BY Mandi ‘Poefficient’ Vundla |
“I’m a Kasi girl who grew up in the suburbs.”
A product of both Alexandra and Lombardy-East. Samkelo says: ‘Art is like sexuality, it’s not a decision one makes, it just happens to you.’
When did art begin to happen to you?
At a time when I was very young. I’ve probably been singing and telling stories since I learned how to speak. Art was a natural progression for me, as soon as I completed my schooling i had my mother’s support. She didn’t advise me to study for something that had nothing to do with me. When I said I wanted to go to film school she saw to my high varsity fees. She never made me feel like I was a disappointment for choosing the arts.
Do you remember your first audition?
Yes…It was for Zone 14. I remember feeling nervous and insecure because all these T.V personalities who were there were given special treatment. There was an actress who was given a separate room to center herself while we were all squashed on the floor because there were so many of us.
How does Acting aid your humanity?
I don’t know if it adds value to my humanity, but it does confirm that I’m a weirdo. I’m always watching human beings and I wonder what it would be like to be them. I used to go ‘People Watching’ at the Mall, Clinic and at the Police Station. Going People Watching is a weird thing because it sound like you’re going to the Zoo. Those excursions and growing up in the colourful textured place that is Alexandra fueled
the actress in me. I carried all those girls that I watched in me. Anytime I needed to channel a particular girl for a certain role, I could access her because i had watched her.
Spiritually, Acting can be taxing, but it’s incredibly centering. There’s a totem that we all use as actors to get In and out of character. My mother and my nephew’s voices are my totem. When I hear my mother call my name, I come back and Lerato gets gone. The spirituality in that is so centering, it’s like I’m watching myself travel and come back, there’s something gratifying and special In knowing that i have the ability to do that.
Is there anything you would change about your journey?
No. Physically, Mentally and Artistically, I’ve always been strategically present in how I want to be seen and that’s why for the past nine years, I’ve never been without work. I’ve never made it about myself in the art, I’ve made it about the art in me and that’s why I believe people respect me. I’ve never been an ‘it’ girl. In the nine years that I’ve been working, I’ve always said that I don’t want any magazine shoot or interview to be about the sexualization of my female body. I’m so liberated now because I know that I’m taken seriously as an actress. When I die tomorrow and somebody asks, who is that? The answer will always be the actress. Not the girl with the breasts and dreadlocks. My strategy has always been to lie low. The media may misuse my name to sell their papers but the people who love me and the ones who employ me respect me.
Tell us about the script you’re writing?
It’s a beautiful thing to know that you have more than one medium of expression. The script is about a girl. I don’t want to describe her because she is so layered, like the rest of us, so we’re not sure who to cast for the role. The plan is to make the movie, I’m not selling the script because I’m a director and I will obsess about how the story is told. I am that director who will be known for making female led stories, I know nothing about men. They confuse me every day. So I’ll write about women because I am a woman and I was raised by them.
Note to aspiring female actors
Educate yourself, pick up a book if you cannot afford education. Download scripts online and rehearse them at home. There is nothing sexier than a woman who knows what she’s doing. Do not down play your womaness. Push the professionalism and be bad a** with your talent.When you’re an actor, you’re a vessel and you need to be emptied out to be filled by another character.