Terry Pheto, the South African actor best known for her role in the Academy Award-winning movie Tsotsi, has joined the bevy of beauties endorsing product ranges for cosmetics giant L’Oreal.
In late July the company announced that Pheto would be spokesperson for the Even Perfect range, a new skincare collection developed for dark complexions. The deal will see her feature in television commercials flighted across the world, as well as print advertisement and billboards in South Africa.
“I can’t tell you what an honour it is for me to be invited to lend my name to such a prestigious brand,” says Pheto. “I think it will give a lot of girls out there hope that no matter how bad your circumstances may seem, they can’t inhibit your dreams.”
L’Oreal is the world’s largest cosmetics house, and the parent company for high-profile brands such as Lancôme, Ralph Lauren and Maybelline.
Born and raised in Soweto, the sprawling township in the south of Johannesburg, Pheto lived in a shack until the age of 21. Growing up, she had a deep passion for the movies and acting. In her late teens she joined the Positive Arts Society’s theatre group in Soweto, a non-profit organisation that drew kids off the street and onto the stage. After briefly studying engineering at technical college, Pheto dropped out to try her hand at acting.
“Growing up I loved the movies,” she says. “I loved the glitz and glamour and the fantasy of it all. I would go to the cinema to see all sorts of films, from horrors to romance.”
She is best known for her leading female role as Miriam in Tsotsi, winner of the Best Foreign Film Oscar at the 2006 Academy Awards. The film tells the story of the redemption that follows when a vicious young criminal known as Tsotsi – which means “hoodlum” or “thug” – hijacks a car, only to find a baby has been left in the back seat. Realising that he cannot take care of the baby, he forces Miriam, who has a baby of her own, to breastfeed and take care of the child.
The role of Tsotsi is played by Presley Chweneyagae, who in 2006 beat Hollywood heavyweights Denzel Washington and Cuba Gooding Jnr to walk off with the award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role at the Black Movie Awards.
From the street to the red carpet
Although the beauty industry is obviously focused on appearance, Pheto thinks was her background, which has given her the ability to relate to people both on the street and on the red carpet, that gave her the edge L’Oreal was looking for.
Her three weeks since the announcement have been nothing short of hectic – a sure indication of things to come. “It’s just busy, busy, busy,” she says. “I have been doing interview after interview, photo shoots and appearances. This appointment is a huge responsibility for me, which I embrace by making sure that my behaviour and appearance live up to the brand at all times.”
This shouldn’t be too difficult, as Pheto has effortlessly maintained a sophisticated good-girl image all her life. She hasn’t let the fame get to her head in the way it does with other young stars suddenly plunged into the limelight.
“When I go home I still sweep the house and wash the dishes. My family are proud of me, but they keep me grounded,” she says.
Being worth it
Pheto joins names like Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Aniston, Penelope Cruz and Andie McDowell saying the L’Oreal slogan, “Because I’m worth it” – a slogan coined in 1973.
“Terry Pheto undoubtedly embodies the L’Oreal Paris brand philosophy of beauty, glamour, innovation and technology, and we are delighted to have her on board representing our products to the younger market,” says Han Lorskens, general manager for L’Oreal Paris Consumer Division.
“She will be an inspiration to all young people wanting to achieve their goals and we look forward to a successful relationship in the future.”
According to a survey by global industry and market analysts Euromonitor International, the worldwide beauty industry is worth about US$265-billion (R1 986-billion) a year, and has been growing exponentially for over a decade. It has been identified as one of the few luxury consumer industries in the world that buyers continue to spend their money on regardless of the economic environment. The largest numbers of consumers come from the US, who bite off a whopping 67% or $177-billion (R1 327-billion) of the pie.
As the pressure to maintain a youthful appearance prevails, health, beauty and fitness manufacturers will be driven to meet the needs of consumers which in turn will see the beauty industry grow even further. Euromonitor International predicts that this growth will become increasingly apparent in developing markets such as China and India, as consumers become more affluent and can spend more money on self-improvement.
According to the survey, the South African cosmetic and toiletries industry grew by some 45% in the last two years. Currently it has an estimated value of over $3.4-billion (R25.5-billion) and it is predicted to grow by 15% to 20% in the coming year.
Locally there continues to be a growing interest in international brands, but imported products remain unaffordable for most South Africans. There is therefore a demand among lower income groups for cost-effective but quality products. The industry is set to continue to grow for the coming five years, with the hair colour and maintenance, hair colour and maintenance for hair pieces, anti-aging, ethnic skin care ranges and spa products in particular showing the greatest potential.
South Africa has more than 140 health spas offering half-day, full-day and evening packages to middle- and high-income consumers. According to research by Intelligent Spas, some 1.1-million people visited local spas in 2007, with the industry expected to grow by 8% between 2008 and 2010.
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