Youth Achiever Award winner 2019- Layla Swart

SAFTA’s, South Africa’s Oscars of the TV and Film industry. We’ve celebrated the 13th year the past weekend in Sun City and we’ve seen well-deserved winners, amazing as well as questionable fashion choices and of course lots of tears and laughter of happiness.

This post is dedicated to the amazing Layla Swart who won the “Youth Achiever Award” this year and it was indeed well-deserved. This award is, of course sponsored by Ster-Kinekor and is in its 3rd year now (will be sponsored for a further two years). I’ve worked with Ster-Kinekor on numerous occasions and it’s always been an amazing experience so I’m really grateful for the opportunity granted to interview Layla.


Mel: Firstly, congratulations on a well-deserved award, how are you feeling?

Layla: Overwhelmed, it’s a been a really tough 10 years in the industry and I think one doesn’t really expect acknowledgement or accolades. Filming is my passion and I love it so this is amazing.


M: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?

L: Definitely this moment! It’s my first Safta and it’s a big one, so proud of myself.


M: An award like this immediately propels you into the spotlight as an ambassador for young people, how are planning on using this platform?

L: I think the youth of South Africa came off age in a very uncertain time but the possibilities that exist for us as filmmakers of colour right now have never been there before. What’s important to me is to empower the inner spirit, I mean the opportunities are there but now is the time for them to believe in themselves.  To believe that they’re worthy of success, to encourage young film makers and dreamers that this is their time.


M: How do you feel about brands like Ster-Kinekor getting involved with initiatives like this?

L: I think it’s crucial since they’re one of the biggest brands in our film industry. From a young age in SA you get introduced to them and it resonate with film making. The fact that they’re taking the time to nurture the youth and support them in this industry is incredibly important and I’m proud to be associated with them.


M: In a mostly male-dominated space, how does it feel to receive this award? Especially with issues that females endure raised during the #MeToo campaign.

L: First and foremost, it’s our time on a global scale, no more taking the back seat. I’m very proud to be in existence in a time like this, to witness and actively play a role in it as I feel women have struggled for centuries to get the recognition they deserve in the battle with their male counterparts. I still feel we have a long way to go, baby steps but we are evolving and I consider myself fortunate to be part of the evolution.


M: What message do you have for the youth or anyone out there that would like to pursue a career in filming or in the entertainment industry?

L: I think it’s always daunting when you start out in an industry like this because there’s no stepladder; it’s not like you can obtain a degree in filmmaking and suddenly all the doors will open for you. What I will say is find the reason why you really want to tell stories and make films, find that reason and back yourself, no matter what because this is a confidence game. As soon as you have your vision don’t doubt it as doors will start to open for you. I’d also like to add that the government  has put incredible schemes in place and they’re still working towards adding more. It’s a process and won’t happen overnight but they are there to support young filmmakers, more than they’ve ever been.

*Layla also won the award for “Best Short film” for StillBorn, pictured here with the cast.

Saftas 20191043
Cast and team of “Stillborn”

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