South African Interviews

Tamika Interviews Siv Ngesi


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My next interview is with an actor who can proudly say he has many talents and he’s not afraid to enjoy them, to share them and to use them to spread happiness and positivity to many in South Africa. He’s certainly making a difference, one laugh at a time. You can catch him right now on the big screen starring opposite Rob Van Vuuren in the new South African Comedy, “Copposites“.

In his career to date as an actor, comedian and MC, he’s rubbed shoulders with Morgan Freeman, he’s starred opposite Kiefer Sutherland, he’s performed for Nelson Mandela and he’s toured Asia with “Les Misérables” (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!).

Having appeared in numerous well-known films, TV series and commercials, including as a lead role in SABC’s Khululeka and Mnet’s League of Glory, he also travels around the country as an MC for corporate and private events as well as for motivational speaking. His award-winning one-man comedy show, Dekaf, took the Golden Ovation Award for “Best Comedy” at the 2010 Grahamstown National Arts Festival and has been touring sold-out shows ever since. His latest comedy show, Racecard, has just finished a run at the acclaimed Baxter Theatre in Cape Town.

It received praised reviews admiring the dynamic performer who was named by Mail & Guardian to be among the “Top 200 Young South Africans” in 2011. Among the admirers was Hellen Zille herself, who even tweeted about the show after she watched!

Siv and I caught up at Royale Eatery where we began our interview over one of their delicious burgers!

Tamika: Where are you from originally?

Siv: Cape Town. I was born in Gugulethu, I then moved to Langa and eventually to Pinelands when I was nine. I grew up there and I moved out a few years ago.

Tamika: Where did you go to school?

Siv: Pinelands High.

Tamika: What did you do after school?

Siv: I worked at Kayos Casting for a while and did a lot of work behind the camera – writing briefs, answering phones, working in studio etc. I then traveled around America for a year and a half doing odd jobs. I traveled to New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington and many more places.

Tamika: What kind of training did you do for acting?

Siv: I have no training.

Tamika: What would you say it is that you do primarily?

Siv: I am an actor. Comedy is my waitressing job. I do comedy because it reaches many people, it pays well and it’s instant gratification.

Tamika: Name some films you’ve done that were memorable for you. When were they, what what were they about and what was your role?

Siv: I would have to say Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom was an unforgettable experience for me. It shot this year in Cape Town and Johannesburg. It’s a film about Mandela’s life. I play his lead bodyguard. Then there’s Strikeback, which came to shoot in South Africa for its third season of ten episodes. It’s an American Action | Drama | Thriller TV series about the actions of “Section 20”, a secretive unit of the British Secret Intelligence Service. A team of spies conduct several high risk missions throughout the globe. I play a Zimbabwean CIA agent. That was definitely memorable one for me.

Tamika: What did you enjoy most about playing opposite Kiefer Sutherland and Jon Voight in the movie version of 24?

Siv: I really enjoyed the professionalism of the set. It’s an international production and they give you the respect and freedom on set to do what you want with your character. They believe that “if we cast you, you’re good enough.”

Tamika: Have you done any commercials? Name some of the best ones! 🙂

Siv: Yes I’ve done a lot. Probably the one that stands out is the one I shot for Castle Lite last year. They flew us to London to shoot.

Tamika: How was being on the set of Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman?

Siv: Unbelievable. I didn’t get the bigger roles that I initially auditioned for on account of me simply being too young, but I didn’t care. Just being there, getting that experience and being on a set like that was so so worth it!

Tamika: And how was being on the set of Copposites, out now at Nu Metro?

Siv: Rob and I get along very well, he’s a good friend of mine. As cliché as it sounds, it was a really good time! It was an ego-less set, which is key when you have two strong personalities together on set.

Tamika: You do a great deal of MC work. What jobs stand out for you?

Siv: I do a lot of corporates which stand out. I’m doing a job for Cyril Ramaphosa for his birthday which is coming up. I’ll be doing comedy and MC’ing at that. I’ve done a job recently for The Nelson Mandela Foundation which was fantastic and was a highlight for me. I did comedy and motivational speaking at that. And then a cool one I got a few months ago was for Kulula Airlines. I was actually MC’ing on an aeroplane in the sky! It was to mark the launch of a new plane.

Tamika: You performed for Nelson Mandela at his birthday party in 1996 when you were ten! What did you do exactly, who were you with and what was it like?

Siv: It was awesome! I was touring with Les Misérables at the time and he requested to see me when I was back in South Africa. I wrote a song for him which I sang with my sister 🙂

Tamika: I understand you’re also invited to be a guest speaker at schools? How is that for you; what message do you give to the kids?

Siv: I love doing it. I prefer doing it to comedy. If I could drop comedy I would. I’ve been to schools all over the country; I’ve done Kingswood College in Grahamstown, Rondebosch Boys’ here in Cape Town and many township schools, to name a few. I believe that there’s no point having a talent if you don’t share it. I share life lessons I’ve learnt with the students.

Tamika: You’ve been praised in the New York Post and you’ve even been talked about on the Conan O’Brien Show! What did you think when you heard that?

Siv: I was excited. Conan had watched 24 and he enjoyed my performance.

Tamika: Have you won any awards?

Siv: I won “Best Newcomer” in Les Misérables. I won “Best Comedy Show” at The Grahamstown National Arts Festival and I’ve won a few comedy awards.

Tamika: What is the most recent job you’ve done.

Siv: I just shot a movie as part of the 48-Hour Film Project Competition.

It invites filmmakers from around the world to produce a complete short movie in just two days.

– http://www.48hourfilm.com/

The film will be screened at The Labia Theatre here in Cape Town on November 11th. It’s called Beacon of Hope and it’s about a man who spends his whole life in a lighthouse. He sees a girl one day on the rocks and falls in love with her.

Tamika: What’s in the pipeline for you at the moment?

Siv: I’m doing a national tour of my comedy show Racecard. And then I will be doing a one-man play which Mike van Graan is writing for me. In the meantime I am waiting to hear back from films that I recently auditioned for. There is also a television show I will be shooting next year in the pipeline, but I can’t say any more about that.

Tamika: Who is your agent?

Siv: Samantha Bernhardi in Cape Town and Moonyeenn Lee in Johannesburg.

Tamika: Do you also model.

Siv: No. I would rather die.

Tamika: What are your favourite South African films?

Siv: Otello Burning, e’Lollipop and Skoonheid. 

Tamika: Where do you party?

Siv: I don’t party. I’ve outgrown that. If it’s an event, I’ll go.

Tamika: What’s in the boot of your car right now?

Siv: Posters, flyers, banners, squash rackets, clothing – it’s packed!

Tamika: Do you have siblings?

Siv: Yes, two older sisters and a foster brother.

Tamika: What does your family do?

Siv: My dad passed away when I was young and my mom is a retired school principal. She is now a professional member of the Siv fan club!

Tamika: Haha! And tell me, what is your health routine like?

Siv: I hate gyming. I do it when I need do, that goes for dieting too. I will do them when I have a shoot coming up. For instance, I’m shooting the Marie Claire nude edition in a few weeks.

Tamika: Where do you see yourself in ten years from now?

Siv: Creating a lot of work for myself and others. I want to carry on doing what I love. I want to be the most successful actor South Africa has ever seen. I would have stopped comedy by then. And I would have bought my mom a house and a car.

Tamika: What’s one interesting thing about you that your followers don’t know?

Siv: I’m quite a social loner. I love being with myself as much as I love being with other people.

Tamika: Name a place you love.

Siv: My bedroom.

Tamika: Do you do any charity work?

Siv: Yes. I have a Foundation called Siv Gives Back. I sponsor kids, I donate stuff to the Red Cross Hospital. I also donate my work as charity – 20% of my time is charity. I do a lot of free comedy, MC’ing and acting  (fundraisers, certain events, student film projects and so on) – my philosophy is “why have a talent if you can’t share it?” And one day I’ll change the world.

Tamika: What do you tell yourself when you walk out of an audition?

Siv: “Forget about it.” And also; “If they don’t give you the job then it’s their mistake.”

If you want to follow him on Twitter, he goes by @iamSivN

You can also check him out on Facebook on his official Facebook Page.

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