Guys, this is possibly one of my favourite interviews, although honestly it’s really impossible to pick a favourite. This week we have both Chetna AND Phill answering the questions for us in completely different ways – Chets in writing and Phill put together a vlog. It’s so cool! Thank you for treating us to something different guys!
I’m glad that you’re back to read the next installment in our series. If this is the first time you’re joining us – WELCOME, it’s good to have you. Here are the other features in case you want to catch up.
Here’s a little bit of background as to why I want to do this series and why I want YOU to read it and share it with your friends. I am one half of a mixed race marriage (if you want to read my story, check it out here) and we have had our fair share of adjusting to this new life that is often not accepted by everyone.
Besides the odd intentional racist, I feel like a lot of the hurtful comments floating around are actually just brought about through ignorance about how their words will affect other people. Thinking only of our own personal situations with little regard for others, because that’s all that we know. So in an effort to broaden what we know, I thought I would interview a wide range of South Africans that have a variety of different situations – from mixed race couples to single race couples that adopt cross racially to couples that share the same “race” but differ vastly in terms of culture. A bit of a mumble jumble of everything really.
If you would like to join in and be featured in this series or know of someone that would, please feel free to get in touch with me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want this to be a safe space where we can share stories and encourage each other to be more accepting of our fellow South Africans of all races, cultures and situations. So while I want to encourage you to comment and open a discussion, I will not tolerate any abusive or troll like comments here.
I first met Phill at a Zomota meet up and he is one of those people you can’t help but get on with – friendly, happy and just nice to be around. Then at another meet up I met his beautiful wife Chetna and I KNEW I had to have this lovely couple share their story with you. So here we go…
- Tell us a little bit about yourself – what you do, what you like to spend your time on etc
I grew up in Cape Town, born and bred, and studied Film and Media at UCT. I was lucky enough to get offered a job in the Film Industry 12 years ago and have worked the industry ever since. At the moment, I work as a booking agent for crew. I love the film industry but it can be quite time consuming during busy periods. So when I am not working I love anything beauty related – make up and nail polish are my creative outlets, as well as writing, cooking, and food in general 🙂
- Tell us a little bit about your partner – what they do, what they like to spend time on etc
Phill is a full time actor in the Film Industry (this is how we met actually), and he is also a singer, content creator amongst many things! He has a love for anything creative, and has exceptional talent. He commits himself 100 % into anything he loves to do. And he loves food, like me, so frequenting restaurants is our favourite pastime.
- Give us a bit of insight into your racial/cultural backgrounds.
Phill is caucasion, born in England and moved to SA when he was 2. I am South African, of Indian decent, and grew up with Hinduism as my religion. I grew up in a small society with lots of family, but my parents were always forward thinking, so I was exposed to many different cultures and experiences. My mom encouraged me to do many different things in Arts and Entertainment as I have always been a creative thinker. I met a lot of various cultures through dancing, music, ice skating, travelling and school so I consider myself to be very lucky to have had a lot of options available to me, even though the community I grew up in was quite small.
- Where do you live? Does how you are “accepted” change when you visit different places?
We live in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town – I grew up in the Southern Suburbs and Phill went to school here. I think when we started dating about 11 years ago, there would be a lot of curiosity about us and people would generally always stare at us. It didn’t really bother me too much, but I did always wonder why. We have only travelled together to the UK and to the USA, and we have never felt stared at or unaccepted. Quite honestly it does feel that we are more accepted when we are overseas, but I think it’s because I grew up in a society where it is generally frowned upon to date/marry outside of your culture – I do not think that it is a racial thing as much as it is a cultural thing. I do hope that times are changing, and that people can be more open- minded, as life is too short to be with someone who does not make you happy, and true love is rare.
- I know babies may not be on the cards right now, but do you have any fears/concerns about having “mixed race” babies in the future?
Absolutely none at all. If we do ever decide to have kids, I would know that they will grow up in a loving home, knowing that their parents love and respect each other, and that they are loved by us. I have never had concerns about this. Also, kids are not guaranteed to everyone, so it was not a concern going into my relationship with Phill.
- What kind of role does race play in your family dynamic?
None whatsoever. Our challenges, even though small, have a lot more to do with culture than with race.
- How have your families reacted to your relationship and subsequent marriage?
Our families have been incredibly supportive of us. Initially my parents had concerns, but more to do with the fact that Phill and I both have unconventional jobs in an industry that they are not familiar with – but my parents love Phill as their own, and our families have ultimately become friends as well. I would say that any parent who has a daughter would naturally be concerned about their daughter dating at all, and security is a big part of the Indian culture. But my parents have instilled in me to be self-sufficient and independent, and as they have gotten to know me as an adult, they trust and accept my choice in life partner. Also, it is impossible not to love Phill! Seriously 🙂
- Are there big differences in your marriage relationship that are affected by your heritage/culture?
I come from a somewhat conservative culture, but I have never followed any rules so I do not find there to be any real differences. Phill and I, although from completely different backgrounds, grew up with loving parents and we share the same moralistic beliefs. He is also very supportive of joining me in any cultural events that I may attend. The one thing that he probably had to get used to was my extremely large family! I have a big and close family who always have my back. 🙂 They have embraced Phill as their own, and he absolutely loves people so has no problems fitting in. Luckily religious beliefs have never been an issue, as we both consider ourselves to be more spiritual and do not follow a specific religion.
- What are some of the ignorant and hurtful things that have been said to you and your husband about this issue?
I am sure that there are a lot of people that may have said things behind our backs, and I am not ignorant of this, however not many have voiced their concerns to us face to face, so I cannot really be exact. Whatever anyone says about our relationship is none of my business anyways!
- What do you think we can do to combat this ignorance/stupidity?
If a couple, who are in love, believe in their relationship 100% , then that in itself will be an example to other people to choose who they want to as their life partner. All you can do is be an example to others and hope that people choose to get to know you, as a couple, as opposed to coming to antiquated conclusions.
- Do you have any advice for those in a mixed race relationship that are facing judgement because of it?
Yes – forget about what people think. I know it sounds harsh, but honestly life is too short to be concerned about peoples’ opinions if they have absolutely no good reason for their criticism. Even if it is your family – if they know you as a person, and they have gotten to see that your partner is a good person who loves and accepts you, then they will come around. You have one life, and your choice in life partner is extremely important. There are going to be challenges, but going through those challenges with someone who you love and loves you makes them so much more bearable.
Now over to Phill:
I hope you enjoyed this installment in the series as much as I did 🙂