Actor Slimdope out to break stereotypes about coloured communities in Die Hustle film

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Jerome takes it upon himself to change the narrative about coloured communities and motivate children in townships through his acting.
Jerome takes it upon himself to change the narrative about coloured communities and motivate children in townships through his acting.

He successfully pulls off a Cape flat gangster act in any storyline. By fusing Afrikaans with kasi language, he makes you believe that a butcher knife is about to come out of a pocket and someone’s life could be on the line instantly.

We have gotten to know him in chains, ready to intimidate on Generations, Rhythm city and Skeem Saam.

Jerome du Plooy, also known as Slimdope, now takes the lead role in a new local movie called Die Hustle (The Hustle), something he knows all too well.

Before the big screens, the Soweto-born actor started off as a presenter on a community radio station called Eldos FM and he went on to host the BBall show on SABC 1 and then became the MC for NBA programmes overseas for about six years.

When he’s not on set wearing his actor hat, he’s delivering motivational talks, mentoring, TV presenting and being an ambassador in what he prides himself in - education.

Because he knows how hard it is to get through school with little to no money to get by, he is grateful of the opportunity to be a Boston media house ambassador who is involved in giving out bursaries to students who cannot afford to study further.

In the new movie, he takes the hustle just as serious.

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Speaking about his character being an emulation of his own life, he says, “I am a son to my mother, my mother has cancer in the film, so it was kind of deep and relatable because my mom passed on, she was very sick.

“The movie is called Die Hustle because we do every hustle you can think about in the hood. We’re hustling to get a car wash and a chesa nyama in the community.”

With every way of making a living on the streets, his friend who is played by Dimpie Dimpopo, tags along.

Somewhere along the line, they fall victim to a scammer who tries to get his way with their earnings.

“We start robbing churches and taking tithe money from all these churches for our dream,” he says.

Like him, his character is stubborn and fights with his mother all the time over church because he is fixed on his hustle.

Jerome and the director of Skeem Saam Ricardo Klassen, with whom he worked with on the film, want to reach young children especially in townships.

For them, it’s about showing kids that there are choices – there are situations that present itself in life and when you make the wrong choices, you will end up in the wrong places.

“You don’t have to do drugs all the time, you don’t have to wait for somebody to do something for you. You can go out there, you can hustle and with the right people around you, you can be successful.

“It’s breaking a lot of stereotypes to say that not every coloured person is a gangster [and] a drug dealer. There are people who have business mindsets, there are people who are building up the community,” he adds.

Of all the scenes he played in the film, his greatest was when it involved his character’s mother dying of cancer. Because he also recently lost his mother, the crew members were scared of what would unfold with the fresh wound.

The scene took him back to the day he lost his mother and he let out all the tears and unleashed the emotions that were triggered by the pain.

Taking us back to the fateful day, he says, “On the final day of my shoot on Ngempela (a SABC docu-drama series), we were shooting in my street [where I grew up] and that’s the day my mother called me [for the last time because] she died later that night.”

He believes a lot of people are going to resonate with the scene because almost everyone has lost someone they love at one point or another in their lives.

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“It’s hard to play yourself because even in Nikiwe (Etv’s new soapie), I play Lorcia Cooper’s brother, Jerome. It’s yourself but you’re always trying to figure out how can I show who I am [better] because a lot of people already know who you are so it’s about the different aspects of yourself.”

He adds that, “I grew up hustling, trying to do stuff for my mother and brother who passed on from drugs, trying to be that ultimate hustler so I think for me [more than anything], it was just about finding out how great I can become and how to become the ultimate hustler I always wanted to become.”

The Kliptown hustler tells Drum that he is grateful that he was surrounded by people who had a positive impact on him and that’s a blessing that he never took for granted because it helped him breakthrough into the mainstream arts industry.

With the help of his mother, he steered his focus to basketball and radio and that is how it all began for him.

Although he places the rest of his journey in God’s hands, he bosses up every character he plays and always aims to teach.

Besides the film showing at the Crystal church, south of Johannesburg on 1 July, Jerome is in a few other new productions including Onse Kasi which is airing on SABC 2, this Sunday 28 May and Nikiwe.

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