Whether it is on stage or on screen, Didintle Khunou has fast made an impact in the South African acting industry with the roles that she has chosen to play. From ‘Janet Weisz’ in The Rocky Horror Show and ‘Celie’ in The Colour Purple to now ‘Esther’ in BET’s first African original telenovela, Isono coming soon to African screen.
During this women’s month, the actress – in her own words – celebrates five women in the arts that have been iconic in her life as an actress and an artist. Seen on Didintle’s Instagram and Twitter pages, the homage to these creatives is deeply personal but a necessary public declaration of the calibre of talented women South Africa possesses.
Koleka Putuma is an award-winning poet, playwright and theatre director. Best known for her best-selling collection of poems, Collective Amnesia published in 2017.
What makes her iconic to me is that her work has been prescribed for study in tertiary institutions in South Africa and in Sweden at the Gothenburg University.
She explores subjugated historical memory and puts it in dialogue with dominant narratives of history. Koleka challenges our understanding and notions of the past and present.
Sylvaine Strike is a multi-award-winning screen and stage actor, director, theatre-maker and she owns her own company, Fortune Cookie Theatre Company. What makes her iconic to me is her deep understanding of movement-based theatre and theatre through gestural impact. The biggest lesson I’ve learned from Sylvaine in acting is to be comfortable with moments of stillness. It really changed my approach to acting.
Lynelle Kenned is an award-winning and trained soprano opera singer, presenter and musical theatre leading lady. What makes her iconic and worth celebrating is her phenomenal talent as a musical theatre performer and singer. Her award-winning performance in West Side Story will always mark her in my mind as iconic.
A veteran screen and theatre actress, a teacher and a performance coach, Camilla Waldman’s work with actor-training and coaching has developed from her own process as a multi-disciplinary performer and actor.
The biggest thing I’ve learned from Camilla is that story sparks connection. As human beings, we are automatically drawn to stories because we see ourselves reflected in them. She teaches me why my role as an actor is important in society and why we storytellers are valuable and needed. Mankind needs art and it needs stories because we all inevitably interpret the meaning in stories to understand ourselves better, on an individual and collective scale. She is a great mentor and a great source of refuge to me.
Sindi Dlathu is a SAFTA-winning veteran screen actress. Her role as Thandaza on Muvhango made her a household name but it is her powerful performance as the ruthless businesswoman, Lindiwe Dikana, on the award-winning telenovela The River that makes her iconic.
What I’ve learned from Sindi Dlathu is that in this industry, it really pays off to be a passionate, hard-working actor grounded in humility. She is the kind of star that lets the work do the talking. I admire how she has managed to keep her personal life private, despite the fact that she has been in the limelight for many years. We know and respect her for her tenacious and phenomenal work as an actress and I find that truly admirable.