5 minutes with Abena Ayivor


After acting as Lerato in Generations and dominating our small screens until over the years, Abena Ayivor decided to focus more on acting in films. We catch up with her to find out what she has been up to over the years and about her character in the British romantic drama A United Kingdom.

By: Fundiswa Nkwanyana

1. I grew up in a small town called Butterworth in the Transkei. It was a quiet town and there was not much to do. I passed the time by reading, which opened up my imagination and eyes to television and films. I remember appearing in a school play when I was 13 years old. I felt happy and alive on stage, and that was when I knew that I wanted to be an actress.

2. My acting career started in soapies, but now my heart is in films. Acting in soapies opened many doors for me. I am glad that I grabbed the opportunities when they presented themselves. I have been acting for about 15 years, and have now decided to focus more on films, writing scripts and doing voice-overs. As an English-speaking actress, it was difficult to find acting jobs in South Africa because of the rise in the need for actors who speak ethnic languages. I decided to redirect my career into films and add more skills to my CV.

3. Over the years, I have decided to be multi-skilled. Jobs in films are far between, and I needed to find ways of making money while I waited for roles. That is why today I am a voice-over artist and scriptwriter, because it is important to be able to put food on the table all the time.

4. I am excited about my future as a scriptwriter. When I decided to start writing, I had never written since high school. But, something in me wanted to explore writing, so I went ahead and followed my heart. It has paid off because today I am the head writer for MTV Shuga –  a soapie airing on MTV . I look forward to writing more because it makes me feel alive, and I love it.

5. The film A United Kingdom has an important message that resonates with many people. I play Tshekedi Khama’s wife, Ella. My character questions the chief for coming back with white women who don’t understand the local culture. The film covers issues like race, politics, culture and love – issues we are still battling to address even today. It’s an important film for our time.

6. I have worked hard and I believe my future looks promising. I hope that I get more and bigger acting roles in films as that is where my passion lies. I also hope my writing continues to open more doors for me.

Check out the trailer for the movie below.