By JADE RHODE
Jamie-Lee Anthony is an Honours student in the Drama department, having spent four years at the purple institution. When we meet in person for the first time, I am greeted with a hug. I am slightly taken aback by this sincere and unexpected action but the warmth of her embrace is transferable and assures me that this interview will go smoothly.
Once Anthony sits down, I am immediately drawn to her eye makeup, a form of self-expression that was once a hobby. The shimmer of the gold eyeshadow on the inner corners of her eyes matches the chain hanging from her neck, a significant piece of jewellery in the Coloured community. The black design on her eyelids brings a sense of hidden edginess. “I just like making art,” she says. But this is not the only art she makes.
Anthony’s passion for performance and engaging with stories started at a young age. She grew up in the small neighbourhood of Breidbach, Qonce (formerly King William’s Town), in a home filled with storytellers, with her grandmother being her biggest influence. “She showed me how enjoyable it can be just to tell people a few stories that can make them laugh and smile.”
With her specialisation in directing, acting, and writing, Anthony showed off the former and latter in a play under her direction, Intimate Apparel. The play was written by Lynn Nottage, with the original script focusing on African Americans in the 1900s. Anthony then adapted the script to fit a Coloured context and to inspire those who would want to share their stories.
“The more I read it [the script], the more I started seeing my aunt in the same picture.”
Prompted by her adaptation, I asked Anthony what the word ‘Coloured’ means to her. After a long pause, she says, “For me, ‘Coloured’ means coming together. It’s not just about the different cultures we have come from. It’s about how we can all find something familiar with each other and unite because of that.
“We are a ‘close[ly]related’ group. We always tend to gravitate towards each other. So, I really think it’s just about connection more than anything else, and these stories can really help us connect more with each other.”
The play – set in the 1980s – tells the story of a young seamstress who sews intimate garments for women inside and outside her community. “She tends to adapt to the way of living of those people,” says Anthony. “She has this dream to become big, to expand on her dream as a designer and beautician and just form something that can really help people in her community.”
The seamstress also goes through her own trials and tribulations. “Through those tough times, I felt the story really is about trying to achieve your dreams no matter what, and you just have to push through because you should never try to downsize your dreams.”
She continues, “Always move forward, no matter what pushes you through it. With Coloured women, we have done that. Through so many tough times, these women still carry on and still try to be the perfect wife, mother, and woman.”
See also: https://colouredful.wordpress.com/