Story telling has always had the power to gather around the fire while films have been gathering people in cinemas since Charlie Chaplin. But when the film industry of other countries was taking shape, African filmmakers were only just beginning to explore the world of film.
Becoming a Hollywood star is a dream come true for many actors and actresses around the world and African talent has been obtaining space in multi-billion dollar films there. Some of the African talent who debuted in international film include renowned comedian and The Daily Show host Trevor Noah, the South African who graced the cast of Black Panther. His voice character roles as Griot has a share in maintaining the film on international screens for over a year now. Veteran South African actor, John Kani, who played Boseman’s father in Black Panther, was also one of the many who made it to the big screens.
Connie Temweka Gabisile Chiume, who is a South African of Malawian descent, is known for her best roles in the films Black Panther and Black Is King. When Beyoncé film Black is King debuted, she featured nine other African talents, among them the much-celebrated celebrities Folajomi Akinmurele, Connie Chiume, Nyaniso Ntsikelelo Dzedze, Nandi Madida, Warren Masemola, Sibusiso Mbeje and Fumi Odede.
Not the first talent to be exported by Botswana, Tebogo Gaetsewe, popularly known by her stage name of “Debbie with a T,’ is definitely making big moves and recently announced her debut on the popular musical, The Lion King.
The 32-year old auditioned in Cape Town in 2019 where she secured herself a role in the world’s most renowned filmmakers, Disney, for The Lion King in France. The talented Motswana woman will be a backing vocalist and an understudy for the role of Rafiki for a year.
Debbie studied for her degree in Dramatic Arts at Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria. She stated that this is a huge opportunity and she did not see herself taking part in it because it is such huge international production.
When bidding her farewell, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, said she would be a true ambassador when she gets to France. He added that the government was committed to ensuring the success of the creative sector in Botswana as demonstrated by the establishment of the National Arts Council.
Minister Rakgare described that Debbie with a T was an inspiration for other artists with big dreams. He noted that the creative sector could employ a lot of youth who will in turn take care of themselves and their families.
Rakgare urged various organisations to help nurture talents in the creative industry and follow the government’s efforts by providing the necessary resources. Debbie has already left for France and is expected to be there for a year with the possibility of an extension.
About The Lion King
The Lion King tells the story of Simba (Swahili for lion), a young lion who is to succeed his father, Mufasa, as King of the Pride Lands. However, after Simba’s paternal uncle Scar murders Mufasa, Simba is manipulated into thinking he was responsible and flees into exile.Years later, he returns as a young lion to reclaim his throne.