An impassioned all-round creative, Anastasia is an actor, educator, poet and performer from Johannesburg, South Africa.
Since graduating with her BA in Dramatic Arts from the University of Pretoria, Anastasia has spent many years upskilling and honing the craft of acting, attending courses and workshops whenever possible.
In 2019 she was awarded best actress at the International Arts Talent Showcase. A signed performance artist, Anastasia has featured in several music videos, a proudly South African Documentary, a dance project commissioned by the National Arts Council and most recently, a short film by Open Circle Stories.
An active spoken word performer, and a lover of language, Anastasia wrote and directed The Memoir Monologues for the 2021 National Arts Festival.
As the Founder and Editor of On Cue, a local Arts and Entertainment Platform and Online Magazine, she is always searching for new talent to share and celebrate. Anastasia has found an even deeper connection to the Arts through her role as an acting coach and mentor and is currently the Dean of the South African Film, Acting and Theatre Academy (SAFATA).
It is her aim to guide and support students as they navigate a vast career in the Arts, all while providing a nurturing environment that embraces personal uniqueness, fosters a deep sense of collaboration and community and embodies what it means not only to be a performer, but also an ARTIST.
Q & A with Anastasia:
Tell us a bit about yourself and what your job entails on a daily basis.
Currently I am the Dean of SAFATA – the South African Film, Acting and Theatre Academy, and I run the daily operations of the campus. I organise all its events and productions, assist students and mentors with anything they need, and I also lecture the Acting for Stage subject which I absolutely adore.
Being a leader of an Arts Institution is honestly a dream come true – to be involved in the arts full-time is a privilege I take very seriously. I get to guide young dreamers, help them develop their skillset, and create spaces and opportunities for them to shine – it’s a beautiful responsibility that keeps me so incredibly fulfilled.
I also run On Cue – an Arts and Entertainment platform and online magazine that supports, promotes and celebrates local artists from all areas of the entertainment industry. I truly believe it is my purpose to cultivate community and create collective healing through the Arts wherever and whenever possible.
How did your journey in the industry begin?
When I was very young my parents and I used to hire out videos every Sunday without fail. We’d grab some popcorn, sweets and chocolates and cuddle up in the lounge all day long. Movies began an insatiable love affair with storytelling for me. From then on, I would practise accents, pretend to have conversations in my room with invisible people my imagination conjured up, and write stories and poems in my spare time.
At school I got involved in every production possible – the stage become a home for me; for all my fears and flaws, for all my hopes and dreams – it was the safest space for me.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently directing SAFATA’s annual musical production – this year we are doing Grease. I’ve always loved and appreciated the highly challenging artform of Musical Theatre, marvelled at it, even, but this is a truly new experience for me, and one which I am constantly learning from. I love that about being a creative – you’ll never stop learning new things to improve your craft. It’s such an exciting process, as daunting as it can be to go where you’ve never been before.
What are some of your career highlights?
I loved being involved in the proudly South African documentary ‘Generation Free’ by Honey Bee Films about the ‘Born Free’ Generation of South Africa.
But the most alive and aligned I have ever felt was through spoken word performance. There’s something so special about poetry – I think Robert Frost says it best; “Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.” I adore the way language bridges the gap between our subconscious and our conscious state, and the way sharing our deepest ruminations can bring hope and comfort to the most lonely and lost places within ourselves and others.
I think a turning point for me was when I wrote and directed ‘The Memoir Monologues’ for the National Arts Festival. I got to work with the most wonderful actresses who have such beautiful souls. It was incredibly liberating and cathartic to have a platform to discuss the traumas of being a South African woman.
And the beauty of women – their innate strength to overcome and still choose kindness and love. I felt a deep sense of purpose in creating an original story I truly felt needed to be both voiced and heard. I do believe we need more creators and creations – there’s so much room in South Africa for OUR stories.
What and who inspires you?
I am inspired by talent that is based in a genuine love for craft, by my students who I learn from daily, by nature and animals – so sentient and gracious.
I am deeply motivated and inspired by the power of words when they are used for good. They often inspire hope and positive change.
Mostly, I am inspired by the powerful women that I call my friends and colleagues – the older I get the more I realise how much strength there is in sisterhood. There’s nothing quite as stimulating as conversation with a self-aware woman, and I’ve never felt so connected to the divinity of my own femininity because of those incredible humans.
What do you think FAME Week Africa can offer the Pan-African Market?
Art is a universal language that everyone can understand. I think something magical happens when you bring creatives together physically, in the same space, to be present in experiencing art together. Fame Week Africa is an artistic togetherness that can also teach us different perspectives and zeitgeists which in turn strengthens storytelling.
How do you think we can grow the creative industry and bring African content to the world?
I don’t think South Africa or Africa should try and follow what is happening internationally. I think we should create and embrace original African stories and tell these stories in ways that only we know how – we have such rich, diverse narratives here because of our rich and diverse history. People are more interesting when they have something different to offer, something unique to say. We should keep embracing our own culture within various artforms. Naturally, the world will take interest.
What tips can you give an artist who wants to build a reputation and a career that is going to keep them relevant in the industry?
First and foremost, you need to show up for your dreams. Constantly upskill and be a hungry learner. It goes without saying that one should arrive early, prepared, and professional. But beyond the technical, I think the modern approach tends to be ‘fake it till you make it’ which I don’t believe in.
The best artists are true to themselves and the most relatable art is rooted in truth. If you want to be more than a performer, if you want to be an ARTIST, you need to cultivate creativity. An artist isn’t concerned with trends or relevance. Genuine artistry and ego are opposites – you can’t do or be or create what you think other people want to see, you need to tap into your own truth – that is when the real beauty happens.
The right intentions are foundational to longevity in the arts – if you seek money, fame and influence, you will quickly give up – but if you are driven solely by creating something meaningful, you will always be led by that.
What is your favourite thing about Africa?
Our beautiful diversity because it teaches us empathy and compassion.
Our resilience in the face of struggle and oppression.
South Africa, in particular, has the best sense of humour and is able to make fun of itself. You have to be able to laugh through life. It’s very healing and it gives us the balance we desperately need for all the inequality we are still faced with.
Read more FAME Behind the Scenes here