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