SOUTH Africa-based Zimbabwean actor Leroy Gopal continues to shine in his career as reflected by many achievements under his belt.
Gopal made his name in 2000 after he featured in a local movie, Yellow Card, playing the character Tiyane Tsumba, a young footballer who mistakenly impregnates his girlfriend. He has since moved to South Africa where he has carved his own niche.
Prior to featuring in Yellow Card, Gopal had appeared in two Christian films about teenage lifestyles — Adventure Unlimited in 1996 and Choose Freedom in 1998.
At 40, the Budiriro-bred actor has featured in a number of productions that include the SABC1 drama series Home Affairs, SABC3 medical drama Jozi-H, SABC2 youth drama series Hola Mpinji, SABC1 sitcom Ses’Top La and the SABC1 soapie Generations and an international movie Kite.
Off the sets, Gopal runs his own small company called Creation Station Entertainment where he focuses on corporate training and skills development.
A trained actor with a BA (Honours) in Live Performance and Motion Picture from AFDA, Gopal is also a professional master of ceremonies who has emceed at various events that include last week’s National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) at the Harare International Conference Centre. Standard Style reporter Winstone Antonio (WA) caught up with Gopal (LG) at the Nama back stage.
Below are excerpts from the interview.
WA: Receiving a call to be the host at the country’s premier awards Nama, how was the feeling?
LG: It is such an honour and privilege I didn’t even think twice when this call and offer came to me, I said yes before anything else because this is home where it all began for me, so it means a lot. Also to be celebrated 20 years after Yellow Card is really a privilege and also shows that God is good.
WA: How is the showbiz in Mzansi vis-à-vis Zimbabwe?
LG: There is a vast difference, I think we should not even talk about that as we are definitely worlds apart.
WA: So what do you think must be done to at least improve our creative sector?
LG: I have been coming home so often and this is the first time in a long time that I can really feel that the way we are doing things is different now. This show is a testimony to that, Zimbabwe has grown, the talent has grown, we are not where we used to be. We should actually never focus on what we can do to improve, we must actually look at the positive things we have done so far and say now that we are able to do A, B and C, what else can we do to go onto D and E.
WA: So will you be coming home back anytime soon?
LG: From what has been shown here (at Namas) definitely I will be coming home more often than I have been in the past.
WA: Leroy away from the set?
LG: I am a very proud family man, 90% of the time I am with my family, so away from all these, is family for me.
WA: How have you managed to handle fame?
LG: One thing I am grateful for is that I started acting at a very young age so fame for me I look it as a bonus, it’s not a way of life, it’s not a way that I live my life. Fame for me is just a complement to what I already do, so I think the key is to remain humble.
WA: So far can you say you have yet achieved what you wanted?
LG: I am only 40, I am only just beginning actually.
WA: Your net worth?
LG: I don’t know. My net worth is not in money, but in my inner circles, that is the people I have and that I can’t give you value for.
WA: The other side of Leroy that people do not know?
LG: I think something that people do not know about me is that I am a puppeteer as well. I can operate a two-handed puppet.
WA: A word of inspiration?
LG: Whoever in Zimbabwe do not give up, keep pushing and whoever is born again and believes in Jesus Christ, let’s stand up for the church, let’s stand up for our Lord Jesus Christ, let’s not shy away from it as I think lately we have been shy.
WA: Word of advice to those who look up to you as their role model?
LG: Never give up as everything that you need is locked inside you, so you just need to find a way to unlock it and get it done. Don’t be afraid, be fearless and be passionate about what you do.
WA: Your favourite food?
LG: Sadza, chicken and vegetables.
WA: Can you say being on screen has changed your personality?
LG: Never, it has made me a better person.
WA: Your parting words?
LG: The sky is actually not the limit, so do what you can passionately.