The 2017 SAFTAs are using the theme of ‘SA has got it, let’s celebrate it’ and one thing they are celebrating is acting talent. In this golden age of television, South Africa has just as much acting talent on display as other parts of the world. Here is a look at some of this extraordinary talent in the race for Best Actor – TV Drama.
Trevor Gumbi – Sober Companion
Trevor Gumbi is a stand-up comedian best known for his work as a co-host of Mzansi Magic entertainment magazine show Headline from 2010 to 2013. He remains active as an outspoken and sometimes controversial comedian. He also writes for a few publications, does voiceover work, and maintains an active presence on social media. The role Gumbi that he plays in Sober Companion—a man coaching addicts on the way to recovery who struggles with his own sobriety—hits close to home. A recovering addict himself, Gumbi describes the show as “my life laid bare, for your viewing pleasure.” The personal connection is likely what makes Gumbi’s portrayal of the character who shares his name so convincing.
Neels van Jaarsveld – Bloedbroers
Neels van Jaarsveld is an actor and musician who grew up mostly in Johannesburg. He is mostly known for his work playing Dr. Gideon Basson on the Afrikaans language soap Binnelanders. His nomination for Bloedbroers showcases a different side to his talents. Bloedbroers is a period piece that takes place during the tumultuous years of 1914 to 1948 and shows a part of South African history not often seen. The show was created with the goal of a high cinematic quality, on par with shows from other parts of the world such as Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones. As Willem Pretorius, van Jaarsveld helps bring the cinematic intensity to life.
Jerry Mofokeng – Heist
Jerry Mofokeng is a seasoned stage and film actor. He grew up in Soweto before studying acting at Columbia University on a Fulbright Scholarship where he ultimately received a master’s degree in theatre directing. He is best known for his roles in the films Lord of War, Tsotsi, Safe House, and Cry The Beloved Country. In Heist, Mofokeng plays Talent, a stadium grass cutter who recruits a team to help him carry out a major heist. If Mofokeng were to snag the Golden Horn at this year’s SAFTAs, it wouldn’t be his first. He picked up Best Supporting Actor wins in 2006 and 2007 and he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for Acting at the 2013 SAFTAs. Mofokeng has also been heavily involved in the judging process for the SAFTAs in the past, serving on the judging panel more than once and acting as judging chairperson in 2015.
All three men put in captivating performances and any of them could win, though Mofokeng might have the edge just because he is so critically acclaimed and beloved. Be sure to tune in to the SAFTAs on March 16th to see who wins.