The New Celie

We had the opportunity to meet and interview Didintle Khunou, lead actress in upcoming classical musical Color Purple. She shares about her preparations for the stage drama and her journey so far in the arts and entertainment industry.

Who is Didintle – Didintle is a full blown Tswana lady from the North West. I am a young, hard working and determined person. One needs to be hard working and very determined in the creative industry. I am talented, but a-work-in-progress, rooted, observant person, who is open to learning new things. I am rooted in my purpose and I’m constantly finding ways to expand my creative outlets. What I love most about my work is that I get to mirror the human condition. I get to study, observe, understand and then create work that acts as a mirror to mankind.

I am human and I’m also a spiritual being, I have the capacity to evoke change in many facets and being a performing artist is the medium I am exploring for now.

What Pushed You to Stage – My math teacher in high school was quite artistic and she started a musical show which I became a part of. And that’s when I realized this is something I really enjoy and should invest in. It’s not just about doing it for fun; you have to put in a lot of work and self practice. I enjoy this because of the constant opportunities of self discovery that I can tap into. We often get stuck in 9-5 jobs that we don’t allow us the opportunity to understand ourselves and I love it when people say I’m going to take a year off to travel. Acting and singing is similar to taking some time off, I get to be a part of telling stories that really make a difference and allow me to tap into different facts of myself.

Tell Us about Color Purple – The auditions first started in 2016 but I didn’t go because I was busy shooting a TV series at the time and I thought it’s not meant to be. But there was another brief and a friend of mine insisted I had to go, as they were still looking for their main characters. The whole audition process was quite intense and the stakes were very high.

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It’s going to start showing in January 2018 and I’m very lucky to be given months of preparation before the actual show; as an actor you rarely get much time to delve into the research process of the character. Part of the preparation process involves seeing a singing coach, acting coach and also a voice coach. You really have to invest so much money and time to get the training so by the time the big opportunities and shows come up, you are well prepared. It’s been a process of enlightenment because I am learning a lot; I’m learning how to read music and interpret compositions.

Stage/TV/Film – Theater is not my only medium, there is Film and TV, and so I’m learning how to transition from each medium. I’m still quite young, so I grab every opportunity I get, but I think it boils down to technique and skill and which medium best works for you. How to embody energy, for example, for Theater and Film is quite different. Knowing the different details in each medium helps you to navigate. My favorite medium is Stage. In stage you have the opportunity every night to go deeper and deeper and give a more rounded performance.

The Industry So Far – I still consider myself a toddler in the industry. It’s been an interesting journey so far and I have learnt a lot and one lesson is that I never set expectations. Also, I find ways to always polish my skill set. I have also learnt to create my own content and use that as a ladder to showcase what I can do.

What Film Roles Would You Love to Play – I am very fortunate to be playing the role I have always wanted to play in Color Purple. The actual film was released in the 1980s and when I watched it as a young girl and got to hear about the musical, I got interested in playing the Celie role.

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The Next Five years – Very very far! As long as I am doing what I love and fulfilling my purpose, I will be far and where I need to be. I see every single day as an opportunity to push the limits and achieve small personal goals.

As long as you are doing what you are here on earth to do, you will be where you need to be.

Musical Career – There is an interest. I am currently training on how to use my voice. Music is about telling a story and passing a message across. My mom wants me to become a singer and have a career in music. I think I have the most supportive parents. They come from a time where there were limits for Black people to do things and so they had to work incredibly hard to establish themselves in their different sectors. They have made sure their children have access to opportunities they didn’t have and are able to flourish in whatever we want to do.

Message to Upcoming Creatives – You need to know why you are doing what you are doing. What are you doing it for? You should understand that there will be people who will support you and many others who will not. Also remember that there is no easy way to getting anything in life; there is always a price to pay. Don’t make the mistake of comparing your creative journey to someone else. Work hard, stay open to learning and then treat people with respect.

ANC/DA/EFF – I think it’s important to stay away from the politics of the different parties and congregate together to ensure the government serves the people well. Each and every party has its strengths and weaknesses. We should look for ways to initiate activities that uplift our communities.

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