Arno Greeff On His Career-Defining Role As Chris On ‘Blood & Water’, The Importance Of The Series For Africa And His Next Move

Local actor Arno Greeff is no stranger to the local entertainment space. Fans would recognise the star from his appearances on series like ‘Getroud Met Rugby’ and ‘Binnelanders’ and films like ‘Die Pro’ and ‘Vaselinetjie’. But, it’s his recent performance in Netflix’s second African original series ‘Blood & Water’ that has introduced him to a wider audience than ever before – and the country can’t help but notice his talent.

In ‘Blood & Water’, the up-and-coming star plays pansexual character Chris – the bad boy of the series. Chris is one of the most popular students at Parkhurst High. He has a close-knit group of friends who he would go to the ends of the earth for, he swims and loves a good party. However, he often finds himself intertwined in all of the drama between Puleng and Fikile which lands him in hot water.

As many around the country continue binging the hit series, which has been the most-watched series on the streaming giant every day since its release, we get up close and personal with Arno Greeff.

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What drew you to the role of Chris in Blood & Water?

Naturally, any opportunity to be on a Netflix show would draw me in, but with Chris, the added attraction was playing a character that represents a community of people who are very rarely represented in the media.

In the series you play a pansexual character – how important do you think this character is for the series?

The great thing about the show and the character is that the focus never really dwells on his sexuality. Very few questions are asked and the character is accepted by his fellow pupils. There’s no bullying or funny business just because he is different. This creates an environment where being pansexual is accepted and hopefully through this we can help other kids/people around the world to accept who they are and know they are not defined by their sexuality.

The response to the season has been phenomenal. Why do you think so many people have connected to it?

I think because it’s not an African show depicting our people as poverty stricken, struggling characters. ‘Blood and Water’ has such a universal feel to it and a lot of people can either relate to the different and diverse characters or be intrigued by the gripping storyline. And how refreshing is it to see a young adult drama being led by two incredibly beautiful and talented black girls like Ama Qamata and Khosi Ngema. It’s about time a show like this made it’s way to a global stage.

How important do you think this series and the response it has received globally is for the local entertainment space?

This is massive. Although this is a great moment for us as cast and crew, I can’t stop thinking about how South Africa will benefit from this. The world has now seen the quality of shows we can produce, and have been producing in this country. This will bring in more investment into the local industry and take our shows to the world. Our stories will now be able to reach a global audience and this gives all creatives more opportunities to showcase their work.

What was your favourite moment on set?

here were moments where I’d stand back and look at the chaos on set (TV sets are usually very busy with a lot of people running around) and the magnitude of it all would hit me. I’ve been acting for almost 10 years and that feeling of standing on set about to shoot a scene for a show on Netflix is just incredible. This whole experience has been so humbling and truly rewarding after years and years of hard work and staying dedicated.

What was the biggest lesson you left the set learning?

I’ve learned that I am allowed to dream big dreams. For a long time I’d given up on the idea that I could be on a show that could reach a global audience but here we are. Your dreams are valid and you should not stand back for anything.

Where did your passion for the entertainment industry start?

I took drama as a subject when I was 16 and fell in love with performing and entertaining people. I was fortunate enough to have a teacher who put me in contact with people in the industry and really tried to teach me all he could, so without him I probably never would have ended up in this industry.

Now that ‘Blood & Water’ is streaming, what is next for you?

As soon as regulations allow I will start shooting on a new local film. It’s my first lead role which is super exciting! I’ve also been doing a lot of work behind the scenes setting up a production company so I’ll be stepping into the role of producer on upcoming shows for local broadcast. Then, hopefully season two of ‘Blood and Water’ will be on the cards as well.

‘Blood & Water’ is now streaming on Netflix.

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