I recently had a glass of wine with Antoinette Louw, and talked about acting, an ocean view and a little boy starting a journey to the pyramids.
The Art of Exploration: Antoinette Louw.
Red rain, also known as blood rain, is a phenomenon that occurs throughout most parts of the Mediterranean. Because of the atmospheric depression in Northern Africa, desert dust gets swept up and then pushed over the Mediterranean to produce red tears of the sky. Memories of hard fought battles of those distant lands. Some say that Zeus sent red rain as warning for a coming battle.
I started reading ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho when we left Italy for the Balearic Islands. We sailed for Barcelona and by the time we reached Spain I had almost finished it. I remember sitting outside and the weather was warm and cloudy. The book is about a boy that goes in search of his legend. After he decided to sell his sheep and leave his home in southern Spain he embarks on the ultimate adventure through the Sahara and has many obstacles to overcome to get to the treasure he is searching for. He believed his treasure was waiting for him at the Pyramids.
Mesmerized by this epic tale of courage, I noticed that it started to rain. In the book, Santiago, the boy, described the beauty and wonders of the Sahara with absolute precision. After a while I noticed that the puddles of water had a distinctive red glow to it. It was red rain. Transported over the Med, the dust from where Santiago walked had found me. This was the first thing I noticed about Antoinette when I walked into her beautiful home in Jonkershoek. The words of Paulo Coelho written on her wall: “Don’t let anyone make you believe you don’t deserve what you want.”
We started talking about her passion for acting and I could see that she had a living, breathing, love for the journey she had put herself on. This journey wasn’t easy. Following your dream never is, but she said it’s worth the risks and that nothing compares to the rewards. She told me about how she stepped off the plane in Malta, a small island in the Mediterranean, and about the two most important items in her bag at the time: Biltong and Etienne van Heerden’s book; Casspirs en Camparis. There, she spent a year overlooking the ocean and she drank wine that had to be mixed with lemonade. Apparently it makes the maltese wines taste better. She did all of this because she needed to understand her passion for acting and she needed to create an experience that she knew would last her.
It wasn’t as much to challenge the status quo than it was to find a new sense of enlightenment for a love of self-set exploration into an awakening of the soul. For a year she looked upon waves of truth that wore away at her shell, hardened by the industry, until it was time to return home.
She realized that in her own right, every time she stepped on stage or in front of a camera, she did this because that is the legacy that she wants to leave behind. So I backtracked and asked her a few questions:
How old are you now, Antoinette?
Your dream at the age of 17?
My dream has never changed – to be an actress.
What has been your biggest adventure in life thus far?
Oh my word, there have been so many! And still going on. Living in Malta for a year, teaching at a township school in Bloemfontein, doing caring work in the UK. These things helped shaped me and to keep me humble. And also, being an actress and not always knowing when I’ll be working next, has guided me into producing my own theatre productions.
List five of your interests?
Acting, writing, yoga, reading, traveling
What makes you feel passionate about being an actress?
I love stories and how it can affect people on a deeper level. It’s magical to be part of something that influences an individual emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. Not only an audience member/viewer, but myself as well.
Did you also study acting/drama?
Yes, I studied acting at the University of the Free State. I also went to AFDA in Johannesburg for a while.
What do you think of Picasso’s words? “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”
Beautiful and very wise. Because in sharing and living your gift, is not only a gift to yourself, but to those around you. In doing that you make a difference in the world – doesn’t matter what you do.
What is your favourite quote, and why does this specific quote have a special meaning?
I love quotes – they are written all over my house. So to choose one is difficult. But the one that comes to mind is ‘What other people think of you is none of your business’. No matter what you do, there will always be people criticizing you or what you do. Do not give them the power by letting them influence your own truth and path. Every person’s journey is different. You need to honor your own.
One day your kid comes to you and in all earnestness tells you that his biggest dream is to become a professional magician. What would you tell him?
I’ll tell him (or her): “Go make magic, my child! We need more of it in the world.”
Energy and Passion go hand in hand. When on stage or in front of the camera, where do you get that sense of energy/passion?
I just absolutely love what I do – and that automatically gives me energy and passion. Even more so if it’s a story I believe that I know people will enjoy and take something of the story home with them.
Is it personal, being an actress? Is this part of your life’s work or just merely a job within a career?
It is definitely part of my life’s work – so that makes it very personal, yes. I grow and learn every day. Not only as an actress, but as a person. For example, I need to deal with a lot of rejection and disappointment. It’s difficult sometimes not to take it personally. I believe that if your work is your passion, you will grow on all areas that matter – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. But your work has to come from the heart.
If young and aspiring actresses or actors came to you and asked you what it’s really about- what would your advice be to help them realise their dream to make it on stage or behind the television.
To never ever give up. To be very patient – it takes years. And not to compare yourself to others or sit around for work to come your way – create your own!
If you knew you could not fail, what would you do next?
Write my own play and movie.
Would you give an hour of your time every second week for a young dreamer/performer to come and have coffee with you and talk about his/her passion?
Of course! Because the thing that I missed most as a young actress, was a mentor or someone older who could give advice. And I still miss it.
I remembered the feeling on the yacht when I saw the red rain and could touch it and the way the story in the book had made me feel alive. I felt as if, even though I was not in the Sahara, it could just as well have been.
Is that not the point of your story? Is that not the point of any story, told or acted out by someone like Antoinette, to inspire passion through…passion? To make you feel alive. As actress, Antoinette makes you believe something that you see in front of you. What is acting other than to create a stage that portrays a thousand glimpses of reality given by the actress because of her ability to relate to the obedience of your soul and wildness of your heart.
How can you know your self-worth unless you put yourself on the cliff of hardship, facing a fall that you know will burn the fat off your soul so that when you look back- you measure your worth by the times you lived by courage and passion instead of fear of failure. J. Campbell said the cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek. Antoinette made me realize the importance of a(my) story, she should know, because at the end of it all your story is what people will remember, and because she will do it justice I hope that one day someone like Antoinette would be able to tell mine, or maybe even yours.
Antoinette studied drama at the University of the Free State (UOFS) and receives her degree cum laude in 1996.
In her third year she tried her hand as producer and director of the play, The Woman Who Cooked her Husband, a black comedy by the British playwright Debbie Issit. The production was invited to perform in London at the Courtyard Theatre. During her studies she was also awarded the:
- André du Plessis award for best second year drama student
- South African Theatre Journal award for best third year drama student
- Elsa Krantz award for best drama student 1994-1996
- UOFS Merit Bursary for Arts and Culture
- UOFS Honorary Colours for Arts and Culture
She returned to South Africa after a few months in London and studied film acting at the South African School of Film and Dramatic Arts (AFDA) under the direction of award winning playwright, Deon Opperman. There she landed the lead in the M-Net shortfilm, Skidmarks. She was awarded both the AFDA and M-Net Awards for Best Film Actress for her role as Stacey.
After AFDA she took a break from the entertainment industry and after her year in Malta she decided to do that which she loved best: acting and writing. Shortly after her arrival in Johannesburg, she landed the role of “Inge van Schalkwyk” in 7de Laan. The original contract of three weeks became two years.
Buy a copy of the Rooi Rose to find out what she is up to at the moment!