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This Award-Winning Actress is Calling Out South Africa's Exploitative Film Industry

Vatiswa Ndara has made a move that may end her career to expose the exploitation in the country's film industry.

Vatiswa Ndara is a South African actress with whom most South Africans are undoubtedly familiar. She has starred in local television productions including the beloved soap opera Generations as well as other popular shows such as Tsha Tsha, Gaz'lam, Home Affairs and Society. She's also racked up a number of awards during her career including the Golden Horn Award for Best Supporting Actress in a TV Drama Series. However, the accomplished actress recently penned a heartfelt letter to the country's Arts and Culture Minister, Nathi Mthethwa, where she talks about her exploitation as an actress and that of others in the film industry. The letter has caused an uproar on social media.


Ndara, who is currently one of the lead roles in the successful local drama series iGazi, has opened up about the less-than-glamorous aspects of her job. She speaks about being paid far below what would be expected for one of the country's top-tier actresses. She also shares how iGazi's production house, Ferguson Films, has reportedly tied her down to unfair working conditions without the appropriate compensation. Read her letter here.

Many South Africans have expressed their shock and dismay that seemingly successful actors and actresses are being grossly exploited behind the scenes. Fellow actresses Florence Masebe and Rami Chuene have shown Ndara their support following her letter, with Chuene having shared a Twitter thread detailing her many challenges as an actress but how the #ShowMustGoOn. In light of Ndara's revelations, many have also questioned how other far less accomplished performers are then being treated.

While some have put Ferguson Films (which produces not only iGazi but also The Queen, The Throne and The Imposter) on blast, others have defended the production house and accused Ndara of being "ungrateful" at a time where many South Africans are unemployed and would benefit greatly from the little she feels she's being paid.

The conversation has once again come back to the issue of protecting the rights of performers. Since last year, numerous South African performers have been campaigning to have the Performers Protection Amendment Bill adopted by Parliament. South African performers have talked about how most of them don't have the rights to their own images and their distribution as well as how they don't receive any royalties from production houses or broadcasters for the repeat airing of their shows.

Shooting of the third season of iGazi has stopped with Connie and Shona Ferguson of Ferguson Films having claimed to be in the process of taking legal action against Ndara.

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(Photo by Emma McIntyre/BAFTA LA/Getty Images for BAFTA LA)

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