Sunday, November 25, 2007

Be True: Louis Bolling

The Soweto Grand Slam - Tennis and Life Coach & Activist: "Born and bred in South West Philadelphia, USA, Louis Bolling seems surprisingly at home on the tennis courts of Soweto. The kid from the ghetto made good by grooming his tennis and life skills at the Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis Center, founded by the legendary tennis player. After the AIDS-related death of Ashe, he became deeply involved in the struggle against AIDS. Now living in South Africa, his election as Development Officer of Gauteng Central Tennis Association and his involvement with Nkosi’s Haven has given him the chance to stay true to both his passion and his calling."

Louis was another stroke of luck on this Nike campaign. I had met him while shooting for Dazed & Confused:Japan, but wanted to use more of the work he does in Soweto for the article. Indeed, our first shoot together turned into an admin disaster beyond our control, so we planned again to spend a sunset in Soweto as he worked with the kids he coaches. His drive, passion and discipline are immense... but it is not just his tennis and activism that benefits from this. He and I spent ages in Jozi/Soweto traffic, talking how Hip Hop affected our lives (we are both the same age) in reference to everything from early Rakim, Philly's own The Roots, Tumi as a voice and Fresh Prince ghost writers and sampled Clash basslines in his songs.

This time around, it was great to spend time with him again, make plans for how we are going to work again together in future, and to see his connection to Nkosi's Haven in action. I am just glad he didn't go out the night before like Lee and I did, as he would hardly have been in a state to run around a tennis court; as it was, I was pretty broken after my second day toasting in the sun, the first being with Lee, and the third just a flight to Durban away...

Later.





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