Actor Rob Van Vuuren apologises for doing 'blackface' in movie
Former Rhodes University student and Queen Sono actor Rob Van Vuuren has issued a public apology for doing blackface in a 2013 Leon Schuster film, expressing profound regret over his past decision.
This after the ripple effect from the #BlackLivesMatter movement saw streaming services like Showmax temporarily remove Schuster films as they review their racial insensitivity, according to media reports.
The actor said he was “deeply ashamed”, and that even though he wishes he could say he didn't know better, he actually knew what blackface was and what it meant.
“There is no easy way to say this. In 2013 I did blackface in a Leon Schuster movie. I am deeply ashamed about this fact and very sorry for the hurt it has caused. I wish I could say I didn't know any better at the time, but the truth is that I did.”
Van Vuuren said at the time, he made excuses for himself and justified his actions to himself using “facts” to convince himself he did blackface from “a place of love and respect.”
“I made all sorts of excuses for myself at the time to justify doing it. I pointed to the diversity of the demographics of Leon's audience. I argued that his work was most powerful when it exposed white hypocrisy in the 'rainbow nation' and revealed the fears and anxieties of a white minority unwilling to relinquish its privilege. I convinced myself that any of the characters I portrayed would be from a place of love and respect.”
The comedian, who is the father of a child of colour, said he failed to examine his own privilege and prejudice. He said he realises that he chose money over morals, and now in retrospect regrets betraying not only himself, but his daughter as well.
“In the end, the money fades very quickly, but the choices I make stay with me. I betrayed not only myself but also my daughter. Living with the shame of that is a small price to pay for unlearning my prejudices and the growth that comes with accepting the consequences of my behaviour.
“I have a responsibility to myself and my daughter to be better. I apologise unreservedly for the hurt my actions have caused and for contributing to negative stereotypes from a position of power and privilege. I cannot change what I have done but I can be mindful of how I can contribute to the conversation going forward from a position of empathy and humility.”