‘Skemerdans’: Vinette Ebrahim

Image: Showmax/Supplied

‘Skemerdans’: Vinette Ebrahim on whoddunit set at Galaxy

Showmax caught up with Vinette Ebrahim to find out more about the groundbreaking series, ‘Skemerdans’.

‘Skemerdans’: Vinette Ebrahim

Image: Showmax/Supplied

Skemerdans, the new Showmax Original, is now available to binge. Directed by Amy Jephta and Ephraim Gordon, the Cape Flats neo-noir murder mystery is set at the Oasis jazz club, the centre of a power struggle between two brothers, a scorned widow and an organised crime syndicate. 

About Skemerdans

The 13-part half-hour series revolves around the Fortune family, played by SAFTA winners Kevin Smith (Isidingo, Arendsvlei), Ilse Klink (Stroomop, Isidingo), and Brendon Daniels (Four Corners, Sara se Geheim, Arendsvlei);  Ceagan Arendse (Suidooster, Arendsvlei), who tragically passed away in February 2021; rising star Trudy van Rooy (Die Byl, Slot, Sara se Geheim, Projek Dina); Carmen Maarman (Arendsvlei, Getroud Met Rugby); and SAFTA nominee Vinette Ebrahim (7de Laan, Binnelanders, Swirl). 

Image: Showmax/Supplied

Showmax caught up with Vinette, who’s best known as everyone’s favourite aunty, 7de Laan’s Charmaine Beukes, to find out more about the groundbreaking series. 

How would you describe Skemerdans?

Skemerdans deals with the underbelly of Cape Town and what that beast has to offer. It is noir, and it deals with not just your ordinary gangster “ek skiet vir jou, jy skiet vir my” story, it deals with family gangsterism. You might think it’s an ordinary story but there are a lot of twists and turns and the outcome is very surprising. It’s going to be one of the most exciting whodunnits and you’re not going to want to miss an episode.

Tell us about your character, Mercia Fortune. 

I play the mother of the owner of the nightclub, Glenn Fortune (played by Kevin Smith). Mercia is a tigress when it comes to her family, but only about those who are her blood family. As the story unfolds, you see as she becomes more and more involved in the family business. Without giving away too much of the story, her nickname was “Mama Mafia”, so I’m just going to leave that with you… She does whatever she needs to protect her family.

What attracted you to this role?

Firstly, I really love working with Amy Jeptha and Ephraim Gordon: I would sell my teeth to be in a production with them. They are just such fantastic producers and writers and they have been extremely kind to involve me in three of their productions so far, and it’s been an amazing journey. I love the way they work and I love how they are so careful about everyone. They take care of their people. So it wasn’t even a question of, “Will I be a part of it?” When they said they were doing it, I said I wanted to be a part of it so I don’t think they had a choice.

How is this role different from the characters you’ve played before?

It’s interesting because she has to use all the weapons in her arsenal, even though she claims to be a grand lady. She’s involved in the church and all the charities but she knows what the street beat is. She keeps herself involved in what’s going on. She might not say a lot about what she knows and how she knows it but she takes charge in a way that people don’t expect her to take charge.

When you were working on the character, did you base it on people who you’ve met in your life? Or was it purely just what was on the page?

Funny enough, many years ago, I met somebody who was not as uppity as this character, but, unbeknownst to me at the time, she was a drug dealer’s wife. I actually went to their home and I spent a beautiful day with this couple. It was a normal middle-class home, with a little bit of opulence. I heard later on that she was actually the person in charge of running the drug den and I was shocked to my shoes. So I based my character a little bit on this woman.

Why do you think people should watch Skemerdans?

It’s made in South Africa but it can hold its own against any international whodunnit. I feel like it has all the makings of a very good hardcore street series. It has a wonderful cast and I think people are going to enjoy it and be proud of the fact that we are telling our own stories. It’s stories written for our people by our people but I think it is going to resonate with a whole lot of people.

And it’s shot in the Galaxy night club, which is one of the heritage places, as far as I’m concerned, with regards to Cape Town jazz. 

What was it like to film in Club Galaxy?

Look, I think anyone in my age group grew up with the Galaxy. If walls could talk, the Galaxy could probably throw out lots and lots of secrets. 

When we shot there, it felt weird being back. Even the smell of the place is the same. Anyone who went there as a regular would recognise which corner was which, and which table is which. So Skemerdans is going to bring back a lot of memories.