© Annabelle Mandeng / Nela König

ALM: Please, introduce yourself to my followers…

ANNABELLE: Hi, my name is Annabelle Mandeng. I am a 48 years old German actress, presenter and dubbing actress that loves to run, workout, paint, cook and live a healthy life with loads of fresh juices!

ALM: Your parents are from Germany and Cameroon – so your half German and African. How do you identify yourself? Do you see yourself more as a German or an African?

ANNALBELLE: I clearly see myself as a German as I was born and raised here. I have only visited Cameroon a couple of times for a week or so in my life as my parents divorced when I was a baby so I don’t have any connection with Cameroon.

ALM: What is your thought about being raced from parents with different nationalities? Would you say it was difficult? If yes, why ?

ANNABELLE: My parents divorced when I was 1 1/2 and my brother 6 1/2. We stayed with our mom whereas my father went back to Cameroon after writing his PhD in economics in Germany. So the only culture we knew was that of my German mother.

ALM: Your mother worked for the German Entwicklungsdienst in Togo. You also lived in Pakistan, therefore you lived in different countries and cultures. What did you learn the most while living in those countries / cultures?

ANNABELLE: What I learned most is tolerance and respect towards different cultures, needs, behavior and traditions. It opened my horizon and made me also understand that I will always be black in Germany and white in Africa. Or simply „different“ in Pakistan. A conflict at first but finally it taught me to be happy with my individuality.

ALM: What do you enjoy the most living about the German society?

ANNABELLE: I love the openness, I love to talk to people openly, to move around in the clothes I prefer, to watch the change in our society into a multicultural melting pot. I love the humor of the people in the north where I grew up and going skiing in the south. There is a lot I love!

ALM: You are an actor, dubbing actor and TV presenter. Which of those profession do you like the most and why? What are the difficulties of such jobs?

ANNABELLE: I love all three jobs but I prefer most to act and dub. Working in the German media being 5’11“ 1/2 (1m80) and black is really not that easy. As an actress I have played in a couple of big productions but only now – due to the change towards diversity – I played a leading role in a cinema movie which be will be out next spring („Berlin-Alexanderplatz“ by Burhan Qurbani). As a dubbing actress I have SO much fun! First of all, the only thing that counts is my voice, not my height, not my looks, not my skin color. Second: since I was a child I loved to play around with my voice, reading out loud, recording, ect., so I simply feel at home. As a presenter I love the intellectual challenge as I work with big companies, the Berlinale, the government simultaneously in German and English and sometimes in French.

ALM: Have you ever experienced any kind of troubles because of your appearance? If yes, what exactly

ANNABELE: Honestly? Not really. I guess because of my height, posture, education and appearance. People think twice before making such a move towards me. Still I have experienced racist remarks, was sometime pushed by elderly men while walking somewhere but it has nothing to do with what happens to others. The only thing that is finally getting on my nerves is the need to explain in roles why the character is black. If you take a look in Kindergardens you can see that these reflects how diverse our society has become This should be much more reflected in the German media. I know that things change but too slowly in my eyes.

ALM: Which advice would you give young black women which would like to work in the media industry?

ANNABELLE: The only advice I can give which goes for any young woman no matter what skin color: rely on your brains, work hard and be respectful and kind.

ALM: How do you deal with people who criticise you?

ANNABELLE: Openly as I love to learn!

ALM: You are also an athletic person. What does sport mean to you? How do you handle your weaker self on days you do not feel like working out?

ANNABELLE: I have always worked out since I was a toddler basically. It is part of my life and always will be. And it is a necessity, too, as my spine had to be stabilized with titan bars and screws. Plus my left arm is handicapped since a major car accident when I was 17. Sport for me is like sleep, food, drink or hygiene. If I don’t feel like working out it is mostly simply due to the fact that my body needs a break. If not, I know that I always – with no exception – feel better after a run in the park or a couple of exercises or what not. Also as a balance to being so alert in my jobs.

ALM: What or which people inspire you and why?

ANNABELLE: I feel inspired by courage, talent and creativity.

ALM: If you had three wishes, what would that be?

ANNABELLE: I would wish for a political and economical change in countries such as Serbia. I would wish for more tolerance towards other cultures, religions, sexual preferences, gender, skin colors. And I would simply wish for a couple of million Euros to support projects such as ocean care and to buy living spaces for myself and my family and friends.

Dear Annabelle, thank you so much for being a part of those people who inspire me. You are an example of a living multi talent and a kind-hearted soul. Thank you for your time and interest. All the best 🙂


© Candy Frankenstone

!!! Disclaimer: This blog post contains ethnic slurs !!!!

ALM: Thank you for making time interviewing you. Please tell me more about you..

CF: I moved to Düsseldorf to study tourism and eventmanagement and after that went to Cape Town for 10 months to see something of the world and Africa. Currently I am back and working in Munich but I am constantly planning my next trip.

Well, I am 25 years old. It is hard to tell you where I reside, since I really enjoy travelling and do not feel like I found my place in the world yet. But I am currently residing in Bavaria. I was born in Baden-Württemberg and I was raised in Bavaria. My mother’s side of the family is Jamaican. Therefore, I consider myself a Jamaican. Although, other Jamaicans call me German since I was born here. The Germans though always ask me where I am from, therefore in their minds I can’t be German. “How can a black person be German?”

What might also be interesting for you is that I actually spent my first 6 years living in small Bavarian villages and went to a boarding school in Allgäu from age 11 to 14. Therefore, I first got in contact with black people especially African culture when I moved to Augsburg with 14. That also was the time when I made the conscious decision to go find black people and see if I feel more welcome or at home while being with them. Conclusion yes and no. There are certain personal traits that I do share with them and then there are certain things that are just very strange to me and unwelcoming. That is probably also the main reason why I do not consider myself an African either. I am Jamaican and feel most at home while being around Caribbean or Latin people.

ALM: The topic of this interview is racism (especially as a German with a darker skin). Please tell me more about your experiences in Germany regarding racism…

CF: The first thing I have to say is, I do not consider myself a German even though I was born and raised here. I will not deny that I do have German tendencies, I still don’t call myself German.

I also have not experienced too much racism in Germany, I have heard the word „nigga“ once or twice in my life while I was walking past (mainly teenagers or children) but if you get offended by a small child calling you names when you reach a certain level of experience you might have some thinking to do. Why does something a small child get you emotional?

Anyways, as I said, I was raised in small Bavarian villages therefore there where many elderly people saying things like “Oh look at this cute Neger Baby” or “Ah du meinst das Neger Kindle.” (engl.: Ah, you mean this Nigger child). I also know the song “10 kleine Negerlein” all of that was part of me growing up but I also always had a strong mother who wouldn’t let anybody call me “Neger” sometimes she would argue with the people. But most of the time, I remember her just being like “do not say that” most of the time the elders would ask “but why cannot we say that” or “Oh, we did not mean no harm, that’s just how we say it” But my mother would not accept that. She well argue/educate the people why it is wrong or hurtful to say these things. I adapted that and I believe that is one off the reason why, when I think of racism in my life, I do not get upset. I just know that I choose my battles wisely and I will not put myself in harm’s way to prove a point. I will not bend my back to make people think differently. I will always try but as soon as I feel like the person standing in front of me does not want to understand I do not go any further. My time and my energy is too valuable to waste on anything or anybody who refuses to change his/hers point of view.

ALM: What do you do when people judge you because of your skin colour?

CF: It always depends on who it is and how they judge me. When it is in a work environment I just work 100% harder than my “white” colleagues. When it happens during my spare time it also depends on who is in front of me. Usually, I am all about love and education but if I feel like the person I am talking to does not want to learn, is just stuck in his/her believe and does not care about seeing the others persons perspective. I do not argue. I do not educate. I just keep my distance.

ALM: What would you like to advice other people who are facing racism in the German society?

CF: Do not bow down. Do not be afraid to speak up. But be smart and know when to hold your tongue. Also do not get upset right away. There are many very uneducated people in this world. Which just need to understand where they are wrong and I always find switching positions and showing them what it feels like being at the receiving end of racism is always the best way to let them understand. I am not talking about bullying, I mean, speak to each other and keep calm, keep your cool. Also it helps putting yourself in that persons shoe. Imaging not knowing. If you think about what the media says or what the typical stereotypes are you might understand why the person thinks the way s/he is thinking especially if they have never talked to a black person.

ALM: Do you think there is something positive of being offended racially? If yes, what exactly?

CF: No! If there is anything you can take out of it is, you learn how to work harder, how to read people faster and how to keep yourself cool even if you feel like going to war. But not everybody gets out stronger, many people breake and many just become angry.

ALM: What would you like to say to the black community living in Germany?

CF: Love more. Stop being so strict to your own people. Do not project your feelings and experience onto others. Do not envy an others persons success. Find happiness for your black community even if you do not agree with how they find their happiness.

ALM: What would you like to change in the German society if you could? And why?

CF: I would get rid of the envy. Maybe also of self-hatred for some, or let me put it this way, I would emphasize self-love.

ALM: I was searching for someone who faced racism in the German society, why did you volunteer?

CF: Because I felt like many people that volunteer will only focus on how bad they have been treated and on the negative. But I feel like you need to see the light in the dark in order to change anything. Just complaining and pointing the finger does not help anybody. If you want the world to change. You have to be the change in the world you want to see first! I am not blaming the black community nor am I saying it is there fault, racism exists. I mean, we in Germany for the most part are not facing racism nearly as hard as most other parts of the world. So don not focus on the bad things that are happening around you. Focus on the good things that you see and embrace them. Do not let the darkness swallow you. Be the light!

ALM: What can German citizens do regarding racism?

CF: Stop assuming every black person is an asylee, since there are so many in Germany now. Also do not let the first word you say to us be in English, French or any other foreign language when we are in Germany. Also when you are abroad, do not forget that you also do have black people in Germany. I was working for a Hotel in Jamaica for a few months and obviously I was advised to cater to the German guests. Every single one of them was shocked by how good my German was and did not seem to grasp the fact that I was born in Germany. That is very rude! Also maybe be more open minded and do not blindly believe everything you see on TV or what your colleagues tell you after visiting one country in Africa for a few weeks where the main part of the trip they have been in a hotel. Talk to foreigners, you might learn something interesting!

ALM: If you had 3 free wishes, what would they be?

CF: I dont wish for much. I like money 🙂 But regading racism, I only have two wishes: Talk to each other and listen to each other.

Thank you Candy, for speaking up about the issue of racism in the German society and your honesty. Your way of facing racism inspired me very much  and I hope some people follow you as an example.