By Norma Tsopo
HARARE – A top actor has blamed Zimbabwe’s massive brain drain in its performance arts industry on the shunning of the country’s sole television station – Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC-TV) by businesses due to want of viewers.
Nash Mphepo who also directs Patsime Edutainment said the desertion was starving the broadcaster of resources affecting the quality of productions it attracts from independent producers.
“We only have ZBC-TV to support the small screen industry but not many people are watching it that much so many companies are not advertising there anymore affecting financing of programmes that it flights,” he said.
ZBC-TV enjoys a broadcasting monopoly with the only satellite broadcasts into the country coming from South Africa.
The country’s small screen has been playing second fiddle to South Africa over the years in spite of showing promise with internationally acclaimed films like Neria, Yellow Card, Everyone’s Child, More Time, Rwendo and Shungu: The Resilience of the People among others.
“We very good. In Zimbabwe there are many talented artists but the only drawback is resources. You can see that many of our top actors are going to South Africa and doing great things and the solution to improving the quality of our television productions is to put in money and attract them back home,” Mphepo said.
Zimbabweans have starred in internationally acclaimed movies and series ranging from The Walking Dead, NCIS Los Angeles, Blood Diamond, Game of Thrones, The Young and the Restless to Supernatural and Seal Team Eight: Behind Enemy Lines among others.
Multiple award winning actress Danai Gurira starred in The Walking Dead, Tongayi Chirisa who found fame in the soap Studio 263 and South African top movie, Mr. Bones 2 is now landing roles in Hollywood as he has starred in NCIS Los Angeles, Robinson Crusoe among others while Alois Moyo, who acted in The Power of One alongside big name character portrayal artist Morgan Freeman are some of the country’s best talents.
Leroy Gopal, who landed his first role at age 7, in the TV Drama Series Paraffin, and had a big break in Yellow Card, is perhaps the most dominate character in South Africa’s small screen as he starred in soaps such as Backstage, Home Affairs, One Way, Jozi H and Jacob’s Cross with many other roles in the US.
Mphepo said while it would be unthinkable to lure back those who have broken into the big money US film industry increasing local television channels can arrest the country’s loss of talent to the region.
“While some of the actors that currently grace our television screens are not that polished but with resources we can train and perfect their art. We can also lure back some of the experienced actors to act and direct productions,” Mphepo said.