Tag Archives: interracial

Free State of Mind: Andrew Govender Discusses Acting, Tradition, and Religion

Free-State-Updated-PosterThis is the third and final installment of “Free State of Mind”, a series of Q&As with the cast and crew of a South African film currently making the rounds at film festivals. You can read my review here, find out more about its creation from producer Terwadkar Rajiv here, and get some insight on how co-lead Nicola Breytenbach’s prepared for her role here.

Today’s interview is with Andrew Govender, who plays Ravi, the other half of the couple at Free State‘s core. Another former model like his co-star, he began his career at just sixteen-years-old. Being crowned Mr. South Africa in 2012 is only one of his many achievements, which include creating the Andrew Govender Book Club with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and being involved in various awareness campaigns.

Given that their characters share a few interesting parallels Govender answers a number of the same questions that Breytenbach did, with a few that are unique to Ravi himself.


An arranged marriage is the biggest barrier that Ravi faces in his relationship with Jeanette. How would you say he views that tradition and what it means for his future?

I think he respects it and accepts it. He was brought up in a traditional Indian family and those are Indian traditions. However, when he gets to meet his arranged wife he realises that he doesn’t have much in common with her. That’s when he meets Jeanette and falls madly in love. He knows that he shouldn’t be pursuing a relationship with her because it’s illegal during that time for inter-racial relationships. However, he can’t help himself and that results in detrimental consequences.

ravisister

Ravi makes it clear that he’s concerned about his sister’s safety, but what does he ultimately think about what his family does under cover of darkness?

He understands that they are doing it for a greater cause and he respects that. However, he does care deeply for them and doesn’t want anything to happen to them when they go on these missions. He’s close to his family and wants to protect them.

From what I can tell this is your first role in a feature film. How was that experience, especially with it being a South African production instead of a big Hollywood movie?

It was an incredible experience. I got the opportunity to work with some really talented South African actors. I learnt a lot by being on set and having these actors mentor me throughout the filming process.

Our director Sallas de Jager was also really supportive and helped me to give the best performance I could. Even though this was a South African film, the production standards on the movie were really high. That can be attested to with all the international awards that the movie has won. I really hope that I will have the opportunity to work on more films both in South Africa and Hollywood. Acting is really something that I enjoy immensely.

How much did you know about South Africa’s Immorality Acts before signing on to this film?

Not a lot. I grew up post Apartheid, so most of what I knew was from what I heard, not what I could have experienced. It was quite eyeopening to learn more about that time in South Africa’s history and how Indian people were treated. I gathered as much information as I could from my parents about their experiences during that time. I also was really fortunate that my acting teacher had been in an inter-racial relationship and she was able to help me understand my character better.

meditation

Religion plays a large part in Free State for both Ravi and Jeanette’s families. Did you come from a religious background, and did this have any affect on how you played the role?

Yes, I did. I grew up in a conservative traditional Indian family so religion was important to us. My character was also brought up with the same core values and so religion would have been important to him too. There’s a scene in the movie where my character meditates and also seeks relationship advice from a guru. So we are aware that he relies on religion to guide him in the choices that he makes.

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Free State of Mind: Actress Nicola Breytenbach on Getting in Character

Free-State-Updated-PosterThis is the second installment of “Free State of Mind”, a series of Q&As with the cast and crew of a South African film currently making the rounds at film festivals. You can read my review here, and find out more about its creation from producer Terwadkar Rajiv here.

Today’s interview is with Nicola Breytenbach, who plays Jeanette, one of the two romantic leads. While she has spent the past several years as a successful model, with her career taking her to runways across the world, Free State marks the beginning of her acting career. Just last month The Blue Mauritius began filming in Montreal, with the US and German co-production being her second ever silver screen role.


Jeanette is first introduced returning home to her father after finishing law school. While it isn’t heavily covered in the film, what kind of impact do you think that education had on how she views life, especially after she meets with Ravi [co-lead and love interest]? 

As Jeanette went to Wits University, which was a more liberal university than many others, it would have changed the way she viewed and felt about apartheid and the immorality act. She pursued higher education as it was instilled upon her by Maria and her father, but her true desire was to be a wife and mother.

Jeanette was raised in the very small remote town of Memel and even though it was a Christian white community it was very sheltered, and as she says in the beginning of the film that’s why she was a real ‘political innocent’. She wasn’t exposed to the reality of it much, except for a few remote incidents which completely shocked her. As her mother also passed away at such a young age and her father had a difficult time reaching out to her because of his grief, she was raised almost solely by Maria who is black South African Zulu.

Hence when she met Ravi, she didn’t think about his race and it didn’t deter her from seeing a friendly man who went out of his way to help her in this traumatic incident of a near accident. She only saw his compassion and how selflessly he had helped her. As time goes on, they both come to the realize the severity of the situation they are in, as well as the fact that they are engaged to others, but at this point it is too late, they have already fallen in love. Continue reading

Free State of Mind: Behind the Scenes with Producer Terwadkar Rajiv

Free-State-Updated-PosterLast month I was offered the amazing opportunity to watch a screener of Free State, and published my review at the beginning of this one. Set in mid-70s South Africa the film revolves around an interracial relationship that would have been illegal due to anti-miscegenation laws of that time.

In addition to that I was also able to interview members of the cast and crew via email, with consequent installments of “Free State of Mind” being released in the following days. Up first is a Q&A with Terwadkar Rajiv, who produced the film alongside Piet De Jager and Sallas De Jager.


When many people think of South Africa and racism their minds immediately go to Nelson Mandela and apartheid. What do you think their reaction will be to Free State, which focuses on relations between White people and South Asians, instead of Black people?

Apartheid was one of the dark patches of South Africa, no doubt about that! When South Africa got independence and Nelson Mandela became the President most of the people were thinking – what will be the future of South Africa? Will whites be kicked out of the country? The way things happened clearly shows that all ethnic groups started living towards one nation, South Africa!

Although there are stories during Apartheid where Indians and blacks were tortured, beaten up or even killed by the Police or Army; some whites used to treat Indians & Blacks respectfully! There are so many stories from Apartheid which prove that inter-racial relationships and friendships existed before 1994.

­Free State is a film which focuses on the relationship between Jeanette (Afrikaans White Girl) and Ravi (Handsome Indian man). This also beautifully shows the motherly relationship between Zulu maid Maria and Jeanette, who she raised as her own daughter, ­­making it truly cross cultural and crossing ethnic boundaries. Continue reading

Running the Race on The Bachelor

It’s been a quite a few years since the summer I spent watching Jillian Harris do her level best to find the perfect man on Season 5 of The Bachelorette. Fast forward to the beginning of 2016 and I find myself in the same position, this time with 27-year-old Hoosier heartthrob Ben Higgins. A number of things have changed in those seven years, like the price of bitcoin and the existence of this blog, while others haven’t, like my relationship status [single], ABC’s continued broadcasting of the search for love, and The Bachelor and The Bachelorette‘s respective track records with race.

Is Race on The Bachelor/Bachelorette Really an Issue?

Luckily for me, I’m not nearly the first person to cover this topic. Of particular note is Karen X. Cheng’s “Minorities on The Bachelor: When do they get eliminated?”, which lists the contestants who were racial minorities on both shows and, as the title suggests, exactly what week they did not receive a rose. Worth keeping in mind is that as of 2014 The Bachelor was in its 18th season, and The Bachelorette in its 10th.

Minorities On The Bachelor and The Bachelorette

Check out more specific, well-designed graphs by heading over to the article itself.

Cheng noted that there appeared to be a drastic spike after 2012, during which there was a class action lawsuit leveled against the series regarding “the deliberate exclusion of people of color from the roles of the Bachelor and Bachelorette underscores the significant barriers that people of color continue to face in media and the broader marketplace.” While the lawsuit was later dismissed she posits that the sheer amount of negative press the show garnered is what resulted in the network scrambling to make a change so quickly. Continue reading

Christopher Zeischegg [aka Danny Wylde] on Art, Horror, Racism, and, of course, Porn

wyldefisherEarlier this month LA-based artist Luka Fisher reached out to me through the site’s email, calling my attention to an art project that may be the first of its kind. Christopher Zeischegg, more commonly known online as porn star Danny Wylde “On The Moral Imperative To Commodify Sexual Suffering“. Accompanying the short story was a silkscreen print created by Fisher, which was in turn featured in a high-concept art commercial directed by Matthew Kaundart. Through this correspondence I was given the wonderful opportunity to discuss the story with Zeischegg, as well as pick his brain on a number of other topics.

Before proceeding onto the interview I would strongly encourage you to read his story, or at least watch the video, which I’ve embedded below. I would also like to warn you that both are decidedly not safe for work before proceeding.


So before we really get into things, Luka Fisher, the artist who emailed me and who collaborated with you on the release of your short story, described you as a “BuzzFeed sensation”. Would you say you live up to that title?

[laughs] Well, I would say I don’t live up to that title. I mean, Luka is a friend of mine and he’s an artist producer in LA. I think more than anything he was just trying to get press and attention for this thing we did; trying to get keywords. As far as being a “Buzzfeed sensation”, I’ve been in a few videos about porn stars, et cetera.

I didn’t participate in that press release. I would not call myself one.

I also noticed that in their [Buzzfeed’s] feature they describe you as a “porn star”, whereas most places I could find state that you’re no longer an active part of the industry. I was wondering if you could clear that up for both me and my readers.

I retired actually about two years ago from mainstream porn. Though I have been submitting videos to Make Love Not Porn. I also do some other sex work that I’m not going into for legality issues. I retired two years ago. But, y’know, stuff is out there forever on the internet, so people kind of associate that with you.

So the reason for this interview even existing is because of your short story, “On The Moral Imperative To Commodify Sexual Suffering” [which I’ve asked my readers to check out first], which of course presented alongside a piece of static visual art-

Some Such _Fisher1

-as well as a short film. On top of all that you’re also one half of a Chiildren, a metal band, so I think it probably goes without saying that you’re by most definitions an artist-

Yeah, I guess so, I would agree to that.

before we really dive into the story I thought it would be cool to hear your thoughts on pornography as art.

Well, in general I don’t think it is. I can say that there are some examples of people who are doing art within porn, and I guess one of them is even my current employer, or one of them, James Deen. I work for him a lot in production and last year we did some higher end art films [7 Sins, we made a porn version but there’s also a cut-down version going around].

But my interest in porn did not really participate in art, especially in the beginning. It was just something to get through school. And then continued doing that for some years after. Because it pays better in retail, you know what I mean.

I don’t think typically it is, though. It’s just entertainment to jerk off to. That’s what most porn is. I don’t have anything more to say about it. We’re not doing anything important with it, there’s no real higher cause. We’re just making stuff so people can jerk off to it.

Which I guess you could call art. It’s a nuanced conversation. It’s entertainment. Continue reading

The Post-Racial America (That We Don’t Live In)

Well, I woke up this morning, flipped on my laptop, and had this image waiting there to greet me.

Django Unchained Actress Accosted by LAPD After Kissing White Husband

For ****’s sake, people.

Alright, lets get to it. Continue reading

Fame Day: The One-State Solution

This was originally going to be my topic for Monday, but I decided to put this discussion off for a few days and showcase it here. Our “Fame Days”, after all, aren’t just about celebrating achievements but include shining the spotlight on noble issues or events we believe should have more attention, and I’d be hard-pressed to think of any idea more deserving than the “One-State Solution”.

Chances are that you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, and that’s fine. Normally I rail against what I’d consider self-imposed ignorance when it comes to politics or foreign affairs, but this is a really, really obscure concept (heck, that’s the entire reason we’re talking about it today).

When we’re talking about either the “one-state” or (more common) “two-state” solutions, we’re referencing the debate over the future of Israel and the Palestinian territories. Pretty much every so-called “road map” to “peace in the Middle East” revolves around settling the question of the borders of Israel and what would eventually become the state of Palestine. Who gets what land, access to which resources, authority over which sites- you get the idea.

Continue reading