In a one-on-one interview with Channel24’s Leandra Engelbrecht, TV star CCH Pounder talks about her visit to South Africa and playing powerful women.

Johannesburg – Award-winning actress CCH Pounder has been on an important mission in South Africa this week.


The NCIS: New Orleans star is part of the jury who selected the Joburg Film Festival winners. The annual festival which ran from 19-24 November celebrates the local and African film industry.

During the festival, CCH and the rest of the jurors were sequestered throughout the day watching the African films that were ‘In Competition’.

Speaking about what she looks for in an award-winning film, CCH says, “One of the things that we are all looking for are new stories. I don’t think that there has to be a message.”

“There are new stories to be told, and it’s just nice to see that some people were able to find the funds and treat them in one way or the other. Whether or not you had the money to create a certain film in your mind and then the reality is what you have at the end of the process. It’s the creativity of the collaboration of editing, putting it together, the music that works for it to let the whole thing soar.”

“And to simply be aware that regardless of budget, I was enthralled by the story and that it held my attention and that I didn’t fall asleep.”


With a four-decade career, CCH has played a variety of characters from her role as Tyne in Sons of Anarchy, to her role as Detective Claudette Wyms in The Shield – her characters are strong, powerful women.

On whether she is drawn to playing powerful women, CCH says that she had to make a decision at one point in her career.

“I have eradicated any memory of the weak snivelling, crying, beatdown, slapped down pitiful women that I used to play a long time ago.

“In my time that was the norm and I simply decided that representation on television is so powerful and when people saw that you played that type of role well they would say, ‘That is the way they are, that is how it is,’ and that’s not true.”

“I decided that I wanted to do it in a different way, to play women in authority but with substance and flaws. There were other women in the world doing just fine, that’s how the change came about, and I have no idea how empowering it was for people watching, and that is a wonderful thing for me.”

In NCIS: New Orleans she plays medical examiner Doctor Loretta Wade and what she enjoys about this character is that she is multidimensional.

“She has had a series of challenges over the years, not major but challenges enough to see that she is a multidimensional woman.

“I really enjoy it, even if it is not on the page giving her something that makes people go, ‘Thank you so much, when I saw that I never even thought about being a doctor (not necessarily a medical examiner).’

“There are so many other parts to her. She is so compassionate, and I am feeling my way with Doctor Wade in the sense that I am giving her multidimensionality that we don’t get to see about ourselves.”


On advice for aspiring actors and actresses CCH says that it is important to keep at it.

“One of the things that I truly believe is that wherever you are, you should continue working. If it’s a play in the church basement, then that is where you do it to get the practice.

“A lot of people are waiting for a particular moment, ‘If I get on that series or if I get a job with this person’.

“Just keep working so when the moment your call comes, you’re comfortable and you can dash out and do what’s necessary to get the job. A lot of people wait, and when they get offered the job, they are so nervous because they haven’t done anything and it puts them in an unfortunate place. I always say keep at it you can volunteer, read in church or at hospitals, there are lots of ways to do it.”