Jazama nominated for coveted Sotigui

Powering ahead

29 September 2020 | Art and Entertainment

Girley Jazama; Actress and producer; “I signed up for the film without hesitating ...”

Swakopmund • [email protected]

Not only has actress and producer Girley Jazama raked in success with Baxu and the Giants (which she co-produced), it became the first Namibian film on the international streaming platform Netflix.

More still, Jazama has also been nominated as Southern African actor of the year at the coveted Sotigui Awards for her performance in The White Line.

The White Line is a Namibian film set in the apartheid era and tells the story of Sylvia, a black domestic worker, and Pieter, a white police officer, who fall in love during a regime that outlawed such love.

Jazama says that this film was not a one man show.

“The cast and crew were exceptional. We did good guys, we did real good.”

She adds that Sylvia was her way of telling a story she felt needed to be told.

“I signed up for the film without hesitating because it is part of my history and I wanted to be used as a catalyst to bring that message across. It is our responsibility as storytellers to tell those stories so that we can be and do better in the future.”

She says that from an acting perspective, being Sylvia demanded that she give her all to truly do justice to the character and her struggles during apartheid.

“I felt the pain of those that came before me. It was important for me that we authentically represent those times. It also shone a light on me as an actress and hopefully with it will bring about more collaborations in future.”

Despite her rise as a producer and actor, she tells of humble beginnings, having taught herself the art of film production after being thrown in the deep end for The White Line.

‘Remember history’

Jazama hopes that history will serve as a warning.

“It is so easy for us to forget where we come from as a nation; the sacrifices people made for us to now be free; to be free to love who you love; to be whoever you want to be. It is our responsibility to ensure that the next generation remembers this part of our history. I personally believe our history is an opportunity for us to learn from the past and to do better in the future knowing where we come from.”

Jazama says she wants to inspire others with this nomination.

“I would be so honoured to be the first Namibian female to win this award. There might be a little girl out there who also wants to act. If I do win, hopefully it will inspire someone to never give up on their dreams and that their dreams are valid,” she said.

For her, perseverance is key.

“I’ve been acting for 15 years, so nothing happens overnight. You need to put in the work to reap the benefits. You will get a lot of no’s but that shouldn’t deter you. Keep at it. Let your work speak for itself. You do not need validation from others for you to believe in yourself.”

She says winning an award is merely the cherry on top of the cake. “Personally, I am just honoured to be nominated in the same category as the other two actors. The nomination is a win for me and Namibia.”

Blind eye to critics

Due to the controversial subject matter of the movie, criticism was expected Jazama says.

“We experienced negative reactions when we were looking for funding from the private sector. Someone literally said that it is just another slave movie, another Oprah story and that is not how it was, because their parents didn't treat black people like that”.

However, she warned critics not to waste their breath.

“We didn’t listen to the naysayers and we expected to get a bit of backlash, but we were OK with it. Our story was based on research, stories our grandparents told, and stories from interracial couples during apartheid. All the negative criticism is water off a duck’s back to us. I also think it makes people uncomfortable because they are forced to look at themselves in the mirror and they have to own up to their mistakes.”

Next, please

Jazama says that she has no intention to stop looking at racial issues and wants to tackle a subject she says “is destroying the youth in Namibia” – crystal meth (colloquially known as “klip”).

“I watched it almost destroy the life of someone I love and I hope by telling this story, it will bring about healing for the individual and their family.”

She hopes those battling this type of addiction will also be able to face the demons they are trying to escape from.

“I guess that is also my way of saying that I will not give up on you, even if you give up on yourself because I love you. Film gives us an opportunity to appreciate and understand the other person’s view. You do not have to agree with it, but you should at least try to understand where the other person is coming from.”

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