Kim Engelbrecht gets biggest recognition of her career

International Emmy Awards nomination a highlight of 20 years of acting

Masego Seemela Online journalist
Kim Engelbrecht takes a trip down memory lane with some of her most memorable TV roles.
Kim Engelbrecht takes a trip down memory lane with some of her most memorable TV roles.
Image: Supplied.

With a career spanning over 20 years, from Isidingo to Reyka and Raised by Wolves, Kim Engelbrecht is getting the biggest recognition of her career with her first International Emmy Award nomination.

For her titular role in Reyka, Engelbrecht is nodded for Best Performance by an Actress against English actor Celine Buckens, Brazilian star Letícia Colin and French leading lady Lou de Laâge.

The M-Net drama is also nominated for Best Drama Series. The winner will be announced on November 21 in New York City. Engelbrecht takes SMag on a trip down memory lane.

How do you feel about your International Emmy nomination?

It means so much more to me than you could ever imagine. I feel privileged and proud to be nominated for such a prestigious award. Becoming an actor was the most natural decision to make but there have been many times in my journey when I doubted myself and my capabilities. This nomination is a sign that I am on the right path while doing what I truly love.

Image: Supplied.

Do you think the nomination has been a long time coming?

To receive validation for work done is an honour. There are many times on the journey that you doubt yourself, with all the victories there have also been disappointments. You do countless auditions and prepare yourself the best you can but you don’t always get all the jobs you want ... I guess you get better at dealing with it. You become more resilient.

What was it like playing Reyka?  

I had to come to terms with Reyka making intensely questionable decisions in her personal life, some of her choices make no sense at times but her essence is genuine and pure. I am always on the side of the characters I play as her intentions are intrinsically good. 

When I re-examine her she still feels like a lost, scared and confused 12-year-old girl. The girl had to grow up fast and had to negotiate survival with a deranged man who held her hostage. Due to this, all of her relationships are confusing and convoluted.  

What was the most memorable thing about shooting the series?  

I remember arriving on set the very first day of shooting Reyka. Our location was a working banana plantation and it was an evening shoot. I noticed a man on set with a picture of a snake on the back of his T-shirt, I asked the producer who the man was and why he was there, and she calmly indicated that he will be joining us for the duration of the shoot – his name was Solly, the on-set snake wrangler. You immediately are humbled by the fact that you’re in a natural environment and we were mere visitors.

Image: Supplied.

Over two decades of acting, how would you describe your journey?

 I did my first play when I was six years old. I did my first international film when I was 12.  I then delved into the presenting world and did live TV for a while which I loved and then started doing soapies. I’ve worked in comedy writing and theatre. I even did the pantomime which I think is one of the toughest forms of theatre – 81 shows over the Christmas season. I count myself extremely fortunate to have had a chance to work in all these creative fields. 

What has been your most memorable role to play and why?

I was 12 years old when I did my first film which was a story about a 12-year-old swimmer who swims a 35km race from Capri to Napoli. I got to film in Italy and Namibia. This was a mind-blowing experience for me because I had never been abroad or even on a plane for that matter. It was also the first time I got a pair of Nikes, before that I was only wearing no-name brands.

How was it like to enter the international acting market?

My aim has always been to work internationally and locally. I left Isidingo – a show I loved – so that I could make myself available for international work. My first international job was Death Race Inferno which was shot in SA. I learnt that I had an affinity for fight choreography because of that role. I also made some wonderful friends in that film too.

What has been the biggest highlight of your career?

I’ve had many big moments in my career. I started out as a TV presenter who was a presenter for one of SABC’s flagship shows for SABC education Take 5. I had the opportunity to meet and sit down with two presidents, [the US's] Bill Clinton and the legendary Nelson Mandela.

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