“Adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it. Which means you have to be prepared for the worst but hope for the best.” Says a young Chris Jaftha while doing press for Roer jou voete, back in 2015. Fast forward to 2017, the man has joined the Top Billing family as a presenter even though he didn’t win SABC3’s Presenter search, where he handled every challenge thrown his way with ease, skill and professionalism.
It’s no secret that it was that attitude that made pantomime casting directors put his name on the list each time theres a project underway. From sharing the stage with legendary actor and director, Tobie Cronje on Sleeping Beauty: The pantomime of your dreams, to Janice Honeyman’s Magical Pantomime Spectacular: Aladdin, Chris dazzled the crowd with his enchanting charm.
Like every performer, diversity always makes the work worth it and The Fugard Theatre’s smash hit musical West Side Story, handed Chris exactly that.
What else attracted you to the character of Barnado?
A character portrayed by an american-born actor Ken LeRoy; in 1957 original production of the same name,“It is a role with a lot of depth and layers. Bernado never chose the life of a gangster but he was put in situations where he had to protect himself, his family and his countrymen, whom he would do anything for. He is a leader and a gentleman, but when it comes to his family and people he should not be tested. Besides being a really tough and mean character, he has integrity and is an honourable man. I’d like to think that I’m the same. Many people have not seen me in a serious, aggressive and hardcore role before. I like the challenge and I get to bust my acting chops.”
Did you anticipate such exceptional reviews?
“To be honest in the beginning yes, but not so much toward the end of our first set of rehearsals in Cape Town. We were given the creative license to adapt the show how we saw fit as long as we stayed true to the story, that in itself is a huge risk but holds huge rewards when done right. It was only after our first audience at our Cape Town run did I realize I was a part of something special and the response was overwhelming. Before then it was touch and go.”
Now that you’re in this place in your career, what are you most certain of?
“I know for sure that what you sow you will reap, but you shouldn’t live your life by the principles of fear. Be a good person always sowing positive seeds, it always comes back to you regardless of how long it may take furthermore; always be sincere.”
Both theatre and TV demands a lot from you as a person, what do you do to take care of yourself?
“I am quite an athletic guy, I hit the gym as often as I can and I eat quite clean. I play soccer, basketball, table tennis. I also indulge in capoeira from time to time and still have a few tricks up my sleeve even though I don’t do it as much as I used to.”
Because of theatre’s immediacy I have to ask you this personal question, when was the last time you fell?
“About three weeks ago in West Side story. There was a slippery patch on stage, while doing a routine i slipped and fell. These are the joys of theatre – anything can happen.”
Had you always known that you would be an entertainer?
“So much pressure is put on you to know who you are and what you want to do when you’re at school. But you’re still a kid, how would you really know? Some do know and they’re blessed and fortunate but I didn’t. I thought I did. In primary school I wanted to be a plastic surgeon, then at the end of high school I wanted to be a computer animator. Now I’m an actor, presenter, model, MC, voice over artist and a dancer.”
With the year only two months in, it comes expected that Chris Jaftha has a great start to the year already and we sure cant wait to see how he turns something out of it.