‘We need to be fed up with the status quo’ – Standard Bank Young Artist winner Chuma Sopotela

Performing artist and Standard Bank Young Artist awards 2018 winner Chuma Sopotela is breaking boundaries in the theatre and performing arts spaces with her evocative work. The Cape Town-based actor — who is known for starring in films like Zulu and Stillborn and theatre productions like Karoo Moose, Ityala Lamawele and Neo Muyanga’s ‘Memory of how it feels’ 2011– says she is inspired by renowned actors like Omphile Molusi and John Kani.

Chuma talks to us about the importance of bravery, winning this coveted accolade and life-changing art.

Neo Muyanga’s ‘Memory of how it feels’ 2011


What play would you ever say changed your life?
Karoo Moose by playwright and director Lara Foot, and Lara herself. I did my best at school and at varsity but one needs that golden opportunity to show what you are capable of and Lara gave me that chance, and I’m forever grateful.

Tell us a little bit more about your acting methods?
I’m a trained actor and I believe in performance and in education.These two things have driven me to want to investigate the acting practice and to possibly to introduce my own acting form in the future.

Borut Bucinel

What role do you think the arts can play to change the current state in our country?
We have to be brave, some say that we are not angry enough and I think they are right. Until we all are tired of the inequalities in this country we won’t all be happy. I think the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ in this country is ridiculous and until those who have realised the need to share their wealth we won’t succeed. This will not be easy because it is not easy to give up something you think you deserved even if you know its the right thing to do. This conflict might push the ‘have-nots’ to react, to take action because people are poor and poverty has no patience or pity. Its been too long.

Lara Foot’s  Karoo Moose

What has been you favorite character to play/performance thus far?
I’m currently involved in amazing works. One is directed by Mamela Nyamza and it’s called Rock to the Core. I love it because it speaks to what I just mentioned. We need to be fed up with the status quo. It talks about the inequalities in our work spaces, the ordeal that women especially black women have to endure.

I am also a co-creator of a performance piece called Let’s talk about Sex. This show speaks to all matters relating to sex, including violence. I co-created it with Ahmad Tobasi — my friend and colleague from Palestine.

What are your future plans?
My plans are to work even harder, to connect people, to make them laugh more than cry. To speak the truth even louder. I hope my work can be seen in many theaters next year. The collaborations I’ve done are travelling and I look forward to the new work; I think its gonna be great.

How did you feel when you heard that you won the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for performing arts?
I was extremely happy. I was even happier for my child who will grow up knowing that her mother was a Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner in 2017.

The winners of the 2018 Standard Bank Young Artist Award( National Arts Festival)

Between 10 and 5