A conversation with the actor and producer Schelaine Julia Bennett. We talk about the journey from dance to acting and producing.
This is a story about a person who had a dream and made it happen.
Schelaine Julia Bennett first hit S.A. T.V. screens as a presenter and one of the original cast members on SABC 2’s live youth show, Hectic Nine 9.
The versatile actress and dancer has since had a remarkable career, acting in numerous local and international films & T.V. series such as Love on Safari (Hallmark USA), Saints & Sinners Season 1-3 (Mzansi Magic), Ingoma (Mzansi Magic), Gold Diggers S2 (Etv) and Knapsekêrels (Kyknet).
She is perhaps most recognised for her roles as Zoë Phillips in Generations: The Legacy (SABC 1), the lead role of Claudette Roberts in Isidingo: The Need (SABC 3) and as Chevonne Williams on Etvs’ SCANDAL.
Her current international projects include portraying Eve in Amazon Prime’s Good Omens, Leah Frost in the acclaimed Red Sea Diving Resort alongside Chris Evans, Greg Kinnear, Sir Ben Kingsley and Michel Huisman.
In 2021 we will see Schelaine in the role of the Comms Officer in the Fantasy/Action Feature – Monster Hunter alongside Milla Jovovich, Meagan Good & T.I. and look forward to the international release of Slumber Party Massacre in which she plays the role of Trish Deveroux.
She has also performed in music videos and T.V. commercials both locally and internationally, alongside Jamie Foxx & Natasha Beddingfield. Additionally, she has had the privilege of being a backup dancer to MC Hammer.
Passion for the arts
Born and raised in The Mother City, from Bo-Kaap to Montana, Heideveld and Pinelands Schelaine grew up having a colourful childhood and a passion for the arts and attended the Waterfront Theatre School where she studied Drama, Dance and Musical Theatre.
Schelaine has added many other skills to her job description, including Casting Directors’ assistant to the international sensational Bonnie Lee Bouman and G Stop Casting before that. She is also the Casting Director of two independent feature films currently in production and Producer of Lockdown Heights S.A. – Instagram telenovela. In addition, she is a certified stylist and an Actors Agent Booker.
At what point did you realise that acting would be a good fit for you as a career choice? Why?
When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being in front of the camera – A supermodel – I wanted to wear fancy clothes and ‘strike a pose’. Little did I know that the performance bug was going to bite me HARD. I danced and did drama as a child and believed that I’d dance all over the world. I was fortunate to study dance, drama and musical theatre, and after many years of pursuing my dance career and the odd acting job, I finally made the decision to hone in on my acting career in 2012. I fell head over heels in love. I love telling stories, breathing life into characters and finding a different joy in being on set, one that still gives me butterflies to this day. Performing is my passion.
Who was the first person you told? Why?
My Parents. I want to make them proud. With performing not being a very respected and supported career in South Africa, I wanted to be transparent, help them understand what I wanted to achieve, and receive their blessing and support.
What was the main obstacle that you had to overcome? Why?
I have always been very optimistic about life and fearless when it comes to following my heart. I saved a few pennies, packed my car and moved cities. I didn’t believe in obstacles but in opportunities. If I want something, I put my mind to it: I did everything in my power to prepare for it then actively pursued my dream.
I was blessed to have a few family friends that offered me a place to rest whilst I figured everything out in the new city and met an incredible woman, who is now a very good friend of mine, who offered me part-time dance work whilst I was attending auditions and getting my acting career up and running.
FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Did you have support from your family and friends, or was acting not considered a good career path? Why?
My family and friends are STILL my greatest My family and friends are STILL my greatest supporters. I am so grateful to have such an incredible pool of people cheering me on. Realistically, there will always be someone who questions my choice. I’m humbled by the critics, they help me excel.
If you could step through a time portal and appear when you decided acting as a career choice, what advice would you give the younger version of you?
What is for you will not pass you by.
What were your objectives when you started?
I chose to pursue acting because I wanted to tell stories, South African stories, global stories, represent my people in a dignified way and be part of a generation that was changing the South African narrative in film and television.
What has been the most rewarding achievement to date? Why?
Every second onset brings my soul so much joy, but working on The Red Sea Diving Resort was an incredible experience, along with playing leading roles on two South African projects. These roles exercised so much of my human being; I was exhausted often but absolutely loved I am nurturing a career that affords me work both locally and internationally. Red Sea Diving Resort and Slumber Party Massacre are two of my favourite international projects to date, along with the leading roles I have portrayed in South Africa’s “Isidingo: The Need’ and ‘Gold Diggers’. These roles exercised so much of my human being. I was challenged often, but absolutely loved it and grew not only as an actor but as a person too.
Can you define the term producer?
In my opinion, producing is overseeing film production. To source promising scripts/work, bring together a production team and secure funding. The producer basically manages pre-production, principal photography and post-production.
Did opportunity find you, or did you have to find it?
It found me. It’s all about work and trust.
If I could speak to your brother/ sister, how would they describe you?
Fun, Goofball, Kind, Confident, Hard-working.
If I could ask another actress to describe your work ethic, what would they say?
Hardworking, Committed, Professional, Teamplayer.
What is the best part of your job?
People, the ones I work with and the ones whose stories I get to tell; playing ‘make believe’ and getting to do what I love. Definitely more than one ‘best part.’
Your Instagram account shows a wonderful work-life balance; is that something that is hard to maintain?
I believe in work-life inclusion. Family and friends are very important to me, they help me replenish my soul, so I always make time for them, whether it’s a quick coffee, a walk or a video call. My work can be demanding, but they understand and support me, and it never outweighs my time with them.
How much of what you do is reliant on social media? Why?
Social media has become a major factor in some casting spaces. However, I choose to focus on talent, work ethic and experience.
Do you ever bring your work home with you?
All my script learning and initial character breakdowns happen at home.
What skill set do you need to be an actor/ actress? Why?
Storytelling is so vast, and certain fundamentals are important to equip oneself with: voice and speech work, scene study and improvisation, to name a few, to strengthen the performance muscles. Other than that, many other skills/hobbies add to an actors portfolio, i.e. horse riding, weapons handling, surfing, yoga, rollerskating, and fun. Don’t forget to have fun.
Is it hard to disconnect?
Nothing that a glass of red wine and a good laugh with a loved one can’t solve. I don’t struggle with disconnecting anymore. There are also tools one can learn to help disconnect from a character.
What does the future hold for Schelaine Julia Bennett?
Blessings upon blessings:)
I’m paving my way towards more local and international work.
MONSTER HUNTER TRAILER
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