Why are there no coloured role models on TV?


I really hate the way that coloured people are portrayed on tv and in media. Let me begin by explaining a little bit.

Over the years I have become quite the avid soapie watcher. Other than 7deLaan I think most South African soaps are close enough to what life is actually like down South. Except for the coloured people on tv- it seems like they’re going through the biggest identity crisis of all because of the colour of their skin. Being coloured in South African tv-terms leaves you slap bang in the middle like the wors in a hot dog, except one side of the bun is black with the other white. I mean you only have to look at someone like our current and much beloved Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille for a slightly off (luke-warm & moist) representation of mocha skin on local tv. Also coloured, when she was given the chance to reach out to youth about the dangers to drugs, she chose to put together a video where she rapped. About drugs. Rapped.

This is not the only occasion of questionable representation of coloured people in media. One just has to look over to one of the country’s most beloved soaps Isidingo. A bad guy (read: coloured guy) was introduced as the mining town’s Facebook rapist/Facepage rapist (they for some reason can’t call it Facebook in Isidingo-land). Long story short this guy did bad stuff and caused a scandal where another coloured dude, a barman in the local hotel (because he couldn’t be a lawyer or artist) was wrongly implicated and chucked in soapie jail. So, not only was the real rapist a coloured guy from PE but also the one that was falsely accused of the crime. Because I mean, it couldn’t have been one of the other guys.

Something that I’ve also noticed quite often on TV and in media is the way that coloured people sound. I’m not expecting a guy who’s supposed to be a gangster from Hanover Park to speak like he was Mary Poppins or anything. If that is how people talk then they should be represented like that. I am however quite sure that there is a big group of people who speak normally and don’t think it’s a good idea to remove their front teeth so they can give good head or whatever- I’ve never said naaiers or poes in an interview before and don’t ever plan to.

Sure some of it is self-perpetuated. Colour TV, which did a very short stint on SABC 2 featured what should have been a banging mix of coloured acting talent. Instead it just turned out to be stereotyped beyond belief with the likes of Clint Brink, Kim Cloete, Terence Bridgett acting more “gam” than that 23 year old cycling past on that kid’s bike in silk boxers (worn as pants).

Is it too much to ask that the next big role in a series or movie produced in South Africa that goes to some caramel goodness is one where the guy or girl speaks normally, isn’t a former or current criminal and has all their front teeth? Let’s stop giving Kuli Roberts a reason to refer to coloured people as “toothless, fish-eating troublemakers who drink beer until they fall over”– I mean come on… we’re only like that on Fridays.

Im a guy with a very particular view of life... im not quite sure what that view is just yet, but when I find out I'll be sure to let you know...

Comments 12

    1. I’m a little tired of being lumped together under one big banner of “aweh, jy!”- nice one Gerald

  1. This is true, the negative stereotypes are so lazy. I’m a coloured female and proud. I live the example of the change I want to see in our community. I’m originally from Mitchells Plain and this often surprises people. I swear, I get a kick out of it every time I say it, and watch their expressions in response.

  2. When Neville from 7de Laan was invited to act in the soapie he accepted on the condition that he play a dignified character and one that didn’t answer to what the stereotype requires. I hope that more actors will start doing that. I remember in varsity I was always cast as the maid or the waitress or the tree, until a foreign director came and cast me in his play as the leading lady. Anyway… on another note… why’s there still such a thing as BET awards??

    1. Getting typecasted really sucks. As far as I know the BET Awards still exist- saw Clayton Morar doing some updates from there just this morning.

  3. finally, some one brave enough to speak out and eloquently at that. you won’t believe how many times i’ve been asked whether i’m a foreigner just because i speak well. it’s exhausting having to explain my heritage or why i speak the way i do. well done to shedding some light on this still sensitive issue ricky!

    1. Thanks for the support… I think you’re well aware of what I’m on about. Yes, you can speak normally if you are coloured- its not THAT shocking.

  4. I totally agree. I too have had to explain why I speak the way I do when I’m coloured. So what if I’m originally from Mitchell”s Plain. The company I worked from sent me to JHB a while back. When I got there, someone I was dealing with telephonically asked why my dialect is not like a Capie’s….so I told him that I don’t have to sound like where I come from. My environment does not have to become me. I chose to be better. Some stereotype are kind of true…but not all for the reasons people think. Immerse yourself into the coloured culture everywhere before you have an opinion about us. Just like you get souties and boere or different tribes, you will find that there are different types of coloureds. I have been told that I keep myself upper class…whatever that means. Just saying.

    1. I think you’ve raised a couple of good points there- especially the last one about “keeping yourself upper class”. If you speak normally and not with an accent there is a portion of coloured peeps that consider you to be uppity. I really dont get it!

  5. Wow i cannot even express how much i agree with SO much in this article and the comments!!
    I wondered if I was maybe too harsh on ColourTV when NOBODY in my family understood my complaints. It was seen as removed from them and funny, therefore ok.
    Also, I know a lot of Coloureds who say “I’m not really Coloured because I’m not like THAT”, which just tells me that the stereotypes in media even convince Coloured people about what being “Coloured” means.
    What needs to be understood is that our background determines who we are and which of the MANY diverse types of Coloured’s we would fall under.
    @Landi Groenewald, I’m an actress who does not want to perpetuate the stereotype, however, I’m always told we need to build our reputations like “Neville” before we may try to make conditions (there are VERY few opportunities for coloureds as is) -I am trying though, because the stereotypes make me sick.

    ps: Ricky, I am working on a project and would like to maybe quote you, would you be comfortable and could I have your real full-name please?

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