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Michelle van der Nest, building confidence in young actors

Michelle van der Nest is an actress, dancer, voice-over artist and digital marketer residing in Pretoria, South Africa.

She is set to star in the upcoming action-adventure “The Entity” as well as the adventure-mystery “RCADE”. She is the presenter of the game show, “Geek Stars” and the Acting for Film and TV Mentor at the South African Film And Theatre Academy in Midrand.

Michelle started dancing at the age of three and has training in Ballet, Contemporary, Modern, and Jazz dancing. She was a principal dancer at the Tshwane Youth Dance Company, a Vodacom Blue Bulls Babe cheerleader for eight years, and worked as a freelance dancer whilst completing her studies. Michelle has an Event Management Short Course Certificate through UCT, BCom in Business Management, and a Honours in Marketing through UNISA.

She worked as a baker and event manager before moving into the digital marketing industry whilst also pursuing her love for acting. After partaking in a few short films and music videos, she auditioned and played the role of Mia Anderson in the American horror film, “Hell Trip” by ACT Films. In 2019 she played the lead supporting role as “Stephanie Wilcox” in Patrick Garcia’s American sci-fi thriller “The Construct”. In 2021 she starred as the lead in the American action “Killsite” by Patrick Garcia, where she played the role of Agent Maya.

Q&A with Michelle

I am an actress, voice-over artist, acting mentor, dancer, and digital marketer residing in Pretoria, South Africa. My work week has never looked the same, and I enjoy the diversity that my career offers. Half of my day is spent doing graphics and communications, and I also dance and teach Acting for Film and TV at SAFATA once a week. I then spend the rest of the time working on various acting and voice-acting endeavours. In my spare time, I love building puzzles, doing arts and crafts, watching movies, visiting new places and doing outdoor adventurous activities.

What is your involvement with SAFATA and how does your journey/career influence future actors

I started working for SAFATA in 2021 as the Acting for Film and TV Mentor for first-, second-, and third-year students. I teach for 3-4 hours per week, helping future actors with the technical skills and practice opportunities in order to further develop their talents and passions.

One of the most important focuses is to build confidence and provide young actors with a variety of tools that they can choose from, to be able to give their best performances.

How did your journey in the industry begin?

I started dancing at the age of three and loved performing in the theatre as a principal dancer for the Tshwane Youth Dance Company. Once I matriculated, I started working as a freelance dancer to pay for my studies. My dancing career introduced me to various exciting opportunities, giving me the chance to perform on TV, talk on the radio, and feature in numerous music videos.

Through networking, acting courses, and workshops, I starred in a few short films before attending my first acting audition in 2016 for the American horror “Hell Trip” by ACT Films. I got the part, and after playing the role of Mia Anderson, I knew that this was a career that I wanted to actively pursue.

What are some of your career highlights?

In 2020 I filmed a commercial in which my pet bearded dragon and I were featured. My dad would joke and say that ‘Gogga’ was the star and I was her supporting actress.

In 2021 I was cast as the lead actress, Agent Maya in the upcoming American action, “Killsite”. I got to do stunt training and it was great fun to film the fighting, shooting, car chase, and zipline scenes.

What projects are you currently working on? Personally and with the students

I am currently filming a series called “Geek Stars” in which I am the presenter. I get to explore and learn more about ‘geek-culture’ like cosplay, LARPing, gaming, etc. I am also taking part in SterStatus on Via-TV this year as a contestant.

SAFATA’s Gala Evening took place in January 2022, and now we are preparing for Orientation week, which will commence on the 24th of January. The mentors at SAFATA are hard at work putting together this year’s syllabus and lesson plans filled with exciting practical opportunities.

What do you think FAME Week Africa can offer the Pan-African Market?

I believe that FAME Week Africa offers a fantastic platform for Africans within the creative industry to network and stay on top of the latest trends, news, and technologies. 

What do you think the future of the creative industries looks like for Africa?

I believe that the creative industry in Africa has a bright future ahead of it. There is a current influx of International series and films being filmed in our beautiful country, and we are seeing wonderful growth in our own television industry with top-class documentaries, series, and films being produced. We have incredible talent, hardworking individuals and teams here which will continue to lead Africa to achieve greater heights throughout the various creative and artistic sectors.

What are some of the best tips you give your students going into the industry?

Don’t try to be anyone else. The industry already has a Denzel Washington / Charlize Theron, etc. What the industry doesn’t yet have is your unique passion, skill, talents, outlook, and interpretation. You might just be what we are looking for!

Adopt the right attitude when it comes to auditions. No one really enjoys them, and it is often scary and intimidating to put yourself out there to be judged by others, but it is a very large part of what you will be doing. Instead of dreading it, try to have fun with it. I try to see it as an opportunity to go and ‘play’. You get to step outside of the norm and become someone else with a different background and purpose. Even if you don’t get the role, you are pushing yourself to grow, be brave, and the more you do it the easier it becomes. 

What advice do you have for someone considering a career in the industry?

Anyone is welcome in the TV and Film industry, not only a few individuals that look like models. We are storytellers, and the stories that need to be told and shared require ‘real’ people – all shapes, colours, ages, etc.

If you are looking for fame and fortune, you are definitely in the wrong place. The industry is tough, hours are long, pay isn’t always great, and work is often hard to come by. Your passion and love for your artform are what will drive you and bring joy into your life and career.

Michelle van der nest

What does the future hold for you? – your vision, your dreams.

I feel hopeful for the future and always try to follow the path that Christ has prepared for me. I am not sure where He is taking me as of yet, but I know that this love for acting has been placed in my heart, and I will continue to work hard to pursue this creative career. I would love to run a travel vlog in the future or be the host of a television show. I am excited to see what the Lord will do in 2022 and pray that the right doors will open.

Read more Behind the Scenes here

FAME Week Africa

FAME Week Africa

FWA Connect bringing the Film, Arts, Media and Entertainment sector together by providing creative industry professionals on the African continent with news, trends and in-depth articles.

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