A well-known face on South African screens, Chanelle de Jager will soon be appearing in Van Der Merwe - the film which brings to life the iconic South African character and butt of many jokes. Marelise Jacobs spoke to Chanelle about how she landed the part and the perks of being able to pay it forward in the acting industry.
How did you first get involved with the Van der Merwe film project?
Chanelle: My agent asked me to send a self tape audition for the film. Luckily I have my own casting studio in Cape Town, so I thought it would be easy recording the audition. Moments before I started the self tape, a water pipe in my studio burst, leaving everything knee deep in water. The practical, no nonsense side of me came out while I had to fix the water issue, and the mindset and energy actually helped me to find Suzette! I sent the tape off, and days later I was called by my agent offering me the part. I am thankful for that burst pipe! It helped me find my character.
“...Apart from being a brilliant actor and comedian, Rob is a decent human being as well. He is an incredible example of the perfectly evolved South African...” - Chanelle de Jager
Please tell us a little about your character?
Chanelle: Quoting our amazing writer and director of the Film, Bruce Lawley: “Suzette is the reason why Van has not been locked up in a mental institution yet!” She is a grounded, loyal and loving wife. Her children and her hubby mean the world to her. No nonsense, no thrills, just Suz. What you see is what you get. And she makes one hell of a lekker koppie tee and beskuit! For her, tea fixes everything.
What was the experience on set like while working with Rob van Vuuren?
Chanelle: Ever heard of Racoon eyes? That was me at the end of every scene with Rob. The make-up ladies had to fix my make-up (Not that Suz really wears any make-up) constantly. The little mascara I wore never lasted throughout the scene, as I was crying tears of laughter. Apart from being a brilliant actor and comedian, Rob is a decent human being as well. He is an incredible example of the perfectly evolved South African. I wish we could open a Rob Van Vuuren Clone Factory – because we surely need more of his caliber treading our African soil. Rob and I also shared a private joke on set that followed us to the last shooting day, but that should not be published. Ever.
“...Being an actor is one of the most frightening careers one can choose, but with the right guidance one can really make a good living out of it...” - Chanelle de Jager
You are involved with many different branches of the entertainment industry, what other projects are you currently working on?
Chanelle: The casting studio, Typecast Casting Directors, is in the safe and reliable hands of my business partner, Martin Venter when I am working on set. We are both actors and understand each other's needs. When we are not acting we are hosting auditions and facilitating The Actor's Toolbox winter workshop. In my 20 years of being in the industry, I've had to figure out most of the survival tools by myself, and the Actor's Toolbox is our way of paying it forward.
Being an actor is one of the most frightening careers one can choose, but with the right guidance one can really make a good living out of it. During the workshop we equip future creatives with a realistic view of what to expect and how to handle every aspect of your career, without sugar coating anything. If you are interested, take a peek on our website www.typecast.tv.
The shortfilm Konneksies, which I co-wrote and starred in has been awarded locally and internationally. Konneksies – The Series is currently being written and will be in production before the end of this year. Exciting stuff!
But, acting will always be my first love. This year so far has been incredible landing two international parts – one for a series produced by Sony and the other for a film co-starring Chris Evans. Somewhere somebody or something is looking after me! I also love to braai. Braai counts as entertainment, right?