Cape Town Lately’s Gareth Duncan chats to local actress Roxane Hayward about her exciting releases coming out in 2017 and 2018, having worked on TV and film since a young age.
You have been acting since a very young age. Tell us about your first acting gig in South Africa?
My first official on-screen acting gig was for the SABC and CBC medical drama “Jozi H”. I played the role of Daphne – a troubled teen who was rushed into hospital after a drug overdose – the complete opposite to the goodie two-shoes I was growing up [laughs]! It was such an exciting time for me. Not only was I able transform into a character that was so different to myself, but I also worked with an incredible director Thabang Moleya on a show that was exciting for the South African industry as a whole… which was also a co-production with Canada.
Having worked on SA TV shows such as “Isidingo” and “Jozi H,” how did this help you forge a full-time career as an actor?
It gave me a taste of the industry at a young age, which confirmed that working in the film industry is what I want to do with my life. It’s important to have a childhood dream, but sometimes the reality of making that dream come true through hard work (minus all the glitz and glam) can be off-putting for some. But for me, that’s the part I love the most – dedicating every moment to my craft with long hours on and off set. Knowing that I love all aspects of an acting career is what made me pursue it confidently without a doubt in my mind.
What’s been the best lesson you’ve been taught as an actor?
I think the biggest lesson I’ve learnt would be dealing with rejection. In most other industries, people will go for a few job interviews, land a position at a company and sign a contract that will cover them for x amount of time. As an actor, life is a constant job interview. That’s where the work is. Getting the role and being on set is the reward. I’ve missed out on roles because I wasn’t the right look – I was either too tall, too young and even because I reminded the director of someone he didn’t particularly like. It’s about dealing with that rejection, brushing it off, not talking it personally and moving on to the next audition.
You have seemed to made a household name internationally with your stellar body of work as an actor. What’s been some of the most memorable roles you’ve enjoyed?
Ah, thanks for the compliment. I think a role that sticks out for me is “Angelica Visconti” on the BBC series “Leonardo”. It was one of those roles that every little girl dreams to play – a princess, wearing delicate costumes with intricate hairdos and beautiful make-up. Each scene was so different from the next; whether it was humorous, action-packed or somber and I really learnt a lot about the craft of acting and what personally works for me. I also made great friends with some of the other actors… we became a family on set and still keep in touch to this day. Another role would include “Caroline” in ‘Accident’ – my goodness! We shot under tough conditions – cold, wet, night shoots in the middle of winter. What an experience! And I did my own stunts, which was so rewarding.
“Saints and Strangers” is one of your most career-defining acting gigs. What was it like shooting the series and what was it like to go and attend the premier in Hollywood?
“Saints and Strangers” was a lot of fun to shoot. I had just come off set from “Accident” where I played a young, fun loving, “not afraid to show some skin” girl. So the contrast to playing a pregnant woman in the 1600s was huge – some of the film crew who worked on both productions didn’t even recognise me! Attending the premiere was such a special time. It was my first visit to Los Angeles and my first time on a Hollywood red carpet. Did I have stars in my eyes? Definitely! The whole red carpet process lined with press asking questions and photographers snapping away is exhilarating – that in itself felt like a scene straight out of a movie.
We hear you’re very busy with a host of international roles and work. What can we expect from you in 2017?
2017 is an exciting year! There are a few things in the pipeline, which I can’t wait to get started on, as well as the release of “Accident” and “Blood Drive” – The Universal Cable grindhouse style series.
“Accident” was shot in South Africa with a few other local actors in the cast. Do you feel the South African acting scene is finally getting the international credit it deserves?
Definitely! It was one of the first international productions shot in South Africa where all of the leads were played by South Africans – myself, Stephanie Sheild, Ty Keogh and Keenan Arrison. South African actors have had great opportunities playing supporting roles, guest roles and a lead role here and there, but I think “Accident” definitely proves that the entire production can be be held together by a fully South African cast. We’ve got the work ethic, the talent and the accents spot on. And we really make the most out of the opportunities given to us. I’m hoping we see a lot more of this in the future.
Other than being an actress, you’re also very much a fitness fundi. How do you stay in shape for your roles?
I am, indeed! I used to train in dancing quite avidly and got to a really high professional level in my modern, tap and ballet. I’m a qualified dance teacher too, believe it or not. I also absolutely love Muay Thai. I train with two-time world champion Quentin Chong when possible and have seen an incredible change in my body since I’ve started. It’s also an additional skill and helps with fight choreography for different roles. I think that’s the thing I like the most about it – I’m working out while learning how to defend myself and adding to my skill set. I also eat healthy; nothing refined, processed and definitely no sugar – unless it’s birthday cake… then it doesn’t count [laughs]!
What does a typical day look like for you when you’re on set?
A typical day starts with a typical evening – a good night’s rest, which I really need to keep my energy levels up during a long day on set. I then wake up, make myself a cup of coffee (the stronger the better), wash my hair (which takes forever because of all my curls and knots) and then either get picked up by production or drive myself in – some good tunes playing in the background. Then, once I’m on set, the fun begins. Hair, make-up and wardrobe, where I am transformed from a blank canvas into the character, followed by being rushed to set where we’ll first read through the scene with the director, block our actions and movement, rush back for final touches on hair and make-up and then rush back to shoot. Lots of people say it’s a “hurry up and wait” business… somehow, I’ve never quite experienced the “wait” side to it. It’s always go go go! And I love every moment.
We’d love to have you name drop some of your international co-stars you’ve worked with and what it’s been like for you to work along side them?
Ah, where do I begin! I’ve been really lucky to work with some really great people and big names – you always learn so much from them and their attitude towards the business. Anna Camp on “Saints and Strangers” was such a lady and a dream to work with. Danny Trejo on “Death Race” had such a friendly energy and made everyone around him feel like THEY were the star. Ray Stevenson also on “Saints and Strangers” became a mentor and always offered useful and insightful advice while keeping things fun.
What are your short- and long-term goals?
My goal has always remained the same – to be successful in what I do and continue with that success. And success for me isn’t fame… it’s being on set and working. The more I do that, the more successful I feel. Sure, fame can help with getting more work, but it’s never been the end goal for me. Fame is rather something that can help me achieve my goal, which is constant work on beautifully-made productions.
What advice do you have for aspiring actors?
Keep on pushing. Dedicate every action and every moment to achieving your goal. Get good representation – an agent who you can work with as a team. And don’t give up – build your strong foundation with the bricks that are thrown at you.