Before the Kardashians gave us faux reality and bona fide glamour, people ekasi sat in front of their screens hooked on the lives of another family: the Forresters. And when it comes to fashion, glamour, drama and never-ending romances, no one does it better than they do.
The cracks that would eventually lead to apartheid’s demise were only just starting to show, and The Bold and the Beautiful presented an alternative reality to the average black South African – a world far removed from the reality of poverty, injustice and cruelty. It’s the show the word ‘aspirational’ was made for. But viewers weren’t just passively consuming what they were watching. A 1997 study* on the show’s cultural significance showed that black viewers most enjoyed criticising the show, fully aware of its silliness. Bold, with its set daily slot and comforting predictability, allowed viewers to be experts. Back then, the soap was the most watched show on South African television, and today it still tops SABC3 viewership figures, with close to 500 000 viewers per episode.
(The cast and directors of Bold answer fan questions at The Bold and the Beautiful panel meet and greet.)
30 BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL YEARS
For the show’s 30th anniversary this year, the cast and crew celebrated the milestone in the equally beautiful (and rich!) Monte Carlo in Monaco.
It’s a trip production supervisor Casey Kasprzyk called “exciting but a lot of work”.
The principality welcomed the American soap stars and their production crew to their annual red carpet event the Monte Carlo Film Festival 2017, where Bold walked away with the 2017 Golden Nymph Award in the category of International TV Audience Award for Best Soap Opera.
Leading to the award ceremony, the cast got into the media’s good books as they opened their luxury hotel doors and invited the public to hang out with them. The press and a few VIP guests got to chit-chat with Katherine Kelly Lang (56), who plays the insatiable Brooke Logan; Jacqueline MacInnes Wood (30), who plays adrenaline junkie Steffy; Pierson Fodé (25), who plays flirty Thomas; Rome Flynn (25), who plays free-spirited Zende; and Reign Edwards (20), who plays the rebellious Nicole. Spending time with the cast for five days definitely gave guests some insight on who the actors and actresses are away from set.
(The youngest Bold cast member present in Monaco is the gorgeous Reign Edwards (Nicole) strikes a pose in front of the 30th ice sculpture.)
THE WOMAN BEHIND BROOKE
The most famous of all the faces on Bold, Katherine Kelly Lang has been a familiar face in South African households for decades – she’s portrayed man-eating Brooke Logan since the first episode and she’s got the T-shirt from pretty much any family scandal you can imagine. From stealing husbands to sleeping with her father-in-law, Brooke has written the textbook on it and continues to the fill the few blank pages left. One thing is certain, Lang is absolutely nothing like her boyfriend-and-husband-stealing, love-craving character Brooke. “How many men has she had in her life? I’ve lost count now,” she laughs about Brooke. “I’ve grown to love her and her crazy flaws over the years. But I’ve also learnt how to distance myself from her.”
In reality, Lang is picture-perfect and a student in the art of Zen. She says: “I unwind with yoga and I love being in nature. That’s how I get away from everything – when I’m focused on my inner self.”
Lang’s schedule doesn’t allow for much free time as she’s heavily involved in causes that she speaks passionately about. The actress explains: “When I am not on the set of Bold, then I’m busy with my own fashion line called Katherine Kelly Lang, which is focused on easy-to-wear clothes such as kaftans. I’m also involved in the nonprofit organisation Breakaway from Cancer, which increases awareness and resources for those affected by cancer. In addition to that, my family is super important [she has four children] and I try to fit some triathlons in there.”
Lang adds that she owes her life’s success to the Bold and the Beautiful. “Thirty years! I can’t believe it and I’m pretty sure none of us thought we’d make it this far when we first started in 1987,” she exclaims.
And her excitement shows as she hugs the superfans who flock to her wherever she goes in Monte Carlo.
(Lang strikes a pose in one of her own designs at the Monaco Palace.)
“These people are amazing for turning on their televisions and watching every episode of Bold in any language they choose. They have supported Brooke through all her troubles and successes. It’s great and I love it. I want to say ‘thank you’ to them,” Lang adds.
Lang is down to earth and never seems to too fussed or fazed by her fame. As she explains: “In 2016, we came here to the Monte Carlo Film Festival and our luggage with all our [couture] red carpet dresses was delayed from Los Angeles. Naturally, we were all panicked but there was nothing we could personally do. So we headed over to [chain store] Zara and bought clothes off the rack to wear on the red carpet. These things happen and we just have to go with the flow.”
Lucky for the cast, their luggage made it across the ocean with them this time and they looked immaculate from head to toe. They didn’t just make the trip for an award ceremony though – The Bold and the Beautiful was in Monte Carlo for a spot of work, prepping months ahead of their scene at Monte Carlo Bay.
Bradley Phillip Bell, who is the soap’s executive producer and head writer, said they had shot scenes in Monaco before and “it turned out great”.
“There is romance, chase scenes, comedy and a little of everything, so we’ll see if this year works,” he said.
The scene, which will be broadcast on SABC3 in late 2018 because of the 18-month broadcasting delay between South Africa and the US, features a Forrester and Spectra fashion auction. Representing the Forresters is the trendy Steffy, with the Spectra ambassador role being filled by Bill Spencer, played by Don Diamont (54). While we’ve been sworn to secrecy about the auction’s finer details, you can look forward to the glitz and glamour we have come to expect from a Bold fashion story line.
Fun fact: all the outfits on auction were designed by the soap’s wardrobe mistress, Ross Fuentes, specifically for that scene.
(Pierson Fodé (Thomas) was a hit with the media, the ladies and the fashion critics.)
AN EVOLVING STORY LINE
According to its writers, Bold keeps trying to find relatable stories. Bell recently mentioned that to keep the soap going, he has to have a good time doing it. “My goal [for the show] is not only to keep up with the times, but to stay ahead of them. We may have people over there switching channels, but I’d rather be pushing the envelope than playing it safe.” Earlier in 2016, SABC3 viewers met actress Maya, played by Karla Mosley, who is transgender. In mid-2016, Maya went on to start a family and have a baby via surrogacy. Along with Maya’s story line, The Bold and the Beautiful started a whole new chapter by introducing an African-American family, the Avants, to their global audience. This is something Flynn, who plays the character Zende, feels strongly about.
“It’s amazing to be a part of a soapie that is riveting and has cutting-edge story lines,” explains Flynn.
“The writing team are just ahead of the threshold. I’m very grateful to be here in this moment in time and in this space to represent people of colour on Bold. I believe in diversity and I believe we, as actors, have a duty to put an end to racism and any form of unjustified division among people.”
Zende has close ties to South Africa as his back story is rooted in the country. He was orphaned when his parents died from Aids and he was later adopted by Kristen Forrester (Tracy Melchior) and taken to Los Angeles. According to the soap’s crew, they are intent on exploring Zende’s background and will most likely be filming it on location in South Africa in late 2017.
A GLOBAL SHOW
The Bold and the Beautiful’s 30th anniversary was a massive bash that took place at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel in Monaco. In true Bold style, the cast dressed to the nines and were first to take to the dance floor, encouraging the guests in attendance to join the fun. A giant five-layer vanilla sponge cake was wheeled out later, complete with flashing sparkler fireworks and edible framed photos of the cast. And no Bold party is complete without the perfect selfie photograph backdrop – in this case, it was a giant “30” ice sculpture that magically didn’t melt into a puddle in the warm climate.
Don Diamont (Bill) and Jacqueline MacInnes Wood (Steffy) shake their booty on the dance floor.
(Heather Tom (Katie) indulges in some icing from the 30th anniversary cake.)
Over the years, the soap has filmed episodes in international locations in Italy, France, Mexico, Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, Monte Carlo, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Among the most surprising places Bold has been broadcast are Bulgaria, Fiji, Iran, Lithuania, Palestine, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It’s no surprise that Bell’s parting words were filled with glee: “I’m really proud that the Bold has endured for 30 years. I think we have created a true sense of extended family for our viewers. It’s hard to find things in life you can count on.
- Nandlall was hosted by SABC3
- The Bold and the Beautiful is broadcast on SABC3 (DStv channel 193) at 6.30pm on weekdays
- Identification and Interpretation:The Bold and the Beautiful, Critical Arts Journal 11 (1997)