Lusanda and Mel, Who They?
They partners, Directors Lusanda and Mel, started out working in the commercials industry as Production Manager and Researcher respectively. From Bouffant, to Velocity and Egg, and everywhere in-between, they eventually pursued their real passion of directing and soon began collaborating on projects as a team. In search of a production company that genuinely wanted to effect change in the film industry and was willing to be held accountable when it came to embracing diversity (and happen to also have the awards and experience to back them up) the duo joined They in 2019 – making them the *first and only black female directing team in the country, KAPOW! Go check out their work here.
*Obvs that we know of okay. If you know of more, please let us know!
IDIDTHAT: As female directors, what is the toughest challenge that you two face right now?
Lusanda: To be completely honest, it’s getting into a pitch room. When I started working there were only a handful of black male directors, now there are many and they are working, they’re busy, and that is because they were let into the room to pitch. Agencies need to now commit to having one womxn on every three-way pitch because then, and only then, will we be playing on equal ground. Then we have a chance.
Mel: It’s not about one creative fighting to get one womxn into a pitch room, it’s about ad agencies committing to one womxn being in every pitch and it’s really not that hard. Nobody is asking for handouts; we just want to be let in the room.
IDIDTHAT: What do you all want to achieve with the They partnership?
Lusanda: Our partnership started not just because Darren and Alan wanted black female directors at the table for business purposes, but because they honestly wanted to nurture a relationship with us. We felt valued as directors in the company and together we all realised that we could make They more meaningful to the SA commercials space by challenging the current system and asking the industry to stop just talking about change.
Alan: As a business we are also proud to fight for more minorities and task the entire industry to commit to doing the same. Please, put your money where your mouth is. It’s not that hard and it can only lead to better storytelling.
Darren: We as a company believe that this type of change is good for us, not ‘us’ as in They, but us as an industry and the whole world.
Mel: By allowing people who are different to you into your space, you create an environment of integrity and authenticity. We bring with us a lived black experience which will reveal many nuances of South Africa to Darren and Al, references and ideas they would otherwise never have been exposed to. And they, in turn, bring with them years of invaluable experience which we are excited to learn from. The more unique and diverse voices you have in the room, the better the work, which is why we are also so excited to welcome Director Wandile Xaba to the They team.