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Rising actor brings his satirical musical show to Sandton

Daniel Mphilo Richards. Picture supplied.

Daniel Mphilo Richards. Picture supplied.

Published Jul 26, 2022

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Daniel Mphilo Richards. Picture supplied.

Prashirwin Naidu

Johannesburg - Money’s too tight to mention, load shedding is a pain, and the times are getting tougher. But there’s some cheer in the form of a one-off musical from Daniel Mphilo Richards, an award-winning actor from Cape Town, who will be taking to the stage featuring his own musical compositions with friend and award-winning star Tankiso Mamabolo in a show called “What’s your Budget?” on July 31 at Theatre On The Square in Johannesburg.

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Richards, 30, is a writer, producer and director, who has performed in the UK, US, Czech Republic, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and across South Africa doing a series of one man shows written by the legendary Mike van Graan.

“What’s your Budget?” is a humorous, heart-warming musical production in which they both share stories about money during their lives. “Two friends from different backgrounds navigating life, pain, joy, brokenness and a love for an impossible career choice, it’s nostalgic, hilarious and charming,” said Richards.

Graduating in 2013 from the University Of Cape Town with a Bachelor Of Arts and Honours Degree in Theatre and performance, Richards’ star has shone brightly since getting a Chevening Scholarship to do his Masters of Film and Television Producing. It was in London, at Met Film School in Ealing. Richards had completed it in the year 2019.

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Richards wants to shift the consciousness of the youth in South Africa using art and intends to digitalise and distribute history through stories and cultural practices of the original inhabitants of South Africa, the San and the Khoi, lessons he picked up from his father’s books.

Born in Switzerland, Richards spent a few months as a newborn in the US, before his folks moved to Johannesburg and later Cape Town where he was raised along with his younger sister. At three, Richards recalled his father creating and recording a video of him talking to his baby boy, using puppets. Richards watched it every day while his father had been travelling to work. “One could argue that’s how I got into Drama.”

At 14, he was cast in the play “Lord Of The Flies” at the Market Theatre. It was a six week creative process full of rehearsals and the show ran for about eight weeks long. He shared the stage with professional actors and kids from all different walks of life from other schools. Richards said he loved every day of that experience “except one, I remembered thinking… I could do this for the rest of my life, how wonderfully naïve”.

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His parents made the purposeful choice to expose their children to the various types of cultures, lifestyles and people.

“life was colourful, multi-cultural and filled with love,” he said.

Richards’ parents made sure to give him and his sister the best life possible.

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“My mother took us to the theatre at a very young age, I remember watching a show called ‘Ghoema’ and dreaming of being able to sing, dance and act like those performers,” he said.

School was not his favourite cup of tea, rather there was something much more deeper and poignant in his soul that needed to be set free. “I envisaged a career away from a desk, I didn’t know what a career in theatre looked like until I did it,” he said.

Richards is the creative director and trustee on the Board of the Ruben Richards Foundation (NPO). He owns a production company called DMR Productions which he founded in 2014.

Currently living on a citrus farm in Clanwilliam which is about a two and a half hour drive outside of Cape Town, Richards and his family made a life-changing decision to move to the farmlands during the 2020 Covid lockdown.

His advice as an actor in the post-Covid world is to create multiple streams of income regardless of your career choice.

“If you can rely on being an actor to sustain yourself, you are very blessed,” he said.

Covid-19 forced him to adapt and improvise in ways he thought he could have never imagined.

“You have to be willing to learn constantly and learn to develop new skills in which those skills will help to sustain yourself,” he said.

Richards believes one must stay humble, seek knowledge and be kind.

At the present moment as an actor Daniel is getting ready for a mini-series which will be filmed from September to December 2022 in Cape Town. He said that he’s excited to get his teeth sunk into what seems to be a juicy character.

Not so long ago Richards directed a short-film in which he shot in the Cederberg region, Citrusdal. He had co-written the short film with Emerine Marshall who is from Citrusdal. The film is autonomously on her own impression of being a mother and community member.

He is presently directing a one-woman satirical comedy written by the legendary Mike van Graan which will be starring Kim Blanche Adonis.

Now Richards is always in constant and never-ending refinement of his beloved craft and extraordinary capabilities as a writer, director, producer and a musician.

Richards said that acting continues to pay the bills which he is eternally grateful for. He and his wife have written a feature film which he is now seeking funding for. He is also now putting pen to paper and bringing to life historical drama films and series.

“I have my producer's hat on most of the time, my career as a creative is everything, everywhere all at once,” said Richards.

He plans to leave Cape Town in 2023 and will be based in London where he will be reunited with his wife Daisy Doris May Richards who lives in the UK.

He’s always wanted to work in the UK and has had the taste for it and now wants to go back. He actually wants to go back to live with his wife!, he says excitedly. He misses her and has been far apart from her for far too long. Yet, moving does not seem to bother him.

“I will continue to do all things I do as a creative, but from a different part of the world.”

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