NBA | Lauren Jenae

Lauren Jenae
Images by: Mlungisi Mlungwana | Creative Director Ayanda Sithebe | Make-up by Phumzile Mhlongo |
Editor: Mandisa Vundla


1.Describe a perfect Date.

Give me some Adventure. Take me hiking up a mountain and summit at sunset or lets go horse riding along the beach. What about a game of putt-putt or ten pin bowling? Oh and make sure there’s ice cream involved. It’s that easy. I ’m a simple girl – I like simple things.

2.How did you break into the industry?

It’s taken a long time to break into the industry – it took me 3 years to be exact. It takes perseverance and confidence in your ability. It was an audition that ran 5 hours overtime. I had my day job to be at but I stayed in that audition queue because I loved the character I was auditioning for. I lied my way out of work that day – you know the usual car problems, not feeling so great – I did all that just so that I could audition. It was an improvisation audition and it was for a part on Lockdown – one of South Africa’s most watched television series. I had no idea behind the power of this movement – but I loved the concept and I wanted a piece of it. I made sure I looked the part and that my objectives were authentic and believable. The director saw me push the boundaries and own the space, and that was how I broke into the industry.

3. What is acting?

Acting is many things to different artists. Acting to me, is being a piece in this puzzle of storytelling. It’s re-creating a living, breathing, believable character that forms a part of a scene that induces emotion from its audience. Whether that emotion be merely for entertainment, to encourage reform or to create awareness. I want to make you feel something. Feel something real.

4. Is there anything that you would give up acting for?

When you have a passion so deeply rooted within you there’s no giving it up. It is a part of you. Acting is a part of me and that will never change. Circumstances surrounding this passion may change and lead to other careers but I know that with every choice I make it will be in order to further this craft. Give me a million bucks to give up acting and I will put that into creating a production company that produces South African content where I get to act every day of my life. One thing I learnt early on is that there must never be a Plan B.

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5. Who and what are your acting inspirations and why?

Locally, I look up to people such as Dr John Kani and Andrew Buckland who have shaped the South African industry and have been able to transcend internationally. These performers are role models in the industry. I mean just look at what they went through to get to where they are and their ability to teach and give back to those looking to follow in their footsteps. For me, giving back and guiding people who want to follow my path is extremely important.

Internationally, I am inspired by the legends such as Merryl Streep due to her range and ability to become absolutely anyone. The newcomers, Margot Robbie and Jennifer Lawrence who play the characters, I could only dream of auditioning for.

Finally, South African films and series such as Lockdown, Inxeba, and Thina Sobabili that are pushing boundaries and displaying authentic South African stories in production quality that is comparable internationally. This inspires me; I want to be a part of this filmmaking generation that shocks the audience with it’s content and moves people all around the world even if they don’t understand the language.

6. If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be?

To open up the industry – to give performers a chance. There are too many supposed rules and ways in which to get into the industry. For example to get the audition you need a brief, to get the brief you need an agency, to get an agency you need prior experience or a degree in acting – what about raw talent or those who simply cannot afford a degree. You’re missing out on the best person for the job because of these so-called “rules”. Ultimately our industry suffers. There should be more workshops and giving back not to make money but to make an industry.


7. Television, Stage or Film?

All three have elements that I love. Stage, I believe, is where every actor should start, to learn the fundamentals. Stage is also the place where seasoned screen actors turn to improve their craft. It’s a safe space to play and workshop.

Television is constant, and in South Africa it is evolving. Sure, we still have soapies who use the same formula that they have been using for years, the usual multi-cam setup and recording in a studio that can be tuned into anything. But slowly content is now becoming a reflection of society. It’s relatable and it’s challenging. Series are really upping their game – shooting on location and using techniques from film. It’s beautiful to watch and be a part of.

However film is where the heart is. Mostly due to it’s accessibility to festivals and filmmakers around the world. Now days, you don’t need a massive budget to make a film. You need a great script and creative talents to come together with the same objective in mind.

All three performance spaces are rewarding when you get to perform great content.

8. Three things you want to be remembered for…

I’m sure most artists would answer this question with ”I want to be remembered because of my talent”. We all have talent. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be a part of this interview in the first place. It’s more than talent, or passion and it’s more than being dedicated.

Therefore, I want to be remembered for my originality in creating my own content and giving others an opportunity in my creations. I want to be known as someone who brought something new and innovative to the table and then showed the way for others.

And mostly, I want to be remembered as part of a collective movement that changed the way South African content and quality is perceived. Our films are being nominated at the Academy Awards; our actors are being recognized at the International Emmy Awards. In festivals all over the world people are now able to see South African content. This excites me. This is what I want to be a part of.


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