Meet Durban born and bred Josette Eales- one of SA’s finest talents. The gorgeous actress, voice artist and producer has just returned from bursary to the Royal Shakespeare Company in the UK and we went backstage with her to talk life, acting and her love of popcorn…
1. How did your love for acting begin?
I don’t remember a time when it began, I think it has just always been there. I spent most of my early life in the theatre because I was a ballet dancer so from age 6 I was performing on Durban stages. I’ve always just known I was an actress and I’ve never imagined myself doing anything else and I guess nothing else would really make me happy so that’s why I act. And as for love, well acting isn’t easy so to say I love acting would be weird, sometimes I hate acting but you don’t choose it, it chooses you and maybe in that sense it is a love because it’s a relationship of sort and one that will never end.
2. What can you tell us about your first performance on a stage production?
My first professional stage production was ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ in which I played a courtesan. The most memorable thing about it was the audition. I was still at varsity and went along to this audition thinking I didn’t have a hope in hell of landing my first audition ever and so went in very nervous and never the less rather unprepared. I did the reading for the director ‘Steven Stead’ (who is now a great friend) and he seemed impressed and followed with the question of would I be okay with showing my breasts in the show. I was so sure I hadn’t got the part that I responded with, “well as long as it’s not like streaking at the cricket”…the rest is history.
3. Do you have a lucky charm that you always keep on you when you performing?
I don’t believe in luck really, I believe in hard work and preparation and faith. So no I don’t have something I keep but I do always keep truth as my power charm… I believe if an actor is truthful to themselves and their character then most of the work is already done. Oh and relaxation is a big thing for me before I go on stage.
Well short of sounding cheesy, it was almost a religious one. This was a kind of pilgrimage for me, to be able to take classes with Cicely Berry (who I wrote papers on when I was at varsity) and to go to John Barton’s (the founder of the Royal Shakespeare company) house to perform a scene and to have lunch and wine with Sir Anthony Sher it was all a bit surreal. But the amount of knowledge I have gained in that short space of time and the difference to my opinions and methods of approaching text and Shakespeare in particular is just extraordinary. The most important thing for me is I have found a new love for words and language and that is so exciting.
5. Highlights of your career to date?
Winning the bursary to the RSC was a big one but I recently directed my first play just before I left for Stratford and that won a standing ovation award at the Grahamstown festival, and I kind of thought, “Not bad for a first attempt”. Also taking method acting class in New York with Tony Greco (he has coached Philip Seymore Hoffman, Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren) must go down on this list.
6. Favourite local performers?
I have to say Janna Ramos-Violante is my favorite and not only because she is a friend I find her acting absolutely incredible and a master class to young actors. She has the ability to completely transform herself and that is exciting to me…
7. Advice to aspiring SA performers out there?
If there is something else in the world that will make you happy do it… if you like maths become an accountant. However if this is the only thing you know will make you happy then you have to give it everything. Also know that in South Africa we can’t just be one thing, we have to be able to stage manage, direct, produce and still work on ourselves as actors. It’s incredibly hard to crack this industry and make a regular income but if you treat yourself like a business and are always true to who you are. There should be no reason why you don’t succeed.
8. When you are not on stage or working how do you spend your time?
I’m a passionate eater… I do a lot of eating out. I love cooking for people, big groups of people. I go to the movies a lot but my best thing in the world to do is to wake up late and stay in my pj’s till the afternoon watching DVDs or reading and eating popcorn… I’m addicted to popcorn… I think if you cut me open there are popcorn seeds pumping in my veins. ‘Main Street life’ in Jozi city 286 fox street is awesome I spend a lot of time hanging around there at Malva and the cupcake factory it’s a very exciting space filled with creative people and theatre and film makers and just fun company.
44 Stanley is also a big favorite and I do love long dinners at the Attic in Parkhurst.
9. Your all-time favourite movie and how many times have you watched it to date?
Wow this is so difficult as I go to the movies at least twice a week, no jokes, so this is a hard one… but the movies I’ve watched the most must be Dirty Dancing and Point Break… only because I clocked some big numbers on those when I was younger…. top few movies would include, Inglorious Bastards, Snatch, American History X, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Finding Nemo.
10. Who would you want to play you in a movie?
Well Glenn close could do it without even thinking if she were younger and we look similar so that would work… but I’d love Kate Winslet to play me just because I love her work.