Why do celebs feel bullied by #OpenUpTheIndustry or is it greed?

'If Rihanna can be a singer, actress and model.. why can't South African celebs do the same' - Lerato Kganyago asked tweeps.

31 January 2019 - 08:00
Lerato Kganyago believes that aspiring young people need to earn their stripes.
Lerato Kganyago believes that aspiring young people need to earn their stripes.
Image: Instagram/Lerato Kganyago

Here's the thing: As an artist as long as you are just an employee, the hypothetical doors of the industry that are being spoken about are not yours to open.

With #OpenUpTheIndustry social media users are talking to the people with the real power to make decisions and the money to employ… like on a big scale. And that isn’t you... at least not yet.

The way I see it, most of the celebrities that spoke out against the hashtag really should have taken Nonhle Thema’s advice and taken several seats because nobody was actually fighting them.

With the exception being the Twitter trolls whose sole purpose is to bully people, I think I speak for most people when I say the #OpenUpTheIndustry conversation has been really misunderstood.

This is not the first time the conversation has been reignited since 2016 but we've been going in circles. Many celebs have shared their views on it, including Boity, Lerato Kganyago, Thembisa Mdoda and Pearl Thusi.

For the past two days, #OpenUpTheIndustry has been trending on Twitter. Many people have come forward to say they're tired of seeing and hearing the same celebs on TV and radio - and at live events as MCs. They are calling on the entertainment industry to give opportunities to fresh talent.

Honestly though, the first issue here is that the fight is with the wrong people. #OpenTheIndustry really isn’t a fight between acting extras and the lead actor.

Talent looking to enter the industry, talent that is hot property in the industry at the moment and talent that is, unfortunately being phased out should be working together instead of against each other.

Because the fight is bigger than all of them combined.

The entertainment industry is a tricky space to exist in because it doesn’t have an exact timeline or a set structure that everyone follows. The nature of the industry allows a person with natural talent to flourish just as well as a qualified artist at varying rates.

This is part of the problem because then it takes people a while to figure out who is the real deal and even longer for them to get the kind of chances and money they deserve.

Having had the chance to hear many “come up” stories of Mzansi celebs, I know for a fact that some have fought damn hard to get the recognition and jobs they now have. This makes it totally understandable for them to want to fight for their space when it looks like they are being "threatened".

Perhaps then one of the things we need to clear out since we are here…  is the mentality that South African celebrities have that people who aspire to be like them are “jealous” of them.

You can’t say you live to inspire and then get touched when your inspiration creates people that are potentially going to replace you and/or do better than you. Pick a struggle already.

Some of these celebs have allowed their egos to make them think they are the only people who deserve what they have. Nobody said you don’t deserve your fame and your fortune. Just because they also wish to have them doesn’t mean they want to take yours away. Okay? Cool.

How do celebs expect the up-and-coming people to pay their dues if they are not willing to help create space for them?

Back to the main point, the real fight is ownership.

The real opening of the hypothetical industry doors will only happen when the right people change their mindset. The industry needs a reboot. New people at the helm. In fact, it would open much faster if Meneer Somebody didn’t own half of the content black people create.

The doors would swing open if government made sure the proper legislation was in place to ensure artists would get what they deserve. More doors would open if people who fought their way into the industry felt secure enough in their talent and in their projects/work to bring in others.

So if artists want to really talk about opening up the industry, they should evaluate if they are being greedy or if they are insecure? And if they are at least doing their part?

Once they figure that part out, then we can all take the fight to the right people who hold the keys to the doors.