Mkosi believes that her love for film and television emanated from her love for creativity. “I sometimes find that I might not be that creative myself, but being surrounded by creatives, and experiencing excellent creativity and the passion that goes into it is something that I find fulfilment in,” she says.
An admitted high-court attorney, Mkosi took her passion for media forward by studying and practising entertainment law. It was at this point that she found a balance between her interests in law and the media.
Her portfolio at the time was quite broad, covering everything from music to book publishing, until she was granted the opportunity to work with the Industrial Development Corporation when it was developing its film unit.
“My passion for film wasn’t one moment for me, but rather happened by progression in terms of what I was exposed to and the opportunities that were presented to me,” she explains.
Social development is close to Mkosi’s heart. She previously worked as the executive producer for Heartlines, a television series that dealt with social issues in South Africa. As executive producer, she was at the forefront of a media strategy that stretched across both broadcast and print platforms, while at the same time driving production of all content.
Earlier in her career, Hollywood Reporter named her a Young Leader in Media in Africa, which was a huge confidence booster. “Carrying this title gave me the conviction that I was on the right track, that following my passion was going to bear the fruit that would enable me to have an impact on my society,” she says.
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“Amidst everything I do, I am passionate about impact,” she adds. “How is one person of success impacting your nation, your community, your family? For me it’s not just personal success, and this is the reason that I’ve always worked in the developmental sector.”
Mkosi envisions a sustainable and diverse film industry because she believes that these two factors are important in attracting new talent, granting access and allowing participation to broad and diverse representatives of our communities.
For the film and television industry in South Africa to continue its growth, Mkosi firmly believes that all stakeholders need to play their part in creating opportunity.
“It’s never going to be a Zama Mkosi personal thing. Collaboration is going to be at the centre if this vision is to become a reality.
“It is when opportunities are created that we can say we are doing our part to give everyone a chance to access the industry. There’s a lot of talent out there, but what is lacking is access to opportunities. I am committed to driving the creation of opportunities, whether it’s at the level of NFVF bursaries, or giving first-time graduates the chance to make short films, which will open many more doors for them,” she says.
Mkosi also envisions enabling women filmmakers who have always worked in television to get into creating theatrical feature films.
The NFVF commissioned Deloitte to conduct a study into the appetites of local audiences. The study revealed that South African audiences are hungry to see their stories being told on big screens with African authenticity. For this reason, a challenge was thrown out to the African film industry to start making films that resonate with its audiences.
Although the industry faces many challenges, Mkosi is confident that the local film and television industry will soar to great heights once again if everyone pulls their weight.
“The film industry is already fully-supported by government. It has put its money behind its commitment to make the film industry successful. But if this is going to be successful, we need to collaborate with all stakeholders to find ways to not be so reliant on government resources. The Deloite study helps to build a case study for the private sector.
“We need to make our industry attractive and speak the language of money. We can’t speak the language of creativity alone. The private sector will stand up and pay attention to the fact that we are not only about creativity, but also about economic growth. The more money going around for the sector, the more the talent will be recognised. We need to value our talent and we do this by paying and treating them well,” she says.
Mkosi is delighted about the success of local films such as Happiness is a Four-Letter Word, that has broken many box office records. She looks forward to many more local films and shows doing well in SA, in Africa and worldwide.