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Great Talent Gets Lost in the Masses of Idols and X-Factor

November 20, 2011

By Meike Mol

AMSTERDAM – Although he is an all-rounder in the Dutch world of acting, it is not hard to identify the morale underlying the work of Raymi Sambo (40).

His multiple performances on both stage and screen all seem to carry a common message: appreciate talent, and value uniqueness. A message that, in his eyes, should be made particularly clear to today’s youth.

His current project in association with the “Kunstbende” is only one example of the articulation of these ideas.

The Kunstbende is a youth organization which seeks to find and develop young creative talent through a national competition, approaching youngsters between 13 and 18 years of age.

Sambo’s role as a director is to take these talents into the theatre with the Kunstbende Theatre Tour.

“I have great affinity with youngsters. I understand their thinking”, he says pointing to this as his motivation.

“It feels great that I, as a director, can now provide them with the same good guidance as I felt when I started.” Still as a youngster himself Sambo started his acting career with the musical ‘Basta!’ in 1990

However, this is not his only reason for participating in the Tour.

A more critical remark reveals some cynicism about today’s cultural landscape.

“Shows such as Idols, X-Factor and The Voice create a massive supply [of celebrities], that makes it seem as if everyone wants to be famous. I find it to be a shame that the great talent sometimes gets lost in these masses. These shows place a shadow on the Kunstbende, where real art is made by very talented young people.”

The Kunstbende theatre tour is not the fist expression of this critical view.

It was also the main message of his 2008 solo performance ‘Zwarte Helden’ (black  heroes). In this play the young shoe salesman Charlie tries to reach fame, but turns out to be much more happy and talented in what he already did: selling shoes.

“The message that I want to get across is that you can be a hero in whatever you are good at, and this does not have to be on television or anything alike,” he says.  

So how did Sambo end up in the world of celebrities himself?

says it was never his starting point to become famous. Instead, he felt inspired after seeing the musical ‘Hair’ and auditioned for a role in ‘Basta!’.“I went for it all the way, and all else followed automatically.”

 So it happened that in 1993 he entered the Utrecht Theatre School. The main advantage of Utrecht was that there he was educated as an actor, but also as a director; both skills he still uses today.

His name was set by acting in musical ‘Basta!’ and television show and film ‘AllStars’.  Only later, with the start of his own theatre group V.I.G. (Very Important Group) in 2003 he  returned to directing.

With V.I.G. it was again a social problem that gave Sambo the incentive to start. In Dutch society, he witnessed intolerance grow.

It was this social unrest that needed reflection in the theatre in Sambo’s opinion. Thus, he decided to start a company with as a focal point the coloured actor: “I want them to play beyond their colour.”

Already five plays have been performed with V.I.G. “I make performances based on my own background, but I make sure they have a universal theme, so that everyone – white, black or yellow – is reached.”

Raymi Sambo was born on the island of Curacao, but moved to the Netherlands in 1983 when his parents got divorced. His Antillean background was the inspiration for many plays.

Sambo finds that for many coloured actors, it is still hard to find a job. “Something changed over the years, but it is impossible to say that big steps have been taken. At most 2, on a scale of 10”.

He himself however remains a well occupied man.

Next to the Kunstbende Theatre Tour, he is currently part of a ZEP ‘MacBeth’ production, continues his part in television show ‘SpangaS’, and played in the recently launched film ‘AllStars 2: Old Stars’.

Most likely, we will not lose sight of Raymi Sambo soon, and find his message repeated time after time in the future.  


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