‘Genaro’ hailed as a talented thespian

25 May, 2022 - 00:05 0 Views
‘Genaro’ hailed as a talented thespian Jamie Bartlett

The Herald

It took just one simple text to a publicist to finally secure a tête-à-tête on February 4 with my childhood icon Jamie Bartlett, or as we affectionately called him — David Genaro.

At first, I was hesitant (after all he must be very busy) to request for an interview when I learnt that Bartlett was the latest addition to the second season of The Republic.

It was billed as his highly anticipated return to the small screen after he departed in 2020 the role of the ruthless businessman, which made him a household name in Rhythm City. Little did I know that a few months later, the 55-year-old would be no more.

At the request of Bartlett, we met on a Friday afternoon at Auckland Park’s popular The Country Club Johannesburg, overlooking its perfectly manicured sports ground. 

I was accompanied by Sowetan veteran lensman Veli Nhlapo.

Upon arrival, I was understandably anxious. 

I grew up watching Bartlett on television as Mike O’Reilly in Isidingo. “This is huge,” I thought to myself.  While I was swiftly parking my car, my phone rang. It was a number I didn’t recognise.  I picked up, and as I softly said “hello”, a deep striking voice was on the other side.  “Masego, where are you?”, asked Bartlett, who had been waiting for me inside for three minutes.

“I’m walking inside,” I replied. 

He then proceeded to give me directions to the club’s restaurant where he was waiting for me. When I walked there, Bartlett welcomed me with a big warm embrace. 

Still shaking like a leaf with nervousness and a touch of excitement, I began to quiz him sitting across the table. 

He was very nostalgic, offering me stories about his childhood as a playful young boy; reflected on the famous roles he had portrayed on screen and stage as well as how he wanted to become a rugby player in high school but ended up following his passion for the arts.

As we did the interview, Bartlett wouldn’t sit still. With every new story, he stood up and used every ounce of his body to express it. 

It was as if he was staging a theatre play for me. When I took out my camera to capture him, it fuelled his act. 

What a performer, I thought.

We spoke for about an hour before we were interrupted by a drizzle as Joburg’s infamous afternoon storm approached. “Are you satisfied with the answers my dear? 

Did I give you enough information that you need?,” Bartlett asked as we concluded our interview. I smiled back at him and said: “Yes, I’m satisfied Jamie. Thank you.”

Bartlett lived up to my expectations. 

The biggest takeaway from the sit-down was that Bartlett was not only a talented thespian, but he was a gentleman and a master at flirting. Ask around, they will tell you, it just wasn’t with me. It was all part of his personality. I mean, as we walked out of the restaurant, Bartlett requested to walk me to my car. 

I agreed. As we were walking, he commended me on my interviewing skills, and how fun it was narrating and talking about his life. We eventually got to my car and said our goodbyes. “Now, you be good,” he said.

I drove off and watched Bartlett drift further and further away from me through my rear-view mirror. 

Little did I know that was going to be the last time I saw Bartlett in the flesh. — Sowetan.com

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