Do local soapies reflect real South African life?

Locally produced television soap operas do extremely well commercially - but do they adequately reflect South Africa's reality?

To help answer this questions renowned actors, Jack Devnarain, Hlomla Dandala and actress Dawn Thandeka King chatted to Eusebius McKaiser.

Dandala explains that in the late 90s and early 2000s, South African soapies had a precise mandate to be aspirational and portray a life that black people didn't have.

SABC1 soapie, Generations was an example of such a show, he says. It aimed to show an aspirational life versus a series such as 'Isidingo' that opted to take a different more reflective route.

I grew up watching Generations and Isidingo and thinking I want to be on Isidingo because it resonated with me so much.

Dawn Thandeka King, Actress

King says she's only been a part of the acting industry for five years and adds that she mostly watched soapies she aspired to be a part of. She is best known for her starring role as Lindiwe Xulu, the wife of self-made gangster Muzi Xulu, in the SABC1 telenovela Uzalo.

One thing I've come to learn is that audiences don't understand their power. When audiences demand more Tsonga, I guarantee you that more Tsonga will appear because these soapies are in the business of trying to please the audience.

Hlomla Dandala, Actor

Devnarain says it is always going to be a challenge to tell stories that are authentic while trying to please every single audience member.

Take a listen to the rest of the interview in the clip below:


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