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Cape Town – While the country mourns the loss of an entertainment icon, some within the arts have decried economic hardship faced by those within the industry, following the death of revered actress Shaleen Surtie-Richards.
Surtie-Richards died on Monday at a Cape Town guest house. Born in Upington and raised in Cape Town, Surtie-Richards, 66, is best known for her roles in Egoli: Place of Gold and Fiela se Kind, among other TV shows, films and theatre productions.
Arte Viva management director Nikki Froneman said: “Despite the appearance of fame and fortune; and as agents we are very much aware of this, this is a sad reality that faces many actors and performing artists.”
“What the public may not know is that actors that star in commercials are paid a ‘usage fee’ for a specific package which encompasses medium(s) e.g. TV or internet, time period and territory. The package must be renewed and increased if the commercial is used more than the initial agreement.
“However, ‘usage’ does not apply to television and film roles, so most times actors are paid an agreed per day fee or package, and no matter how successful the film or series, or how many times it is shown, the actors receive no additional remuneration,” she said.
Froneman said ongoing discussions around this, involving various industry bodies, were under way to ensure fair and equitable practices, in line with international standards.
In a media report, actress Lizz Meiring said Surtie-Richards refused to be booked into a hospital due to her finances.
Although not able to confirm this, family spokesperson and musician Alistair Izobell said the actress was never denied any medical care due to financial difficulties.
“Shaleen had financial challenges as everyone in the entertainment industry for the past year and three months and have not being able to sustainably work. In terms of whether she needed medical care, I can’t add to any of that narrative because I was not privy to that particular aspect but that she was denied medical care was unfounded and untrue,” the family spokesperson said.
Surtie-Richards had been battling diabetes for about two decades, with chest problems.
Premier Alan Winde has requested a special provincial funeral for Surtie-Richards, a request he said was supported by the family.