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Two days with Forest Whitaker

New hit series Godfather of Harlem currently streaming on Showmax

We know him for his Oscar-winning portrayal of Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland and a whole lot of great movies we’ve seen in our time. The legend himself Forest Whitaker has been in the country to promote his new Showmax Drama series titled Godfather Of Harlem. Showmax organized a fan screening at the John Kani Market Theatre this past Thursday, which kicked off with red carpet moments that had some of the fantastic celebrities like Anele Mdoda who was also host for the night, Bab’ Jerry Mofokeng, Pamela Nomvete, Celeste Ntuli, Mpho Osei-Tutu, Sophie Lichaba, Tarina Patel and the man of the moment Forest Whitaker. The theme was ‘Harlem’

Bumpy Johnson on one of the scenes from the series

Speaking at the opening of the night was the Chief Marketing officer at Showmax:

We were treated to an exclusive screening of episode 5 & 6 of this series, ‘Godfather Of Harlem’ which are not yet out and Anele Mdoda our host for the night had a Q & A with the Multi-Award winner to uncover some of the tactics he uses to bring out great performances that make him such an incredible actor.

Chief Marketing Officer at Showmax:

“The streaming market is becoming increasingly competitive…At Showmax what really differentiates us and one of the things that we’re quite proud of is that we have the ability to showcase the best African content, we have an amazing kids offering and the live streaming of sports. And of course we bring you the best international series, like Godfather of Harlem which is a stand out series for us.”

Forest Whitaker and Anele Mdoda
Pic by: Alex Kamotondole

Showmax also ushered us to a Masterclass on Friday where Anele Mdoda continued with an excellent job hosting the event and I must say her interviewing style is just immaculate and digs deeper to some of the things that made us understand Forest even more. 

Masterclass in session

Forest spoke of how he first finds the spine of the character before he starts adding onto the character. He researches their fears, needs and wants. This is what he had to say:

“I try to understand what his fears were, what his needs were. I was searching for those kinds of stories that will help me understand the things he felt he needed to protect…information comes at different times. When I look into a character I try to find the truth…what has happened in their lives that motivates their actions today.”

Godfather of Harlem: Malcom X, Bumpy and Reverend Powell

We were taken through a series of pictures showcasing some of the projects that Forest is doing in some African countries like Uganda and also here in South Africa which proves that he is an activist and agent for change through his organization The Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative. 

We had a room full of thespians & it was such a magical experience all together seeing how blessed we are in South Africa with great talent. Some interesting questions from the room included finding out what’s his take on the current state of our industry where men are more privilege than women, he said: 

As far as black female actresses, they’re getting opportunities at the moment at least to be able to start expressing themselves in a more powerful way, behind and in front of the camera. So hopefully that’s gonna continue as all these different stories will be told.” Also very interesting thing to note was that after Forest Whitaker finished shooting ‘Last King of Scotland’ which is the movie that afforded him an Oscar, three months later he was stuck in that role that he had to shower and scream loud literally everyday to get it out of him.

In attendance we had actors like Vatiswa Ndara, Warren Masemola, Camilla Waldman, Thapelo Mokoena, Loyiso Macdonald, Shannon Esra, Schelaine Bennette and Stephanie Sandowns.

Special mention was made regarding more local content from Showmax next year with ‘Lockdown’ new season already filming and set to premiere exclusively on Showmax. As this was the first time they brought an international act in the country we can only hope that this is the start to many more great things of this nature and engaging the industry in a good way to chart a path that we will all be proud of.

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