Terry Fortune: ‘Highlight of my career ... 50 years I’ve been a female impersonator’

Terry Fortune. Picture: Facebook

Terry Fortune. Picture: Facebook

Published Mar 10, 2021


Musical icon Terry Fortune was recently honoured with the kykNET Fiëstas Legend award for his outstanding performances and immense contribution to the music industry.

Chatting to Fortune from his Cape Town home, the entertainer got me chuckling throughout the 40-minute call, as he took me down memory lane.

“I went to UWC when I finished matric. And I did social work. And then I was sitting at my desk as a social worker and I thought, I'm gonna sit behind this desk until I'm 60 years old, I will get three weeks annual leave and that will be the only time I will have a life, there must be more ... and I thought let me go into show business and hopefully the arts will be able to give me more,” says Fortune.

He adds: “The most relevant aspect of a career is ... 50 years I’ve been a female impersonator … that was my job.”

While he’s grateful for the award, Fortune says it was the prize money that came with the big honour that he is most thrilled about, particularly during these trying times for artists, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I’m practical because this a business. I love the arts, and I love theatre. But I can't go to the bank and say I've got this award, can you take this award instead of me paying my bond?

“They would say ‘No, ka*, give us the money, you can keep the award’.”

Reflecting on the big moment, he says: “I was absolutely thrilled.

“And this was relevant for me. A number of my colleagues in the industry weren't as privileged to live to my age.

“I’m not that old, I'm 72. Many of them died in their sixties.

“Also, because of their political nature, they were never privileged to have their contribution celebrated. So for me, I knew that my chommies ... they would be looking down and saying, ‘good one Terry, you made it, when you come up here by us, bring the award’.”

He admits to being happy that the award made a “positive change in the arts".

“That award is still very confined to persons that are fairer. It has not been extended across the board in South Africa but I am positive it will change some time in the future.”

The 11th kykNET Fiëstas was held virtually for the first time this year. To view all the winners of the kykNET Fiëstas 2021, click here.

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