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Local TV and film legend Thandi Brewer dies

2019-06-12 15:22
Thandi Brewer
Thandi Brewer (Photo: Gallo)

Cape Town - Local showrunner, screenwriter, film producer, director and script editor Thandi Brewer, often called the "Shonda Rhimes of South Africa" has died after losing her third battle against cancer.

The highly respected writer and producer had a storied career in South Africa's TV and film industry spanning close to 60 years.

Not only did Thandi launch many careers in scriptwriting, directing and acting, but she was also the founder and first chairperson of the influential and growing Writer's Guild of South Africa (WGSA).

Harriet Meier, chairperson of the WGSA, told Channel24 on Monday: "[Thandi Brewer] passed away this morning at around 02:15 after a long battle with cancer. She was in tremendous pain over the last year, but fought and was our pillar of strength until the end".

"Thandi touched so many lives during her time with us, not only as an extremely talented writer, producer, director, teacher and mentor, but also as a friend. Her love embraced all who met her, and she will be greatly missed by many, many people."

"While we desperately miss her, we will also celebrate her life and legacy by continuing her work and her vision. Thandi leaves behind her daughter Cody and an extended family of wordsmiths throughout the world."

Beyond TV and film, she was also a writer and director of numerous stage productions over many years.

In 2018 on Facebook Thandi wrote: "I am in the midst of the third round with cancer."

"The breast cancer metamorphosed into bone cancer attacking the back. Remember the back pain I used to moan about? That wasn't just 'writers back'. It was cancer, which obviously loves me and wants to live with me on a permanent basis. I've no idea how those actresses manage to look palely interesting when playing someone with cancer because I look like hell."

The Friends of Thandi Brewer (FTB) Facebook group shared on Wednesday that she died "at home on her beloved Smoke, with her daughter by her side, her river and her dogs - all she wanted. Thank you so very much to all of you who supported Thandi in her journey with her illness".

Thandi was responsible for the film screenplays of movies like Story of an African Farm with Richard E. Grant, De Gerrie for Hugh Masekela and The Chemo Club, which marked her directorial debut.

Some of the shows she created for the SABC or steered as showrunner range from Dynamite Diepkloof Dudes, 37 Honey Street, End Game, Keeping Score to Usindiso, Sticks and Stones and many more.

As a script editor, she wrote and improved text from shows from SABC1, SABC2, to e.tv and M-Net, as well as worked on scripts for international films and more than 24 documentaries.

In March the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) honoured her at the 13th South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas) with a special industry achievement award. 

The outpouring on Wednesday following news of Thandi's death was swift with Thabang Moleya, co-founder of Seriti Films and director of the film Happiness in a Four Letter Word, saying "A true leader and a legend. Thandi Brewer. Rest in power".

"She was someone who would believe in you and challenge you to push yourself. I salute her and the impact she has had on the industry and the people whose lives she touched."

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