The Fergusons, Vatiswa Ndara and the money - what you need to know

09 October 2019 - 06:59 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Vatiswa Ndara wrote an open letter to arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa in which she detailed alleged "bullying and exploitation" of actors, and made reference to alleged conditions in a contract offered to her by Ferguson Films.
Vatiswa Ndara wrote an open letter to arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa in which she detailed alleged "bullying and exploitation" of actors, and made reference to alleged conditions in a contract offered to her by Ferguson Films.
Image: Gallo Images / Frennie Shivambu

Veteran actor Vatiswa Ndara on Monday shared an open letter which she wrote to sport, arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa about what she alleged was the exploitation of actors.

In the letter, Vatiswa made reference to an offer she was made by Ferguson Films, a company run and owned by seasoned actors Shona and Connie Ferguson.

Here's what you need to know:

Grievances in the letter

From bullying and intimidation to unpleasant working conditions, the six-page letter detailed a litany of grievances. Vatiswa said a lot needs to be changed as simple privileges such as family and sick leave are ones that actors still do not enjoy.

She accused producers of subjecting actors to long working hours and prioritising profits over the wellfare of the cast and crew members.

"Actors want to be remunerated fairly. No-one wants to work towards poverty, which is the norm in this industry. When shows rake in profits, actors do not benefit from this. Actors further don't benefit from shows on repeat, even though they should receive royalties."

Money matters 

Vatiswa quoted an e-mail which contained an offer made by the Fergusons for the third season of Igazi. She was offered R110,000 before 25% tax for five weeks of shooting. The offer also states that Vatiswa is expected to set aside a day for make-up and wardrobe testing, which is excluded from the five weeks of shooting.

Vatiswa lamented that this amount is only a portion of what she should be getting considering the success of the show's previous two seasons.

"Initially I was going for a cool million, minister, then dropped it to R700,000."

She said both these proposals were rejected.

Fergusons threaten legal action

Brendan de Kooker, the lawyer for Connie and Shona Ferguson of Ferguson Films, would not be drawn into giving much detail on their plan of action but confirmed to TshisaLIVE that they are considering their legal options against Vatiswa.

"We are considering legal action against the author of the letter and we are not going to answer any further questions at this time."

Public support 

Scores of people have since weighed in on the contents of the letter, with more actors including Pearl Thusi, Florence Masebe and Talitha Ndima opening up about the struggles they too have had to endure.

Tweets with the hashtag #IstandWithVatiswa also went viral as Mzansi rallied behind the actor for speaking out.

Actress Vatiswa Ndara has written a six-page open letter to arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa which was shared on Twitter on October 8 2019. The letter alleged that Connie and Shona Ferguson's company, Ferguson Films, mistreated actors. After it was released, Twitter expressed solidarity with the actress, under the hashtag #IStandWithVatiswa.


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