A group of South African actors and film-makers have scooped second place in the recent international HeardPSA campaign – an initiative which took place to highlight “My Freedom Day” for 2017 – in partnership with global media broadcaster CNN and the Global Sustainability Network.
Film makers from all around the world were tasked to create and submit powerful Public Service Announcements (PSAs) relating to Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery – an initiative, called HeardPSA, that would create awareness on the subject.
The judging panel on the competition included the likes of legendary music producer, Quincy Jones; actor and producer, Wesley Snipes; film and stage actor, Joseph Fiennes, actor Olivier Martinez as well as Feature film & commercial director, Philip Boston.
HeardPSA personally invited Muay Thai world champion and expert, Quentin Chong to partake in creating a powerful announcement, that would represent South Africa in the global competition.
Chong was selected due to the charitable work and efforts he has done in South Africa with regards to fighting human trafficking and modern day slavery.
“I have empowered many women and men through self-defence workshops and Muaythai training as well as actively helping special ops teams infiltrate and take down illegal organisations involved in prostitution and drugs,” he shares.
Chong has spent over 16 years working with the youth of South Africa in his Muaythai Against Drugs Foundation, training them physically, mentally and emotionally to be aware and prepared when confronting dark situations that many of our youth are unfortunately faced with on a day to day basis.
“I started Muay Thai training with him over a year ago and have since felt liberated and empowered when faced with situations that would have, in the past, taken advantage of me. Quentin made a great Executive Producer and together, along with the integral help of Saadiq Behardien and Farhana Parker, we created a strong concept that would serve as the main narrative for our PSA.”
She adds: “I wanted to create a powerful PSA with the knowledge and skills I have acquired through my years spent in front of the camera as an actress – it was now time for me to find my feet behind the camera through writing, directing and producing.”
“The subject matter is serious and important and it was therefore so imperative to me that this PSA was carried out with precision – an impact needed to be made,” she says.
Creating The Concept
According to Hayward, the idea was to show the harsh realities of human trafficking and modern day slavery in South Africa and how it effects the lives of all people – all ages, sexes and races.
“The footage in the PSA is of real gang members, real people and real events that transpired – all fearlessly captured by Kai Linder alongside Quentin Chong, Saadiq Behardien and myself. A valiant act, carried out in order to expose the truth.”
Hayward and Chong roped in a number of local actors, personalities and individuals to participate in the projects including Farhana Parker, Kosta Scholiadis, Saadiq Behardien, Melissa Harribi, Benedikt Sebastian, Charles Tertiens, Kia Johnson, Charne King and Melissa Haiden– calling their project: Open Your Eyes.
The South African team were notified by the projects organisers recently that they achieved second place in the international competition.
“Achieving 2nd place in a worldwide campaign for CNN is just amazing. I’ve heard via the grapevine that we were the favourite for Quincy Jones which is such a huge compliment. We were doing something so meaningful, with the one purpose of sending a message out to the world to wake up and stop this inhumane thing that is happening in our society. It was great to be a part of that,” says Chong.
“Every person involved in this PSA feels strongly about the subject matter and has been affected by it during their life one way or another. I think that is what made our PSA so powerful and helped us achieve 2nd place worldwide. Knowing that such an esteemed panel of judges think highly of our work makes me really proud. Working on something for a good cause to help raise awareness and hopefully save lives is rewarding in itself, coming second is the cherry on top,” says Hayward.
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