At this year’s South African Film and Television Awards, Lorcia Cooper walked away with the Best Supporting Actress in a TV drama award for her role as Tyson in Lockdown.
It was Cooper’s first Safta nomination and win. Cooper’s emotional acceptance speech kept the audience standing and touched those watching at home.
“I have been humbled and privileged that wherever I go, I interact with many South Africans who appreciate the character of Tyson. I have learnt that Tyson resonates with all South Africans.
It is my hope that going forward, there will be many more opportunities for coloured performers to play roles from across the spectrum, regardless of race. As coloured people, we are more than one type of character.” She ended off her speech by shouting “awe ma se kind”.
I asked Cooper about her speech and she said it was the right time to say something that would start a dialogue.
“Coloured people are marginalised, and I have worked very hard, and there have been times where there was no work simply because there were no roles for coloured people. We are not just good for the roles of drug addicts, gangsters and other stereotypical roles. We are not just one type of thing,” she said.
She hopes that her speech will allow coloured performers to play roles outside of the negative stereotypes and be represented.
Recalling that night, Cooper said it was a beautiful experience. “I couldn’t believe that people were standing and celebrating me win the award. Receiving the nomination was enough.
"I appreciate the award, but I think that after being in the industry for such a long time, you learn to appreciate and acknowledge yourself,” she said.
Lockdown returned to our screens this week for its fourth season. Speaking on what initially attracted her to Tyson, Cooper said it was the opportunity to step out of the pretty girl role.
“Playing Tyson really stretches me, and I love that, and I was attracted to that. Also, the opportunity to tell such real, aggressive stories as a woman was interesting to me because it has not been done before in South Africa and when I read the script I knew I had to be a part of this production,” she said.
Cooper, who is also now Mrs Kumalo and loving it, said that because Tyson is so far removed from who she is, she has had to commit 100% of herself to the character. “She deals with normal day struggles very differently to me.
We are worlds apart from each other, so when I am on set, I have to commit to who she is. I think that anything that requires you to step away from who you are will be challenging, but this role has been very rewarding,” she said.
When Lockdown first aired, Tyson scared many viewers with her approach on life, and as complex as she was, we soon saw her evolve.
“She started as a powerful prisoner and then she was stripped of her power, then she fell pregnant and went through many things but she stayed a fighter, and I think that is what resonates with people because we are all fighters and at some point, have to fight,” she said.
Cooper says viewers will be surprised by the alliances formed in the new season.
* Lockdown airs on Monday at 8pm on Mzansi Magic (Dstv channel 161).