It’s cold, the sun is going down, walking a good mile or two to the final location and while we’re all obviously exhausted, Kgomotso Christopher remains the calm and ever so focused professional that she is. When we finally reach set, she heads towards her make-up touch-up and serves the same quality of looks that she did in the morning, two locations ago, all while wearing a perfectly fitting golden-glazed jumpsuit with the most arresting neckpiece. Christopher’s demeanor alone proves what we’ve always known about women but often undervalue – that no matter the outer conditions that surround us, we have an uncanny ability to leverage them in order that we deliver our best in the moment of opportunity.
While it may be easy to attribute Christopher’s response to her familiarity with being the woman who is accustomed to having the world’s eyes on her, the interaction with her throughout the process, would prove otherwise. From the initial e-mails, WhatsApp conversations, calls and logistical arrangements, Christopher’s way of grace had been consistent. Fittingly so, her name “Kgomotso”, which means “comfort”, lends so well to the energy she infuses in every environment – one of utter comfort. Her role as a mother and wife, extend to all the environments she is in.
In the 1700’s German poet, philosopher, physician, historian, and playwright Friedrich Schiller said, “Grace is the beauty of form under the influence of freedom”. If there is one woman who has brought those words back to life centuries later its seasoned actress, ivy league Masters graduate, 2019 SAFTA Award-winning actress and Naledi Awards chair, Kgomotso Christopher.
Christopher finds herself at a time in her life and career where she can freely pursue acting while still being a mother and wife, without having to place the dreams of her family before her own. A rare freedom. A true freedom. A blessed freedom. A grace inducing freedom carried perfectly by her form. A freedom which is sought by so many women still 63 years after the march of ’56 which saw 20 000 women embark on the Union Buildings to petition against the country’s pass laws – a women-led march for the benefit of all, something women are accustomed to doing because getting things done is our modus operandi.
Getting things done with a fine sense of grace is a rare quality. When asked about Christopher’s natural sense of grace, she said, “I believe it’s from my upbringing. I was raised to be very respectful and considerate of others…that no man or woman is an island. I am no less or more important than the next person. I therefore am always conscious of this notion. Which I guess, presents itself as grace.”
Christopher’s had an impressive career so far with memorable characters that she’s played such as Scandal’s Yvonne Langa on eTV, a character she not only plays currently but also confidently states as her favorite. In playing this role, Christopher has indicated that she loves playing an imperfect person as she expresses, “I love playing a person who is struggling financially, socially and otherwise but still loves the good life – a hustler of note, rough around the edges but loves the beautiful and sophisticated life and doesn’t put herself down. Yvonne is also the first loud-mouthed, comic character I have played. I have loved exploring the comic side of my performance range.”
She’s mastered these roles at the tail-end of years of preparation and a consistent professional approach. Christopher is more than justified in using the hashtag #TheEducatedActress on her social media platforms. Having matriculated from the National School of the Arts, Christopher attained a BA (Law & Politics) from the University of Cape Town and a Masters of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts from the University of Columbia. Of the importance of education in one’s chosen profession, Christopher states, “It’s no different to any other field or profession. One’s formal education and training equips one with skills that one can apply in the field, so to speak. The education is a necessary foundation that arms one with tools to use beyond the book and the classroom. The balance is using those formal skills to prepare for your performances and inform your choices as an actor. However never forgetting to play and accessing your instincts to guide your performances. Besides my extensive training and experience in the dramatic arts as a deciding factor in being chosen for roles, I also do have a reputation in the industry, which I believe is influenced by my training, for being a very professional and dedicated artist. For me, acting is not only my passion and calling, it’s a profession I take very seriously.”
Indeed she does take it seriously, especially as a vocation that she sums up as being an act of courage. In an age where a considerable Instagram following can bypass the work involved in learning the craft, Christopher’s take on this sites insight into the perception of the profession, “The era of social media and influencer culture cannot be ignored, be it in SA or in the global setting. My fear however is that we’re breeding a generation of youngsters who don’t believe that education is a necessary step in any career one chooses, including the Arts. We’ve already seen that the status quo has led to the devaluing of acting as a profession, which I truly believe is connected to the struggle of South African actors having recognisable rights that protect them as professionals. Acting is no longer seen as a profession where practitioners dedicate time on training themselves and honing their skills but more of a field where anyone can take their chance, as long they have a strong social media profile.”
True to the nature of a seasoned professional whose years behind her grant her the right to carry such sound perspective, this is also true to the fact that she is a professional woman in the industry. In opening up about her career as a woman, Christopher opens up about what being a woman means to her. She says, “When I think of the essence of being a woman, I’m always reminded of the Sesotho proverb Mosadi o tshwara thipa bohaleng. Loosely translated, it means that “a woman always holds the knife by its sharp end”. For me it captures the essence of what it means to me to be a woman. A nurturer, protector of those around her but has the strength to hold and survive the sharp edges of life’s challenges. While my womanhood and femininity make me part of the ‘fairer sex’, I’ve never allowed it to mean I cannot measure up to any man.”
Indeed she has measured up to men – part of which involves her mothering a son as she does her daughter – in an approach which focuses on equality. Christopher quite emphatically says, “I am raising two human beings; adults of tomorrow. My responsibility is to make sure they have the same value system regardless of their gender. Responsibilities are not gender-based. Chores are not gender-specific. When it’s time for us to clean the house, we do it together. When it’s time to work in the garden or wash the dishes or cook, it’s a joint effort. There are no boy’s or girl’s responsibilities in my home. Nor are there boy’s or girl’s toys in the home. I’ve been very conscientious about this as a parent.”
This extends to the attention she pays towards being a woman and raising a woman-to-be in a world that is yet to become a world where equality is the order of the day across all environments. Of this, Christopher quips, “I have the responsibility to nurture and mold an individual who can make an impact in their chosen path. A woman who will never be made to believe that her womanhood and choices as a woman are a limitation to her dreams, whatever they may be. I need to be exemplary in my choices and my achievements, I need to be the woman I would like her to be, one day because ultimately, how can you be what you cannot see?”
Indeed, having a vision for oneself, even be it for the benefit of another, begins with having it for that very self. In asking whether Christopher is living as the woman whom she sees in her dreams, her response is at the very least, inspiring.
“It is exactly who I dreamed to be and more” she says. Christopher continues to say, “My kids recently asked me how it feels when I look at my life today and think of all the things I wished for and didn’t have growing up and now have. I told them that I am grateful. We all have dreams when we are young and not all of us have the fortune to realise those dreams. I truly have been granted that privilege and blessing.”
Kgomotso Christopher has a way with grace that makes her deep sense of gratitude easily felt. True to hope for all things positive and enriching in her life, career and for the lives of her loved ones, we certainly share that hope and more than hoping, know with unquestioning faith that this award winning actress, is an ever evolving well of wander whose future is a gift not only for the local industry but most certainly international fronts as well.
Assisted By: @thabomadedifrent
Hair Designer: @fancy_claws x @nenezanemthembu
Fashion Director: @karinorzol