The Citizen (KZN)

Actress takes the cake

CRIME COMEDY: STAR TURN AS SHE GIVES THE ‘PERFORMANC­E OF HER LIFE’ Character leaves her suburban utopia for a different world.

- Citizen reporter

Cindy Swanepoel won Safta and Silwersker­m awards last year as Annelize in Binnelande­rs, but Christelle couldn’t be more different. When Cape Town housewife Christelle Smit finds evidence that her husband is having an affair with a stripper named Candi Floss, her investigat­ion takes her to a world poles apart from the northern suburbs utopia she knows.

Wetalked to her about her first Showmax Original and what multi-award-winning showrunner Christiaan Olwagen (Kanarie, Recipes for Love and Murder) calls “the performanc­e of her life”.

Who is your character when we first meet her?

Christelle Smit is a mother and a wife. She lost herself long ago in the process; she does everything for her family. She’s just your average Jane, but she’s looking for more out of life. Then one morning, something happens and her whole life changes.

Were you able to easily relate to Christelle?

Yes and no. I could easily relate to Christelle because I based the character on my sister. She’s a mother and a wife and does everything for her family. I just kept thinking: “What would she have done if all these things had happened to her?” because I definitely would have approached it differentl­y. My sister and I are very similar, but we’re also very different.

How did you manage to portray her transforma­tion as realistic and believable, but also with humour?

I feel that everything in life is actually humorous. Everything comes from tragedy and then you make it funny.

I didn’t really even have to play the humour; it’s the absurdity of everything that happens to Christelle that makes it funny.

Your character goes through a hell of a time. How difficult was it to leave her behind on set?

I think you are in an emotional place all the time during this process. I don’t think I ever really came out of it until about a month after I finished shooting because it definitely affects you. My fiancé will also tell you it affected him too.

What was the most challengin­g part of the role for you?

From day one I was thrown into the deep end. Every single day on set was challengin­g for me.

There was lots of stuff I’ve never done on set. I had to dance; I had to dance around a pole; I had to cry and freak out.

The biggest challenge for me was to not have the same level of emotion all the time. I can’t scream every time nor can I feel sorry for myself every time.

So the challenge for me was to just never do it in the same way; to keep the character interestin­g and not make her irritating.

So it’s about the levels of emotions. If it wasn’t for continuity [Marié van Wyk] and our director [Johannes Pieter Nel], I would have struggled a lot. We received very good guidance.

As an actress, I feel that I have grown a lot and learned a lot. I am humbled and grateful. What a blessing.

“Koek” has a stacked cast. Was there anyone you particular­ly enjoyed working with?

Ashley de Lange played my sister and I couldn’t have asked for a better actress. Especially with the type of scenes we had to share.

I remember when I read the text, I was quite anxious about who was going to play my sister because it was such a massive journey that I had to go through with this person.

Ashley is incredibly supportive; she made my life much easier. I will go on and on forever about how grateful I am for her. I love her terribly and she is truly an incredible talent and the best teammate you could ask for.

And then of course, Sandra Prinsloo. I always wanted to work with her.

She is so profession­al, she never complains and she is always there for notes. I learned so much from Sandra. What a humble, beautiful, kind person.

And then my old friend, Jacques Bessenger. We haven’t worked together in years; we did children’s theatre together many years ago.

So to have him back on set... We laughed so much!

And Llandi Beeslaar. Jeez, what a talent.

What was the highlight for you?

I have always wanted to do something involving Christiaan Olwagen and to play a leading role in a series that is so original and different and daring.

It was such a massive privilege for me. It will stay with me forever.

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Thami Kwazi 010-976-4222
Edited by Thami Kwazi 010-976-4222

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