A two-time SAFTA winner for directing the TV series Intersexions, Rolie Nikiwe also directed Tsha Tsha, Score, Hard Copy, A Place Called Home and The Lab. He is the creator and creative director of e.tv soapie Rhythm City. His work on Tsha Tsha, Intersexions and feature film Inside Story has also garnered international acclaim.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE TV SHOW (LOCAL OR INTERNATIONAL)?
The American series Boston Legal. Funny and dynamic. It has to have produced one of the most iconic characters in any series – Denny Crane (played by William Shatner)!
WHERE DO YOU DISPLAY YOUR SAFTA AWARDS?
Depends where I’m hosting. Sometimes by the braai place, sometimes as a centre piece on my dining table and hopefully quite central in conversation too. But whatever the situation, I always make sure that my visitors get a good view.
WHAT IS THE STRANGEST SCENE YOU’VE EVER HAD TO DIRECT?
A ghost scene. I’m going about my blocking as usual until the actor brings to my attention that his character is in fact a ghost, and therefore not really there. My famous response: “Uh… I knew that!’
WHICH MEDIUM OF STORYTELLING DO YOU PREFER – FILM OR TV – AND WHY?
If a television series is an essay, a film is a poem. I love my poems. Films have a lot more scope for artistry. I consider myself an artist, or at worse, I aspire to be one.
WHEN YOU’RE NOT BUSY DIRECTING, HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR DOWN TIME?
Talking completely non-constructive nonsense with my boys, watching movies, or just chilling with my seven-month-old daughter, blowing lips. Like abrrrrrrrrr! That can take the whole day.
WHO IN THE INDUSTRY WOULD YOU LIKE TO WORK WITH?
Anyone who wants to employ me really! Joking! I’ve already worked with a few I admire – Tim Greene (Skeem), Donovan Marsh (Spud) and Craig Freimond (Material). I’ve always seen them as the directors who are game changers in the industry. I would love to watch Teboho Mahlatsi (Meokgo and the Stickfighter, Portrait of a Young Man Drowning) at work. He has made some of the most brilliant short films to ever come out of the country. I wait eagerly for his first feature film. He is hands down my favourite South African director.
WHO WOULD YOU CAST AS YOURSELF IN A TV SERIES?
That’s a tough one. See I’m deep…
IF YOU HAD TO CREATE A NEW SOAP, WHAT WOULD IT BE ABOUT?
It would be set up in the township and about the music business. I would call it Rhythm City. Lol! Just a cheeky way of me saying I’ve already created one.
IF THINGS ARE GOING PEAR-SHAPED ON SET, WHAT IS YOUR COPING MECHANISM?
A sense of humour and the philosophy of “I’ve seen worse’. Even if it’s not true!
WHAT OR WHERE IS YOUR HAPPY PLACE?
4am on the N1 leaving Joburg for the Eastern or Western Cape. I love driving long distances! Hate driving back though. It always feels longer.
IF YOUR LIFE HAD A SOUNDTRACK, WHAT SONGS WOULD BE ON IT?
It would have to be Nas – Blood of a Slave, Heart of a King! I love hip hop, and even more so when it talks about the plight of the underdog.
WHAT TRULY INSPIRES YOU?
A great idea explodes passion in me.
WHAT IS YOUR OPINION OF REALITY TV?
Reality TV has become a reality in TV. Deal with it. They say evolve or die. I’m not dying.
HAVE YOU HAD ANY MENTORS IN YOUR CAREER? IF SO, WHAT IMPACT DID THEY HAVE?
Harriet Gavshon and David Jammy. They taught me that, no matter how good it is, it can always get better.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I’m working on the development of Intersexions 2 and the promotion of my first feature film, Inside Story.