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AN INTERVIEW WITH STEPHINA ZWANE AND SALAMINA MOSESE, THE FEMALE MEDIA POWERHOUSES BEHIND ‘BABYMAMAS’

Meet Stephina Awane, with 18 years experience in the TV industry, Stephanie has also worked as a TV Producer and Director for various shows for the major broadcasters in South Africa. She is the co-owner of Sorele Media. She directed her debut feature film, Love and Kwaito in 2016 and most recently, wrote and directed, the comedy-drama Baby Mamas (2018).

Meet Salamina Mosese, with 20 years experience in the TV industry, Salaminea first graced our screens 20 years ago, as the fresh-faced youngster we saw on the popular edutainment drama series, Soul Buddyz, it seemed she was destined to be a household name. Following this, she became known for presenting on Craze on ETV, and later as Keketso on ETV soapie, Backstage.

SCHICK chats with the female media duo on their new movie ‘Baby Mamas’, wearing different caps: actor, writer, director, and producer, and telling unique African stories to the world, enjoy!

Q: What inspired you both to get into film?

We love film and the power of the film medium to not only influence views and opinions but also to educate and entertain. And as we spent more time in the media industry, it became increasingly important for us to start telling our own stories, especially stories that we ourselves would like to watch.

Q: Congratulations on the premiere of the ‘Baby Mamas’ movie! How important was this to you, personally, and to your careers? How did it move from concept to reality?

This has been 3 years in the making. It is an important milestone for us because it is our biggest film project yet. We first applied for the funding to make Baby Mamas in 2015, but were unsuccessful, then later tried again, and the second time our application was successful. To have gotten to the point where we are is a dream come true.

Q: What was your inspiration behind the story?

The everyday single Mom, trying to make ends meet, raising a child, supporting her friends and trying to figure out life and love, these are the women that this story is for. We are inspired by the tenacity, bravery and beauty of these women that we see in our own personal lives, as well as in and amongst on the daily.

Q: How was it like premiering your film at the Toronto Black Film Festival,  the Durban International Film Festival and even the Lights Camera Africa Film Festival?

Whenever you get the opportunity to show your work to audiences that are not familiar with who you are, it is daunting. But we have been pleasantly surprised by how well received this film has been. These film festivals coming before the SA release of the film, have been great for getting the brand’s name out there and for has whet people’s appetite for the film at home.

Q: You both seem passionate about telling unique African stories. Why is that so?

We are living in a time where the world seems to have woken up to the reality of the beauty and power of Africa, Africans and African stories. It is a fantastic time to build on this momentum and truly grow our industries.

Q: What was it like working with each other?

We have known each other for over 20 years, we work well together, we understand each other’s rhythms and strengths and weaknesses. This formula has served us well thus far. We have been in business going on 4 years, and we have plans to diversify even further as a business, and possibly even work in other countries.

Q: You both wear different caps: actor, writer, director, and producer. Is one of these roles your favourite? Why?

The producing thing is still new to me (Salamina) and I am still getting into the role and what it entails. Stephina has directed for TV and making the transition to film directing has been an exciting one. We have both been on screen as actors and presenters, making the transition from child stars, to adult performers, and then now entrepreneurs has been a welcome change. We have been looking for a new challenge and each time we try something new we are stretched even further.

Q: What are some of the projects that you are most proud to have been a part of?

Our first foray into business saw us launching a VOD platform called AzaTV. Following this, we did our first feature film, called Love and Kwaito. This film revolves around the lives of two orphaned siblings navigating life without their parents, while still trying to get through school.

Q: What’s the best and worst aspect of your jobs?

The best part of the work is creating new products, birthing new ideas and seeing them come to fruition. The worst part is the small business problems, the unreliable income sources and long hours.

Q: Is it important to collaborate with your colleagues? How have your professional collaborations benefited your career?

Yes, South Africa has a developed TV industry, but it is run by the broadcasters, and the producers are not yet at a point where they can own the intellectual property that they come up with. This means that commissions are the only way to get productions on TV. This is limiting in the long run in the sense that it is not a sustainable way to run a business. The film industry is still a developing industry, where very few filmmakers are able to make hit films that break the bank and box office records. We are still developing audiences that are willing to pay money to watch films while they are on the circuit.

Q: Where do you both hope to be in your career, a decade from now?

A decade from now we hope to have won awards as Directors and Producers and to have our content flighting on international platforms and channels.

Q: What has been your personal key to success?

We pray, we research, we ask for help, we read books and network and meet with those who have come before us, who can advise and create opportunities.

Q: Who were the biggest inspirations for your career?

Ava Duvernay, Oprah Winfrey, Shonda Rhimes, Mo Abudu, Biola Alabi, Khanyi Dlomo, Felicia Mabuza-Suttle and Tyler Perry. We admire all of them because they are pioneers, trendsetters, captains of their industries and black excellence personified.

Q: What is the best advice you can give to a young writer?

(Stephina) take time to read a lot and when you finally start just keep writing. Even if you don’t know what you are writing or where it will eventually end up going, don’t give up on what you are writing or on your ideas.

Q: Do you have future events you want to mention?

Not at this stage.

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