Cape Town-born actress, Schelaine Bennett plays the role of Tamara in the new IGTV daily soapie called Lockdown Heights. It's a 21-part episodic IGTV drama series which started airing on Instagram on 27 March 2020, based in South Africa during the Covid-19 nationwide lockdown and airs every day at 8:30pm.
Cape Town-born actress, Schelaine Bennett.
We chatted to Bennett about the project and she shares her views on how young actors can help bring change in the industry, especially with regards to diversity and inclusivity.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
I am a Cape Town-born actor, trained in performing arts. I danced professionally for +-10years and am currently throwing my energy into the world of acting.
You play the role of Tamara in the IGTV daily soapie, Lockdown Heights. Tell us more about the project and how you got involved.Lockdown Heights
is the genius idea of actor friends of mine, Ayanda Makayi and Bradley Olivier. It's what we've coined, an Instavela, a mix of soapie/telenovela for IGTV that is filmed during this time of lockdown. Each actor films their scene on their own in their homes. Ayanda called me to explain the concept and asked if I'd be keen to join the passion project and I, naturally, couldn't resist.
What are some of the highlights in your career so far?
Being a working actor in South Africa is a blessing in itself. Working alongside some of South Africa's greats always has me pinching myself.
I grew up watching Denise Newman, Vusi Kunene, Terence Bridgett and the list goes on... and having had the opportunity to work alongside them has been an absolute dream.
I've also had the privilege of working on international sets alongside Hollywood A-listers like Sir Ben Kingsley, Chris Evans, Greg Kinnear and Michael Sheen to name but a few and this also constantly blows my mind.
I've had a very colourful, blessed career thus far, which I am exceptionally grateful for.
What do you think the industry can improve on and how can young actors help bring this change about?
I am a firm believer in inclusivity and diversity. We need to tell more stories about people as people, all people... Let's tell the story of, for example, five friends of all shapes and colours, their different beliefs and sexual preferences, etc. and focus on their journeys as human beings and allow their audience to feel somewhat represented. We need to create these stories as it isn't always what is seen on our TV screens.
Why do you think it’s important for brands to support and collaborate particularly with young creatives?
The youth of our country are our future. We have our ears to the ground and are informed. We have powerful, passionate voices that are able, if we keep working at it, to create change and have an impact.
What do you think is key for brands to keep in mind when marketing to the youth?
Be truthful in your marketing. Being real sells as you're targeting a generation whose eyes are wide open.
Who are some of your role models?
Viola Davis, Shonda Rhimes, Michelle Obama, Winnie Mandela, Women of South Africa... they live and have lived through so much and yet live each day with grace and strength.
What advice would you like to convey to all the newbies trying to crack into the industry?
Put in the work. Nothing great is ever achieved with ease. Respect yourself, your craft and do the damn thing!Lockdown Heights is currently on Season 3 (which started on Monday, 11 May 2020) and you can watch it on the Lockdown Heights Instagram account. You can also follow Bennett on Instagram, Twitter and on Facebook.