I don’t claim to be a writer or a poet, so this will be short. I have a
few things to say, and I’d like to start off by saying that I came to
AFDA a complete introvert. I couldn’t talk to people, it took me a
while to make friends, and now after four years of experiencing
that termly adrenaline and anxiety before production course
presentations and the dreaded VALA, I can now speak to a room
full of people with only a little swat on my palms. So thank you
We’re all here tonight because of excellence, perseverance and
achievement, and I feel so empowered- but it’s mostly because I
look like batman. But seriously, we’re here this evening as
filmmakers, actors, artists, storytellers, academics, and creatives.
We’re here to acknowledge our skills and knowledge, to end one
chapter that we all shared together, and to start a thousand new
exciting ones. There is a world of possibilities ahead, and by now I
hope you know the power of your capabilities. We have the ability
and responsibility to be the mirror in our society, to shine a light on
untold stories, or even harsh truths. We start conversations,
expand horizons, and at the same time, we are dreamers.
So I’d like to salute all my fellow graduates in this room. Because
you made the leap of faith. You made the choice to join the arts,
knowing the risks, knowing the rewards, the anxiety, the
satisfaction, the insomnia, but most of all- the passion within
yourselves. So I’d like to quote Frieda Kahlo to you, and say- “You
deserve the best, the very best, because you are one of the few
people in this lousy world who are honest to themselves, and that
is the only thing that really counts.”
If I could say one thing about myself, it would be that I am
extremly privileged in my support structure of my family, who
undoubtedly kept me afloat when I felt my ship was sinking. And
there were plenty times. So to our parents, our families, our
support structures, I thank you on behalf of all of us for keeping us
sane, keeping us fed, and giving us your support.
Like my family does, keep feeding your sons’ or daughter’s hunger
for education, and push them to keep learning and keep achieving.
Because, to learn a skill, to be able to better yourself, to challenge
what you see and hear, to make informed decisions, to change the
way you see the world- it’s all you need to make a difference. And
it’s important to me that each one of you in this room seize every
opportunity that comes your way. I can preach about how
incredibly privileged we are to be here all day, but I won’t.
It was my grandmother who taught me, when I was a child, to treat
a book with respect. I, and I’m sure many others here, come from
a background where, for my grandmothers, education wasn’t an
option. Those women, though, in a world and time that was against
them, they flourished, and they became fierce. I knew never to
take my education for granted, and I knew I wanted to be and be
around such women when I grew up.
On that note, to all the women here, the producers, editors, vfx
artists, cinematographers, and all you women of colour eager to
break those glass ceilings, it’s difficult, it comes with the type of
baggage we know others will not experience or understand. But
don’t stop trying. As my favourite authoress, Phillipa Gregory said,
“You have to choose the best, every day, without
compromise…guided by your own virtue and highest ambition”.
To my class, and to my teachers, this will be the fifth year that we
know each other. Our year had a lot of ups and downs- we were
the first to walk the hallways at AFDA Durban, the first to graduate. We’ll
never forget Mr Green and Mrs Van Eeden constantly showing us
the way, and assuring us that our seriously cringe-worthy first year
films were good, or Mr Strydom and Tomaselli staying overnight
with us in post-production to make sure we had films to show. My
favourite memories, though, was when we all camped at campus
for weeks during post production because we only had 4
computers, and we were all broke as hell, but we still fed each
other pizza and coffee from the garage, and went a little crazy too.
But as the Mad Hatter says, all the best people are crazy.
To Mrs Janet Van Eeden, we thank you for letting us cry in your
office. Thank you for heading a sensational first Honours year in
Durban. It means everything that you care about us so much. You
are literally our pillar of strength, and a woman to be in awe of.
And finally to my class, I can confirm we are veterans of AFDA,
and we can take anything the world throws at us, because we
have done so already. You are the most talented, passionate,
woke individuals I have come across, and without a doubt, you will
make waves and change the world.