Stephina Zwane is a South African filmmaker who was born in Soweto and grew up in the middle of Johannesburg in the inner city. She is a filmmaker determined to tell stories from her heart that either push boundaries, inform and educate or provide a different perspective on how Africa is perceived.
As a storyteller, she is constantly trying to find new opportunities and new ways to honour the characters on script pages. She has worked as a producer, writer and director for various TV channels in South Africa, including SABC, e-TV and Mzansi Magic.
She has one of her films on Netflix and hopes to engage with more platforms in the future. Zwane is a well-rounded filmmaker, working on various projects in South Africa.
- Tell us a bit about yourself and what your job entails on a daily basis.
I am Stephina Zwane, I work as a Writer-Director for my own production company, Sorele Media, that I co-own with my business partner, Salamina Mosese. I also work as a freelance director on commercials, drama series and films.
- How did your journey in the industry begin?
I first joined the industry as a TV Presenter on a kids TV show, Craz-e on e-TV. I was still in high school at them time in 2000. I haven’t looked back since.
- What are some of your career highlights?
I have enjoyed every step of the journey until now. From being in front of the camera for the very first time, to working as an actress on popular dramas and soapies. Then working behind the scenes as a writer and director and then starting our own company seven years ago and making all the content and films over the years. Each step has been a great milestone and has not only taught me bits about myself I never knew I had, but has also solidified my love for what I do.
- What projects are you currently working on?
I am about to start on our next feature film, which I am super excited about. It’s a co-production with another company, which will also allow us to grow as a company, learning from others. It’s a female-led story that is inspired from a book.
- What and who inspires you?
I am inspired by many people, but usually people who have some sort of talent and decide to commit to it and see how far they can go with it, while growing and learning each step of the way. Whether that talent is playing football, or drawing or acting, it inspires me to see all the possibilities that unfold when you lean into your strength and talents.
- What do you think FAME Week Africa can offer the Pan-African Market?
The Pan African market offers a wide range of possibilities. Fame Week Africa allows for Africa as a whole to assemble in one spot for a few days and run an audit of how far we’ve come, where we are and where we are headed to as storytellers working on the continent. It provides a space for us to also commune with one another, to network and form lasting bonds that might later produce films and series together. It offers the opportunity for us to unify in one place and map out our future while looking at all that’s possible for us.
- What do you think the future of the creative industries look like for Africa?
Outside of natural resources, nothing else has the potential to make our continent a great one as much as the creative industry does. We would be further along if our governments saw the potential of how far we could be if they invested more in the creative industries. The future looks bright because slowly we are realising how big we could be if we invested more into the creative industries and how in our diversity, there’s also a lot of common ground in our storytelling. We may have produced a vast number of stories up to date, but even then, there are still uncharted waters when it comes to the stories that are still to be told. The future is not only bright, but it also provides unknown possibilities for all.
- What is the best piece of advice you can offer someone wanting to get into the industry?
The best advice I would give to anyone wanting to get into the industry is to do your research. It’s easy to look at the usual, more popular career options when researching our industry, but there’s many other careers within this space that has a lot of potential and need more players. We need more sales agents, distributors, art directors, focus pullers, the options are plenty. What you might start out as, might not be where you end up 10 years in. Explore other options as much as you can, until you land on something that makes your heart sing.
Read more Behind the Scenes here