Mzansi is still reeling from the news that industry icon Jamie Bartlett is no more.
The 55-year-old television and theatre legend reportedly died on Monday, May 23. The cause of death is yet to be announced.
Tributes have been pouring in on social media since a family member confirmed Bartlett’s death on Monday evening.
“Devastating”, is how “Black Panther” star Connie Chiume described it.
Chiume, who played Mamokete on e.tv’s “Rhythm City”, said Bartlett’s death is a “huge loss” to the entertainment industry across the world.
In a conversation with Newzroom Africa’s Ayanda Nyathi on Tuesday morning, Chiume said she was still shaken by the news.
“I'm still shivering after the news that I got last night because I spoke to Jamie on Friday asking him if he could join me on my birthday in two weeks,” she said.
“I wanted him to be on the poster with me, he was so excited. He even sent me three pictures instantly. So you can imagine how shocked I was when I got the news yesterday.
“It’s a big loss to the South African industry, to the continent, and I dare say the world, because he was one of the talents in the country.”
The “Gomora” actress added that despite Bartlett’s success, he remained humble.
Reflecting on her first encounter with him, Chiume said Bartlett took his craft very seriously, even in the earlier days of his career.
“The first time I worked with him was in ‘Soul City’, years ago, that's when I realised he was very professional.
“When I met him again in ‘Rhythm City’, it was such a pleasure to once more see him and share his experiences and my experiences with other actors in ‘Rhythm City’.
“The way he portrayed (David) Genaro is almost how Jamie was – like I said, he was a very lively person … he didn’t lack words or accents that will just surprise you. He was that person (actor) who will take it further than what the director has directed him to do.”
When asked about some of the lessons she took away from him, Chiume said: “To be human ... not to get drunk from the so-called celebrity syndrome. That was Jamie. He was down to earth, he was humble.
“He loved everyone. His status as one of the biggest actors in the country didn't make him a diva.
“I know that he wished that every young person who comes into the industry should be successful and understand the industry well.”
Watch the full interview below.
Paying her respects to Bartlett, former “Rhythm City” star Mapula Mafole reflected on her first interaction with the star.
“Jamie, I’m so heartbroken 🥺 You know, Jamie was one of the first actors I encountered on my first day at RC. He made me feel so welcomed.
“The first thing he said to me was, ‘And who are you, Darling?’ from that day on I knew I could always go to him for advice and even a shoulder to cry on. Thank you for your friendship ❤️ Rest in peace Jamie B 💔🕊”.
Taking to her Instagram page, “Indemnity” star Gail Mabalane wrote: “I never got to work with this icon … BUT…what an impact he has made … what a legend! 😔🙏🏾 Prayers and condolences to your loved ones, Jamie. 🕊 #RestInPeace”.
“Generation: The Legacy” star Zola Nombona shared an images of her and Bartlett and simply captioned the post: “Forever in my heart 🕊”
Reality TV star and author Mome Mahlangu also conveyed her message of condolences to the family. She wrote: “I’m in disbelief of my morning @realjamiebartlett ☹️🙏🏻 I’m so sorry @rosa_lixious we were seeing u guys next week 😫”
She continued: “We had the realest conversations all the time ... one of the conversations that you were concerned about was lack of support in the industry and more competition, that’s why there are no solid relationships and more mental health issues and we are too judgemental to share or break down but hold it up for fans to think u ok.
“Thank you for being you , thank you for your love and kindness above your talent.
“Fellow industry folks here is a message from @realjamiebartlett hope it will help … take care of your #mentalhealth industry folks #RIPjamie thank u for the support u have shown.”
The National Arts Festival also paid tribute to the theatre legend. “It is with great sadness that we learned today of the passing of Jamie Bartlett. Jamie was best-known for his ‘bad-guy’ roles on screen but theatre was very close to Jamie’s heart, and he often worked closely with the Market Theatre, cast in projects that shone a spotlight on the injustices of apartheid,” read the statement shared on the NAF official Instagram page.
“Our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones – he will be sorely missed by the arts community.”
Bartlett is best known for his roles as Mike O’Reilly on SABC 3’s “Isidingo” and David Genaro on e.tv’s “Rhythm City”.
He won Best Actor in a Soap award at the South African Film and Television Awards on three occasions and was nominated five times in total.
Funeral arrangements are yet to be announced.