All4Women is really proud of our South Africans who are making it big on the international scene. We chat to actress Vanessa Zachos about her international career and her charity work in SA.
Vanessa has recently worked with director Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind/ Apollo 13) and actor Chris Hemsworth (Thor/ Avengers) in the upcoming film ‘Rush’ (Sept release) as well as in Canada on the JJ Abram’s TV series ‘Fringe’.
She’s also involved with a fairly new Johannesburg based charity which supports a child headed family who lost both their parents in one year, and is working on a couple of female-driven screenplays, both based in SA.
1. Where are you currently based?
I’m based in London.
2. In your experience, what country is the best one to base yourself in for the most movie roles and chances of success in an acting career?
It really depends what you’re trying to achieve and what you class as success. If you’re an actor who wants to be working in film, television and commercials regularly then America and Canada seem good for that, although SA is also picking up more and more.
I think that America churns out a lot of film and television along with a good number of acting classes, so being there would put any actor in a very busy environment where they may be auditioning a lot and gaining experience quickly.
I was in Vancouver for a short time recently and while I was auditioning for film roles I was also very quickly thrown into a world of regular commercials and television castings and was lucky enough to work on the TV series ‘Fringe’.
However, I think that finding the roles you want to be in can happen in many places and nowadays casting is so international especially because of online services. My role in ‘Rush’ was through an online casting service.
If you want to be in theatre then London and New York are great for that. As long as you do the work and listen to your instincts, you will probably get to the place you need to be.
3. Which one would you say is your passion: film production or working in front of the camera?
Definitely being in front of the camera. For a long time I denied myself the experience as I didn’t believe it was possible to do it. I think this was because growing up I was not exposed to these possibilities. However, I also do love the whole process of film making and storytelling. It makes me feel alive.
4. How often do you visit SA? Do you spend some time here working with your SA charity and on your screenplays?
I’m usually in SA at least every couple years and wish it was more often as I do love being home very much. I was there last year for three months which was fantastic and I gave the first Actor’s Talk at the POPArt Theatre in the Maboneng Precint in Joburg. Previous to that I was at the Durban International Film Festival as I was selected to be a part of the inaugural Talent Campus Durban. The charity is very new and so I’m trying to help in the background, to assist my friend who set it up. Writing is something I can work on anywhere and it requires a lot of discipline.
5. Tell us a bit more about the charity work you are involved in here in SA.
The charity is called One Family at a Time. It was started by my lovely friend Kelly McGillivray and it began after she was introduced to this child-headed family living in Shoshanguve.
These five children had lost both their parents in a very short time. The charity has built them two wooden huts with insulation and electricity and has managed to keep them clothed and fed and going to school up until now. We’re hoping that these children can be kept in education and well homed as long as needed.
At this point I’m trying to assist Kelly in the background to gain more exposure for these children and others who are in the same situation. There are so many challenges to helping and we would like to see it grow into a larger charity in the future whereby more families can be assisted.
The Facebook page with more information can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/OneFamilyataTime
6. Are you single, or is there someone in your life?
It’s a secret.
7. Is sustaining a relationship difficult in your line of work?
I think it can be for some. Communication is key and respecting one another’s work is very important.
8. What advice do you have for aspiring young South African women who want to make a career of acting?
I would say, live your life as fully as you can and love what you are, as these are some of the main ingredients to being an actor. Educate yourself in as many ways as possible about the craft of acting.
Watch, practise and read as many scripts, plays, films and books as possible, as this will inform the choices you will eventually make as an actor. Make sure you train with as good a coach or institution you can afford and once you have studied the craft, learn the business of acting.
Artists and creatives often get lost with the business side which is something you need to understand in order to get yourself out there and seen. We are essentially our own business. Producing your own work is a great way to be seen, more and more actors do this nowadays.
Learn to listen, family is first and lastly, the grass is green where you water it.
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