Breaking the mould
Did you always know that you would become an actress?
No, I didn’t always know. I’ve always loved the arts, but that includes everything – writing, a performance here, an opera there. I studied drama at TUT, consoling myself that if it never progressed to a career at least it would be balm for my questing soul. In my third year I landed a role in Egoli and that’s where it all started.
How did you get the role in Erfsondes?
After my audition the director mentioned that I was too young for the role. Nice try, but sorry. The actress had to be 35 and I am only 27. But then they phoned me the next day – “You’re still too young, but you have the role. Kate is now 32.”
Did the role touch you personally?
Wow… I received the first five episodes so that I could become familiar with Kate’s character. I feel that you have to love your character to a degree and identify with her for an honest interpretation. There were surprisingly many correlations between us. How she influenced me? Well, Kate’s burning desire is to have a baby. I started dreaming that I was pregnant, that I lost the baby, that I had a tiny baby who became smaller. A bizarre dream almost every night. I also want children in a few years’ time and these dreams started bothering me.
What do you personally understand about the concept of original sin and is it a concept that makes any sense to you?
I was pleasantly surprised with the clever text. It’s an excellent reflection of the ‘vicious circle’ in which history repeats itself in families, and that cycle just cannot be broken. The characters were all developed and well thoughtout – Henriëtta had built a story for every character, even if it was never used in the series. Her excellent research just portrayed the message of original sin so much stronger.
Things like women abuse and alcoholism were never isolated. I also believe in the concept of original sin. My husband is a psychiatrist and in his work this so-called original sin is proven daily.
Would you also like to do stage work?
Definitely! At this stage I just find that it is a question of who you know and it’s very difficult to break through. But (she says with a huge grin) I will make it my mission.
What types of roles would you like to play?
I like realism and naturalism – a good old Ibsen. But you must keep in mind that I’m still an infant in the industry with so much to learn.
Do you have any role models in or outside the industry who inspire you in your career?
As an actor, of course Johnny Depp – his characterisation and the types of roles he chooses are, in one word, phenomenal. He succeeds in being a niche actor who makes box-office hits. Locally I have huge respect for Henriëtta Gryffenberg who has such an extraordinary head for a story and succeeds in putting it on paper. I would like to sit with her one day and see the writing process in action. There is so much to learn.
My friends are also an inspiration. They knew me before I had obtained so-called fame and know exactly who I am. They don’t put me on that false and very uncomfortable pedestal. But my biggest inspiration is my husband. At the age of 30 he has achieved so much. He is ambitious and wants to provide for his family. And we are comfortable together, we can philosophise together and at the same time be foolish and laugh for hours together.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Schweizer-Reneke and lived there for a few years before we moved, first to Klerksdorp, then to Witbank and finally to Pretoria. I had lived in the countryside for a while and I was quite wary of coming to Johannesburg as I didn’t want to lose that sense of community, which had become so important through the years. ‘Community’ is something that makes the countryside special, although the meddling is not all that welcome. I don’t miss that at all.
What would you like to achieve in the long term?
I would like to direct. At this stage it’s only a dream, but it’s something that I would love to do. Bobby Heaney, director of Erfsondes, went to the trouble of showing and explaining the process to me, and it has only motivated me even more.
And then my other big dream. I’ve never said this out loud, but it’s probably time that it was released into the bigger cosmos. I want to make a movie of my father’s life. He died six years ago and all I can divulge is that he had
a very unique lifestyle – I did it my way, as Frank Sinatra would sing.
By Louïne van der Vyver Photo Merwelene van der Merwe