Part 2: Conversation With Connie Ferguson
This is Part 2 of the Interview with Connie Ferguson.
Phathu Makwarela: What do you think of the Connie brand?
Connie Ferguson: Well I think me as a brand, I have become very valuable. It’s time I start working on my own personal wealth for my family. And exploring my value a bit more. When you are working on a show this big, yes, you are the lead but you tend to get lost, if you know what I mean. With all due respect to other actors, I have been doing this for a very long time, my value is worth more than gold. Its platinum mine and I need to go mine that platinum.
PM: Have you been made acting offers already?
CF: You have no idea. But I am taking a break. If people want me on projects, they can talk to me mid next year. For now, I am setting up offices. I want a fully-fledged office by the time I starting acting again. I need to know that I have the right people with me, a great team and I can delegate. I can’t do that when I am here…. (Since leaving Generations Connie has done a couple of projects, will soon shoot a movie and I hear she is on Ambush – haven’t watched it)
PM: Do you think that the acting offers that are coming your way are from people who want to capitalize on the Connie brand?
CF: Yes, I think they do and there is nothing wrong with that. I have worked hard to build and develop my brand. I am known way beyond Generations brand. Yes, Generations is the biggest brand I have ever worked on, but I am also a big part of that brand. I started with the brand being nothing and grew with it; I am very grateful for that. It does not matter that wherever I go, people will still call me Karabo- Karabo has been in their lives for so many years. She belongs to them. Generations is a pop culture…
PM: Do you remember a time when you were not famous?
CF: (laughs) yes. When I started out, I was not famous. In 1989, tjoo – actually I have been famous for a very long time. I think my fame….that thing. The launch of CCV, they gave us so much publicity. I was presetting and then Mamepe.
PM: You left Mamepe when they told you that you have to take an exclusive contract with Generations.
CF: Gosh, you have been following this for a very long time. Yes, I had to take an exclusive contract with Generations. But before then, CCV was no longer CCV, it was Simunye. I worked as presenter there, and Mamepe was on 2. I was also doing Soul City and Generations, all at the same time. It was only when Generations became a daily that they wanted us to take an exclusive contract. I also saw it as an opportunity to lessen the workload, and spend more time with my family….
PM: And how has the family taken all this, the fame? Your kids have a famous mom…
CF: (she laughs) but I had Lesedi when I was not famous. I was just starting to get known… Lesedi my poor child. Then I was freelancing heavily. I went back to work when she was seven days old. I will get the odd presenting gig, I will take her to set…I could not even afford to pay someone to look after her.
PM: Coz the pay was bad.
CF: It was terrible. I was making ends meet; I had to do with what I had. Also at the time, you just could not afford to have one gig; you had to have multiple productions that you were working on. I think that is how I survived…actually I think that I how I got famous, because I was everywhere.
PM: And you were doing Sheen ads.
CF: Yes, I was doing sheen ads. And people started complaining about over exposure. And I thought what, this is me working, trying to put bread on the table and pay rent. You need the exposure to become a brand.
PM: So where were you staying when you started?
CF: I was staying in Emndeni in Soweto with my aunt. And then two years later, I thought I knew Joburg, so I got my own backroom in Meadowlands. Later Neo and I got together, we got married and had Lesedi. Then I moved to Elands park, which is now a proper house. It has been a slow process, but twenty-three years later, it has all been worth it.
PM: What is it going to feel like to wake up and not having to respond to a call sheet?
CF: Oh my gosh, I am going to love it. You know what I am going to love. Not getting to call and find out what time am I working tomorrow. You know what this situation does, it controls your time. You are always working around someone’s schedule. So for me, I am going to enjoy that everything is going to be working around my time for the first time in years.
PM: You have shot the wedding scenes…how was it?
CF: Yeah. Those are her final scenes on screen. They felt like the final scenes. It was as if they had written my speech. It felt like I was saying goodbye, the emotions were real…I caught Sonia’s eye. I caught Siyabonga’s eye. It felt like I was saying goodbye to my friends…I looked at Sophie and I was like, this is me saying goodbye. I do not know what they are going to do when I shoot the final scene, because what we usually do is that when you have shot your final scene, everyone is called into the studio. They thank you, you thank them. Whoever cries cries…I hear they have a farewell planned for me…and I do not want to think much about it. I am sensitive person, whatever happens on that day, will happen. I think it will be a sad day for many reasons and also a good day because I know they wish me well. It is a new chapter of my life that I heading to and I am excited. I left Lobatse when I was 18, came to Johannesburg, where people spoke languages that I have never heard of. So it’s an almost familiar feeling about leaving this show.
PM: It is a coming of age:
CF: Yes, I am coming of age. I did it when I was 18, and now I am doing it at 40. It’s amazing, you have no idea. There are great things out there; I think generally as people we have a fear of the unknown. Loyalty is a good thing, but I don’t think you should be stuck at a place just because you are afraid, when you have bigger dreams than where you are at. If you can dream beyond where you are, you must allow yourself to grow.
PM: Will you ever come back?
CF: Well you know they didn’t kill the character. As an actor when you give up a role, you want it to gone. You want the viewers to mourn; it would have been cool if they had killed her. You want people to know that person is dead.
PM: I think killing Karabo would have been bad for the show. It could backfire.
CF: I think they thought about it too. With the character still alive, there is always hope that the character can come back. However, I do not think I will come back, not in the foreseeable future. However, I never say never. I love this show.
PM: My final question. Karabo belongs to the many viewers Generations, and by default so does Connie. What is your farewell speech to the viewers?
CF: ( gets emotional) Oh gosh. To all Karabo fans, Generations viewers. You know I have travelled the country and abroad. Generations is known across the board to a level, which you can’t even comprehend. The love that I have been shown by people. I would like to say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for the love and for respecting me as an individual. South Africans are full of love and I want to acknowledge that they might not know it, but I have received that love. It’s their love that has allowed me to do what I have done for so long. Thank you for the blessings.
PM: Thank you. Now you almost had me in tears.
CF: You are such a softie. Thank you, it was fun.
And so the conversation ended.
By Phathu Makwarela ©