It’s been two years since Welcome Estate actor and writer, Joseph Mitchell, traded his full-time job for the entertainment
industry, and although it comes with its challenges, he would not want it any other way.
Mr Mitchell, who can now be seen as Uncle Johnny in the Kyknet soapie Arendsvlei, has become a familiar face on South African television screens as he has featured in many advertisements over the years. He also had roles in movies and international advertisements, and during the 1990s, he entertained thousands of children as a puppeteer.
The 57-year-old used to do all this, while working full-time for the City of Cape Town – saving up all his leave days to do shoots – but two years ago, he took early retirement to focus on his acting career.
He has also delved into the world of social media with his work – having uploaded more than 30 videos on Facebook and YouTube. His poem, Dankie dat ek leef vir nog ‘* dag, had 28 000 views.
Over the past two years, his routine has changed dramatically, but being a full-time actor has also given him an opportunity to be more involved with his community, he said.
“I don’t have a set schedule anymore. Sometimes I miss the rat race, but I do enjoy where I am at now. My life now is all about going for auditions up to three times a week. From five auditions, one would be lucky to get one job. I have learnt that the industry also has a season, and when it is quiet, it allows me to do my own stuff,” Mr Mitchell said.
He started a walking group in his community, and is also involved with the local civic association. With the varied topics being discussed while on their walks – from politics to the challenges in the community – he joked that it might make a good script for a play.
The first movie Mr Mitchell had a role in, was Jantjie, Kom Huis Toe, in 1983. He was also part of the cast of Meulanders, a 13-episode production, as well as Craig en Cardo.
“This is the first time I am involved with a soapie which already has 150 episodes. It’s wonderful. The rest of the cast is very nice, and many of them address me as uncle. I am happy to be a part of an awesome cast. The pace and storyline of soapies are very fast and the language is different. Sometimes we can shoot up to six episodes on one day, and you must know your lines,” he said.
When asked which he prefers – theatre, movies or television – Mr Mitchell explained that each came with its pros and cons.
“I like musicals, and the theatre environment allows you a much longer time to develop your character. However, I also enjoy film.”
His future plans involve moving to Johannesburg next year, on a temporary basis, to see how he can develop his career even more.
“I have already prepared my family for it, mentally. I realised that the ‘high season’ in the industry is different for Johannesburg and Cape Town. So I am now considering becoming a ‘seasonal worker’,” he said.