After years of being typecast into the character of a “pretty coloured girl,” actress Lorcia Cooper wants to break the mould of what people believe coloured performers can do, with her role as Tyson on hit drama show Lockdown.
Lorcia, who dazzled audiences as Charmaine in the e.tv soapie Backstage, returned to screens in January after a three-year acting hiatus and told TshisaLIVE she returned because she wanted to show her acting abilities in a different role to those fans may have expected from her.
Lorcia said she left TV screens for a time because she felt like she was being typecast and needed to reposition herself differently.
“I needed to be able to know who I was and what I could give. When you discover what you have to give, you become invaluable to yourself. I also think that being coloured in this industry is a flipping hard thing because there are not a lot of roles for coloured people anymore, not on our local screens anyway,” she said.
She believed that coloured performers were often put into roles following stereotypes, resulting in them being under-represented.
“Look at me, 14 years in the industry and up until last year I was still playing (the role of) the pretty coloured girl. I also think that coloured people are under represented. There is no representative of us. Look at shows and there is a complete exclusion of coloured people. First of all try find an audition, never mind going to the audition. And so if it is that blatant on local screens, what about other sectors? My belief is that there are are stories that are coloured driven but all stories can be coloured driven. We are less represented now than we were in 1994. That is the truth.
“From 1994 to 2017 the roles have lessened for coloured performers on screen,” she said.
Lorcia said she knew all too well the pain of waiting for auditions because almost no coloured performers were being cast, motivating her to accept the role of the no-nonsense boxer Tyson in the series about the inmates of a female prison.
“Lockdown came along and I kind of wanted to show people who thought that I was just a pretty girl what I could do. This time for me, I want to speak about coloured people because I know what it is like to sit and wait for an audition because almost no coloured people are being cast. Nobody sees it but I really want to be able to3a talk about it. Let the best performer tell the story,” she added.
Lockdown Season 2 premieres October 9 on Mzansi Magic (DStv Channel 161).