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Red hot's Marinda Stein: Sister Namibia interviews Marinda Stein, recent recipient of two Namibia Theatre and Film Awards.

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Marinda, there's something about your story that makes me think ft of Charfize Theron. An ordinary girl from Benoni who went on to do something many don't even dare to dream of. Please tell me about your roots.

What a comparison! But yes, maybe Keetmanshoop is a little like Benoni in the sense that people may not have very high hopes for people from such places. But the South is my place. I even have roots in Berseba where my parents were teachers for a while. So I spent the first half of my primary school years between attending school in Keetmanshoop, and living in Berseba and our farm, !Kharuams during holidays. I grew up in a family that loved reading and music. My grandma on my mom's side, who is in her 80s, still reads a novel a day! Oh, but how I love the South. I remember coming home during university holidays and just loving up the dried yellow grass and black rocks of this land.

Is it a passion for Namibia that saw you enter the TV and film industry?

Coming from pre-independence Namibia, I wanted to do something where I could give utterance to people's voices. So I wanted to become a lawyer. I planned to write stories on the side for myself, because I just love stories. You will laugh, but those worlds from books I read at school have vividly remained with me. I can close my eyes and still see the rooms in which I read them, "Die Sak Mense", "Die Wag vir die Somer"; I love Afrikaans so much. I think and feel in it. When I thus took up an internship with the NBC in their traineeship scheme as a production assistant, it dawned on me that I could tell people's stories with pictures and sound. Now I could be the people's voice and do my stories at the same time.

So you really wanted to tell other people's stories? And did you ever get any formal training?

Yes, even today it gives me immense joy when I can profile people's stories. I attended Technikon Natal, now called Durban University of Technology, where I obtained a National Diploma in Video Production in 2001. NBC gave me a scholarship for tuition and my parents paid for the rest. It was a big toll on them as they were ordinary teachers who moved on to the private sector with little means. And I knew I would have thrown their investment back in their faces if I messed it up. But I loved what I did so their money was safe.

But there are two things I should add. You may receive a gift, but it is important that you nurture it if you want it to become what it potentially can. So it was important for me that I get formal training.

Secondly, had it not been for two groups of people I would not have been where I am today. I am ever grateful to my family for their support and love. Even though they might not have always understood my dreams, they always kept believing in them with me. My dad told me when I finished school that all he and my mother could give us, were a foundation of values and an education, the rest of our lives was our duty to work hard at and live honourably. I carried that with me. I've also had wonderful mentors in Stanley Similo and Paul van Schalkwyk who believed in me before I fully believed in myself. From them I learned we sometimes have the duty to believe in people before they do so.

Looking at your biography it is quite impressive. You have done live TV broadcasts, magazine programmes, game shows, social documentaries, commercials, and corporate videos. You were at the NBC for many years and then part of the pioneering team when ONE Africa Television was launched at the end of 2003. There you were Creative Director and Head of Production. You also directed and produced Namibia's first ever reality show. Just Fabulous, broadcast on ONE Africa Television in 2009. Tell us a little about your years in TV.

I was in the TV industry for 16 years and worked in many different genres as you rightly said. My first big live direction came shortly after I returned from university. It was a four-hour live production of the last Music Makers we had in Namibia; talk about being thrown in at the deep end. I eventually became the Producer and Director of Tutaleni until I left the NBC and joined the pioneering team of ONE Africa, birthed in 2003 from the Namibian affiliate of TV Africa. It was a crazy, almost unbelievable venture that created some of the most memorable moments in my professional life. As I just loved to profile people, my years in TV were really a learning school. But I also knew I always wanted to have the last say on the end product. So when I wanted to go on my own and enter the filmmaking market, it took me a year from making up my mind to finally stepping out.

And you went on your own in 2009?

I resigned from OATV in September 2008 and registered RedHot Film Productions in 2009. I left to make movies and tell my own stories because I wanted to make a difference in people's lives. RedHot? Red signifies passion and I wanted a name people would remember!

Ok, so on that point again; looking at your career thus far, would you say you have indeed fulfilled the call to be a voice for the people?

When I had this desire in my youth, it came from that place of having seen how our people didn't question, but accepted their status as second-class citizens. With independence a new confidence and new generation were born. But years later I must say our economic and political landscape has changed so much that I sense a quiet angst and a kind of fearful living. And while I still love to tell people's stories, I now also want to tell them stories to deal with that angst. I once heard someone say, "Fear no longer has power over you when you face it." For me this means not to hide from life, but to be busy with the business of living, pursuing adventures and writing and directing stories with happy endings. I see this as the upliftment and development of my society. I believe inspired people are productive people and that's why I tell stories to counter the negativity in society.

This is serious business to you then. And you've put in some real hard work over the last few years. Won't you share what you've been up to, please?

In 2009 I was selected to co-write and produce a film with Vickson Hangula --that was my official entrance to the world of film! I was fortunate to be selected to attend a scriptwriting workshop in Johannesburg with Brent Quinn, a true craftsman of stories. Vickson and I then wrote the film "Against the Odds," for Desert Soul Namibia/ Soul City SA, in the "One Love" series, televised in 9 countries across Southern Africa, in 2010.

A busy year was 2012 when I adapted for screen and directed an educational short film, "Your Claim, Your Right," for GIPF. In the same year I produced "Dead River". In 2014 I directed "Coming Home", funded by the Namibia Film Commission. This was another personal dream realized as it earned me my first official big film director credit.

And if I may add, "Dead River" won three awards in 2012 and "Coming Home" won two awards in 2014 at the Namibia Theatre and Film Awards.

What has your latest project been?

I launched my long dreamt-of series on Namibian women on-line in 2013 and launched the complete series on DVD in September this year. "Women of our World" is a project profiling the lives of 13 extraordinary women. The blurb on the DVD says it so well, "'Women of Our World'" is an intimate account of phenomenal Namibian women who share their stories of courage, triumph, hope, faith, love and journeys of light. The series inspires, uplifts and encourages us to all embrace who we are as people, rise above challenges, create harmony in our relationships and live our best lives ever!" The plan is to take this DVD to the regions to inspire women, remind them of their beauty and strength and contribute towards creating a shift-of-mind within our society.

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As written by Vida de Voss

Photo: Vida de Voss
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Title Annotation:Women of note
Author:de Voss, Vida
Publication:Sister Namibia
Article Type:Interview
Date:Dec 1, 2014
Words:1449
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