Angel Campey is an award-winning comedian, who has performed across South Africa, as well as in New York, and Montreal, and in September this year, she will appear in ‘Lord of the Ribs’ in Nigeria, alongside local comedian, Basketmouth. She recently returned from The Grahamstown National Arts Festival, where she performed her sold out show, Devil’s Advocate, and is also one of the resident Queens on the ‘Kings and Queens of Comedy’ franchise, which tours across the country.
In addition to her stage stardom, Angel has won various awards for writing comedy content, and earned two consecutive Screen Writers Guild of SA Muse Awards for ‘Best TV Comedy Scriptwriting’ on ZAnews Puppet Nation.
Angel was nominated for an Mbokodo Award for Comedy by the Department of Arts and Culture, which honours women changing their industries.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Honestly, I always knew I loved talking on stage. From age 4, at nursery school, when I would ask to tell a story instead of letting the teacher read one from a book. And I knew I was funny, I enjoyed being sarcastic and witty, and the response it got from adults. But it never crossed my mind to be a comedian. Girls aren’t socialised to be funny. I was funny but ‘so what’? So, I thought I wanted to be an actress. That was the only job presented to me as an option for my outspoken outlet. My high school English teacher wanted me to be a writer, but I didn’t think there was enough ‘lime light’ for writers, so I rejected that. Ironically, stand-up comedy led to me writing for TV comedy shows, and winning awards for writing. There is actually a huge element of writing to performing stand-up, so it all paid off. In Grade 1, I wanted to be a French maid because I liked the outfit, so it’s a good thing I found stand-up, I suppose.
Who has your greatest role model been?
I’m going to be cliché, but sincerely, I have to say my mom. As a single mom and career woman, she was always the only woman in her corporate world, and would tell me how men often assumed she was the ‘secretary’ at board meetings, and waited for the ‘real MD’ to arrive. She was always trailblazing in any industry she chose, and is completely self-made. She set such a strong example for myself and my brother. I learned to be self-sufficient, industrious, to create opportunities and invent possibilities when the world offers you none, and to never let the world shut you down, despite how many doors get closed in your face. (I learned everything else from Oprah.)
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from another woman who can?
“Don’t be afraid to fail”. I recently interviewed Dr Tolullah Oni from UCT, an internationally recognised doctor and African woman trailblazing in the sciences. She expressed that women are so under-represented in so many fields, and with society already holding us back, to be afraid of failing means we will hold ourselves back too. That resonated with me. If you’re afraid, that means you’re taking the right-sized leaps. We have to constantly be changing the game in our industries. And that’s scary, but exciting.
What change would you like to see for womankind in the future?
Nina Simone, an American singer and song writer, most famous for her role as an activist in the Civil Rights Movement said, ‘true freedom is no fear’. And women will truly be free and equal when they feel safe from abuse, discrimination, and harassment they currently face on a daily basis. Too many of us live in fear for our lives, even walking down a street, all of us know the vulnerability I’m talking of. I believe that’s the most vital step in future for womankind reaching our true potential.
What makes you proud to be a South African woman?
Everything. I love this country, I love our diversity, and our willingness to engage with each other, and debate issues. As complicated as things are here, I applaud South Africans for our ability to be resilient and adaptable. As a comedian, I get to see a diverse intersection of South Africans, and hear what public opinions are, and we’re all able to laugh and talk about our problems. It helps to unify us. Here’s to all the Mbokodos out there, thank you.
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Photographer: Jonathon Ferreira
Disclaimer: The opinions and views expressed in this blog post are those of the interviewees, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sprout Creative PR.