Power couple Shona and Connie Ferguson tell us there’s no behind-the-scenes drama at their production house, it’s just showbiz
DINEO LANGA One of the original cast members, Dineo played Connie’s onscreen daughter, Kea Khoza, but was let go after she allegedly asked for a three-month break to film a movie.
She sizzled on screen as Martha, a waitress who was everyone’s confidante and adviser. She was sacked after reportedly requesting a salary increase.
them. “We’re also human,” Connie says. “We get affected by untrue and unfounded sentiments.”
TO THE outside world they’re the perfect couple – capable, clever and hugely successful. But if their former employees are to be believed, Connie and Shona are a pair of bullies who exploit their acting talent. Over the past decade they’ve produced several hit shows, including The Wild, Rockville and The Herd, through their brainchild, Ferguson Films. But nothing compares to their flagship show, The Queen.
Yet the wildly popular series has been beset by an exodus of cast members, who often leave under a cloud of controversy.
Some, like Marah Louw, claim to have been blacklisted by the power couple. The veteran actress hasn’t set foot on a set since speaking out against them two years ago.
Marah said she was “treated like trash” by the producers when they abruptly terminated her contract.
Vatiswa Ndara also referred to “possible backlisting from the powers that be in the sector” when she penned a scathing open letter to sports, arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa last year to discuss the unfair treatment by production houses, particularly Ferguson Films.
But there’s a reason for cast changes, Connie says.
“It’s less about actor changes and more about breathing new life into the story and our different worlds,” she explains.
“We start by creating the character first, then follow the process of casting the most suitable actor to breathe life into the role.
“We have characters that drive the main arc which we refer to as principal cast, with a possibility of staying with the show for longer, and those
who come in to service a
Their production company has come under fire for reportedly underpaying staff, but Connie and Shona Ferguson say that couldn’t be further from the truth. Ferguson Films even paid staff in full while production halted due to Covid-19.
Connie admits fans don’t always welcome fresh faces.
“What we do is not easy as there are so many expectations from everybody,” she says. “It’s just not possible to please everyone.”
FAN favourites Rami Chuene and Dineo Langa are among the latest crop of actors to be chopped from The Queen. Although Rami was advised by her legal team not to discuss her reasons for leaving, rumour is rife her relationship with the Fergusons became tense after she publicly sided with Vatiswa.
Dineo, insiders say, was axed because she reportedly wanted a break to shoot a movie.
Connie doesn’t want to discuss the details of their departure.
She tells us via email that Ferguson Films is all about unearthing fresh talent. In the highly anticipated fifth season of The Queen, the Fergusons will introduce audiences to a new family.
“We will be introducing a father and two daughters who are going to be a thorn in someone’s flesh,” she reveals.
Like most business owners, the Fergusons thought the extension of the national lockdown would ruin them, but
Connie says they paid the salaries of their staff for April and May.
“Our cast and crew didn’t suffer any financial loss. The company itself took a financial hit and experienced a few losses.
“We couldn’t film during this period, but we were able to continue creating stories and writing scripts. Meetings were on video calls and conference calls. Fortunately, The Queen had shot two months ahead, so we were able to stay on-air.”
She’s thrilled to be back at work, even though the conditions still need some getting used to.
“We have just resumed production under strict regulations, with minimal crew and cast. We know things have changed and we have a new norm. The health and safety officers are there fulltime to oversee this process,” she says.
The Fergusons may be working with a slimmed-down cast, but they’re grateful they’re able to empower others.
“In an industry where creatives are scrambling for work, we are humbled and honoured to be in a position where we are able to employ close to [one] hundred crew, cast and production staff,” Connie says.
“The fact that we want Ferguson Films to outlive us is motivation to give it our all.”