Naomie Harris (Jane)

naomie harris

As well as working on big budget Hollywood Movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Naomie Harris (Jane) continues to choose challenging and exciting roles in smaller and more diverse films such as THE FIRST GRADER. London-born Naomie graduated with honours from Cambridge University in 1998 with a degree in social and political science. She went on to train at the prestigious Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and had her first major acting breakthrough in 2002 with Danny Boyle’s zombie horror film 28 Days Later. She went on to receive further international recognition and critical acclaim in her role as Tia Dalma in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End. Other major feature film credits include Michael Mann’s Miami Vice, Michael Winterbottom’s A Cock and Bull Story, and Street Kings with Keanu Reeves and Forrest Whittaker.

Most recent feature film projects include: Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll with Andy Serkis; Ninja Assassin directed by James McTeigue; Julian Kemp’s My Last Five Girlfriends: and, THE FIRST GRADER, written by Ann Peacock and directed by Justin Chadwick.

Major television drama credits have included: Julian Jarrold’s White Teeth, based on Zadie Smith’s best-selling novel; Peter Kosminsky’s The Project; Poppy Shakespeare:  and, more recently Blood and Oil and Small Island for the BBC.

Accolades include :

2003 - Winner Best Actress at the Monte Carlo Television Festival

2007 - Winner Rising Star Tribute Award at the Bahamas International Film Festival

2007 - Nomination BAFTA Orange Rising Star

2007 & 2009 - Winner Best actress at the Screen Nation Awards

2010 - Winner Best Actress at The Royal Television Society Awards


Oliver Litondo (Maruge)

oliver litondo

Oliver Litondo (Maruge) is Kenyan national who started his career as a news reader for a Kenyan news station. He then turned his attentions to acting and until THE FIRST GRADER had only played minor roles. “THE FIRST GRADER” is Oliver’s first lead role.


Vusi Kunene (Mr Kipruto)

vusi kunene

Vusi Kunene (Mr Kipruto) was cast in HOMELANDS directed by Neal Sundstrom in 1996 and in 1997 he appeared in DEAFEANING SILENCE directed by Ettienne De Villiers, both for SABC Television.

In 1998 he was cast in the drama series JUSTICE FOR ALL directed by Peter Goldsmid, for which he won an Avanti award for Best Actor. He was nominated for an NTVA award for Best Actor for his role of Daniel Mofokeng in HOMELANDS and was nominated for the same award three years in a row (2002-2004) for his role as Jack Mabaso in GENERATIONS.

In 1996 he was cast in two feature films: FOOLS directed by Ramadan Suleman, and Kini and Adams (in which he played the lead role of Kini), directed by Idrissa Ouedraogo for Framework, Zimbabwe.

In 1998 he was cast in A REASONABLE MAN directed by Gavin Hood and then THE KING IS ALIVE, a Dogma production which was directed by Kristian Levring and filmed in Namibia in 1999.

Later film roles included FINAL SOLUTION (2001) and the made-for-TV movie/mini-series DIAMOND HUNTERS also in 2001.

In 2008 he played the role of Doctor Gulubane in the pilot episode of THE NO.1 LADIES DETECTIVE AGENCY directed by the late Anthony Minghella.

He has a starring role in the 10th season of the SABC1 drama series SOUL CITY, in 2010.


Tony Kgoroge (Charles Obinchu)

tony kgoroge

Tony Kgoroge (Charles Obinchu) His film work includes : BLOOD DIAMOND directed by Edward Zwick for Warner Bros; LORD OF WAR directed by Andrew Nichols; HOTEL RWANDA directed by Terry George; HIJACK STORIES directed by Oliver Schmidt; SKIN directed by Anthony Fabian and INVICTUS directed by Clint Eastwood.


Israel Makoe (David Chege)

Israel Makoe (David Chege) is a South African actor, poet, singer and dancer. His film work includes Gavin Hood’s Oscar® winning film TSOTSI. He is a highly established TV actor in his home country having appeared in NO. 1 LADIES DECTECTIVE AGENCY, written, directed and produced by Anthony Minghella.


The School

The majority of the rest of the cast was made up of locals and the children who actually went to the schools that were used as locations for the films. The actual headmistresses from the schools played the market sellers and the old codgers were just that - old codgers that lived and worked in the surrounding areas.