A Conversation With Connie Ferguson
In August, Just Curious was afforded the opportunity to have a sit down with Mrs Connie Ferguson a few days before shooting her final Generations scenes. This was the first time I was going to be able to have a sit down with Connie, honestly – I hardly slept the night before. My greatest fear was that, what if she was not all I thought she was what if she is a diva, difficult or just not in the mood.
What I found was a humble woman, someone you can easily warm up to, that rare star quality which only a select few are blessed with. On close up, she looks refreshingly radiant and poised, an aura of elegance and simplicity lingers around her even with no make-up, there is that fragility beauty that draws you into her presence and you can’t help but humble yourself. This was supposed to be an interview, but turned out to be a conversation, it was light and simple. Here is how it unfolded.
PM: How are you?
CF: I am good, and you?
PM: I am great. Sixteen years?
CF: Gosh. Can you believe it?
PM: I can’t, I am counting and I was ten then.
CF: (laughs) you were ten? You were a baby, were you watching?
PM: Yes, I was watching…from day one.
CF: Okay, so you have been watching Generations from day one. Now it’s me interviewing you? Time flies you know. When I think about it honestly, it does not feel like such a long time ago. What that says to me is that I have been having fun. I have been working at a place where I can honestly say I have been having fun.
PM: Is this the end of an era?
CF: For the Moroka? Maybe. But Generations is a big show, Karabo or nor Karabo. Karabo was the last link of the Moroka legacy. But we have new legacies now, the Mashabas, the Dlomos. I am sure the show will go on.
PM: Are you happy with the way they have exited the character?
CF: (she laughs), do you know how they have exited the character?
PM: yes, so are you happy about it?
CF: Okay, when is this being published?
She really didn’t want to say too much. Just when I thought, we were connecting..lol
PM: 1 November, you will be off-screen by then. So you can tell me about it.
CF: Am I happy? I am very happy and I will tell you why I am happy. Karabo has always been painted as the unlucky in love. She has not been able to do is find true love. Well, according to the scriptwriters – Tau was Karabo’s true love. I think there was something about Karabo and Tau, they way they were written.
PM: It was toxic love.
CF: Yes! Why is that? Very tortured, passion goes hand in hand with passion. That is sickening, why? (She laughs, and the connection was back) If I were to pick a man for Karabo. That’s me Connie, personally, I would pick Paul, regardless of the Dineo thing?
PM: I would pick Glen?
CF: But Glen cheated on Karabo. You see you have been watching for too long, how old are you?
PM: But Glen made her happy
CF: Wena, you have been watching Generations for too long. You do have a point, Karabo and Glen had fun together. And they looked good together, and then he cheated!
PM: But so did Paul!
CF: (pause) Paul…eish
PM: Yes, and I must say. I did not buy that whole storyline of Paul cheating on Karabo. It felt forced.
CF: Oh gosh, here is what happened…the Paul and Dineo. I got ill and I had to take leave. I had to go and had an operation. I was out of the series for three months. They needed something to do with Paul, while I was away and I think that is how the Dineo thing came about. Then to try to redeem Paul when Karabo came back, they made Karabo to have had an affair while in India. I hated that, personally – I was like – No! What are you doing with this woman? I mean, when she left – she was thinking of Tau, and Angela was around. Therefore, she had emotional stuff to deal with. Then next thing she goes to India and have an affair. I was like, I don’t know this woman. I have been playing her for sixteen years, this one I do not know her now…
PM: And that’s how it felt like. Karabo cheating on Paul. She went from being Karabo to being a whore. With all the men in her lives, we forgave coz she was searching for love.
CF: Yes, and somehow they always went about it the right way. Even I forgave her, but this time – eish, I love this woman to bits, but I didn’t know who she was. There was a time I went like, how do I approach her in this story, how do I get into her headspace, because that is what you do as an actress. I couldn’t find a point of reference and half the time I didn’t believe that story. I watched the scenes, I did not agree with the story, but it created drama. Whether that is who Karabo is, I do not know – but it did create drama. But I don’t agree, I have played her for sixteen years and suddenly in her mid life, she is someone completely different.
In the PR’s office, there laminated magazines covers of Generations actors. An Ebony cover with Connie catches my.
PM: But Karabo has never aged, and so has the actress.
CF: (laughs) Okay. Is that a compliment?
PM: But it’s true. Like for real, who is your doctor? Let’s talk about that. Look at that Ebony cover, you have not aged.
Connie gets up and looks at the cover of Ebony Magazine. I swear, she doesn’t have wrinkles. At this point, we are on a roll, laughing.
CF: This is 1998
PM: Yes, and its 2010. Twelve years later, you still look the same.
CF: Oh my word. Its twelve years ago. Nothing wrong hee…it’s generic and I take pride in taking care of myself. And as cliché as it sounds, I drink a lot of water. Wa bona (shows me a bottle of water), I always have a bottle of water. Nteme cool drink, give me water. Diet wise, I wish I could say I eat lots of salads and stuff. I eat chicken a lot and fish. And I eat catered food, dombolo and stew. Stampa and mogodu. You know what tripe is, mogodu?
PM: Connie please….oh, let’s get back to the interview. Phela, you dropped the bomb, why are you leaving? It just happened out of the blue. I thought it was a joke.
CF: I dropped the bomb on myself. You see because I started with Generations, I bring a lot of familiarity to the show and when I go, the viewers feel like something has been taken away, because the pillar is gone.
PM: I can’t wait to see the ratings? Are you worried they might go down?
CF: No man, I do not wish it upon the soapie. But if it happens, I will realize that I underestimated my power.
PM: Have you underestimated your power? I mean for sixteen years, you should have seen the blessing that came with this character. You are a star.
CF: I have received all the blessings with gratitude, you have no idea. What I mean when I say I would have underestimated my power is that as a brand, Generations is very powerful. Actors have come and gone, but the show has survived.
PM: Except you, you have been here from day one…they show has not existed without you up until now.
CF: Oh, gosh. You are putting me under a lot of pressure. I do not want to have that on my conscious. If ratings go down, they will go up again. There is new talent on the show, there is no reason why people should stop watching just because Karabo is gone. I do believe I will do TV again, I have been acting since forever. I just feel that my time here is…I have done what I needed to do.
PM: Then why are you leaving? Let be honest, I do not think this is decision you went to the mountain and prayed about, and mediated before deciding your quitting.
CF: (she laughs), maybe I went to Twasa and maybe they told me and my vision told me it’s time to leave Generations and I came back and resigned.
PM: Honestly, it feels like you were fine shooting your scenes and then all of a sudden you went, I am out of here. Like something really pissed you off.
CF: (softens) Honestly, this is a decision I have been struggling with for the past two years. Generations requires a lot of your time. The reason I continued doing it for so long was that I loved what I was doing. But I have also developed other interests, outside of this. I find it difficult what I do here and what I want to do beyond here. I frustrate people trying to get meetings with me and they can’t because I am here. It was not an easy decision to make, I cried myself to sleep before I even wrote that letter. When I gave them the letter, I cried.
PM: Take me back to that day when you gave them the letter.
CF: Oh gosh…. I called the head office and asked for a meeting. They said come, so I went there. I had an A4 envelope.
PM: Was it Elsjie or Frederick
CF: Frederick. I walked into his office and he saw the envelope. His first words were, Connie do not do it. You know how my heart sank when he said that. I think he knew. I said Frederick you do not even know what is in the envelope. So we had a little tussle, he kept pushing the envelope towards me, saying he won’t take it and I was pushing it back to him.
PM: He kept saying more money?
CF: No,…he kept saying, I am not taking it. Whatever it is, let us talk. Do not do it, we can solve it. I told him that it has nothing to do with whatever. It was time to move on. And he was like what brought it up. We had another meeting, where Elsjie was there — oh the Starks, I love them. I had a first crying session with Fredrick at the first meeting. Then had another crying session with Elsjie. She made a joke, like, “are you sure my bokkie. Are you sure it’s not hormones?’
PM: Did Mfundi call you?
CF: (exhales) Well, Mfundi called and we have been trying to set up a meeting, but it has not happened yet. You know when he has time, I do not have time and when I have time, he is not available. I have not really spoken to him about it. When I resigned he was overseas, he came back three weeks later and then the World Cup, everybody was busy. I do not know what he is going to say to me, we have not had time to sit down and talk.
Phew! We’ll leave Part 1 here, check out Part 2 for the rest.
By Phathu Makwarela ©