The life of any artist involves the fight to attain growth, improve your art and ensure that every day you are moving closer to attaining the realisation of your most prized dream.
Some toil, day-in and day-out but that big payday remains far and elusive. The script is, however, proving to be different for Malawian actress and model Chantelle Phiri who has just signed for one of South Africa’s top management agents, Jaffit Management.
“In countries where the film industry is more advanced like the case with South Africa, whenever a client has a role whether it is in the soapies, adverts, magazine shoots and movies, he approaches casting agencies who do the auditions on their behalf.
“An individual does not deal directly with clients. Even when you go for auditions, they do not ask about your name, but the agency that you are representing. So, the starting point for anyone to get a role here is to get signed up by an agency,” she said from her base in South Africa.
The firm, owned by David Meyer, boasts of other top talents under its wing such as Mapaseka Nyokong who stars as Dintle Nyathi in the popular soapie Scandal, Luthuli Dlamini, Thembi Thsabalala, Millicent Mashile and Nomaledi Funani, among others.
Reads its website: “We manage a handful of artists, allowing us time to focus on each artist’s unique needs. We recruit and profile dedicated, vibrant and hard-working individuals who have unfaltering passion for arts. We ensure that they flourish our guidance,”
Chantelle has been rewarded for her portrayal in Shemu Joyah’s latest movie The Road To Sunrise where she is one of the lead characters, starring as Watipa.
Chantelle told Chill from her base in Sandton: “When I came here I knew it would not be easy. I contacted actor Eugene Khumbanyiwa who is also signed here. He gave me the names of all top agents here and the job of marketing myself begun.”
After sending her CV to the very first agent, Chantelle was offered a contract by Jaffit Management.
The actress was not given time to acclimatise to her new terrain. Even before officially putting pen to paper last Friday she has been hoping from one audition to the next with hopes of landing her maiden role in Mzanzi.
“That is the life here. We keep going from one audition to the next in the process you learn something new about your craft. Even David Genaro from Rhythm City still goes for auditions,” said Chantelle.
She said with many clients targeting the Pan African market, she feels her opportunities to make it have increased.
From a little girl who grew up in Nchalo in the southern district of Chikwawa with a remote dream of gracing the big screen one day, now Chantelle is facing a real prospect of living her dream.
“When I was five years old I was given a role to play Mary during Christmas. Since then I knew this is what I wanted to do. Every story is different. I want to be that inspiration to many. Acting is not easy, but with determination, discipline and hard work, I will do it,” she said.
The 27-year-old actress paid special tribute to the support and encouragement she gets from fiancée Lawi and Joyah who she said have always believed in her potential.
Khumbanyiwa, known for his role in the Oscar-nominated Sci-fi Hollywood movie District 9, said her being signed will open unlimited opportunities for her, but said she should also be ready to endure rejections and keep going.
“It shows she presented herself well. She has got the looks, the persona, charisma, qualifications and experience. She connects with the camera. The agent saw her application and booked her an audition right away before even meeting her in person. That is the impact she had on him.
“She sold her story well. She used what she has to her advantage. So ,I guess presentation is key. Sell yourself. Why should they sign you? What value are you going to bring to the agency?” said Khumbanyiwa in an emailed response.
He said her signing simply means her international acting career has started.
“She must keep working on her craft, keep horning it. Attend acting workshops to familiarise herself with the South African industry,” he said. n