Earlier this year, the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) released the findings of its second Economic Impact Assessment study. It states that while the industry has made significant strides to secure its place in the global market, it remains one of the most untransformed industries in the country, and previously disadvantaged individuals are still not well represented within the film and TV sector.
Originally from Venda, Limpopo, Mukwevho says she has always been passionate about the industry, but there was a lack of opportunities and information in her hometown. In 2015, she moved to Johannesburg to open a casting agency that represents South Africans from all backgrounds.
Breaking through barriers
Mukwevho admits that she faced some challenges in the start-up phase of the business.
“As a new agency, it was challenging to convince production houses that we could deliver. It was very hard to get our first break, but through hard work, patience and perseverance, we finally managed to secure a client. During this time, I learnt the value of knowing and understanding your capacity. Do not promise clients things you cannot deliver, as it damages your reputation as an agency,” she says.
The company grew through word-of-mouth and today, it has a database of over 600 Venda, Sepedi, Xitsonga, Setswana, Sesotho, IsiZulu, IsiXhosa and English artists between the ages of five and 70. It supplies actors, background extras and voice over artists to long-running shows such as Generations, Muvhango, Skeem Saam and Gold Diggers. The company also hosts monthly acting workshops to better equip and educate its artists.
While the industry has made great strides, Mukwevho says that in terms of gender and race representation, there is still much to be done.
“I feel like people of colour are expected to work two times harder because they don’t get the same rates as their white counterparts. I think the industry needs to have a strong regulating body to monitor such issues. It’s crucial that our local productions reflect the diversity of our country.”
Looking ahead, she plans to secure as many commercial gigs as possible and eventually supply actors and background artists for international movies.
What advice does she have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “In the words of Lupita Nyongo ‘our dreams are valid’. Do not ever allow anyone to tell you that your dream is too big, be ambitious and work hard till you get what you want.”