PODCAST: 'Still Breathing' star Shannon Esra sings the praises of the local drama
Ahead of tonight’s debut of "Still Breathing" on M-Net, Shannon Esra popped by our offices to chat about her role as Candice, among other things.
There was an unmistakable twinkle in her eye when she spoke of auditioning for a part in the show and then learning about the role she got.
She shares, “When it came up that they were looking at me for Candice, I just about lost my mind. I was so excited when I saw the brief of the characters, she just jumped out at me.”
The 13-part series follows a group of former friends who, after having drifted apart over time, are reunited by a tragedy.
According to the synopsis, “It’s all about love, death - and the mess in-between”.
Candice is the supermodel of the group. Her BFF is Abi. They’ve been like sisters since high school until the realities of adulthood set in and life took over. Candice is now a wealthy and career-driven woman.
“Such a fascinating, complex woman,” adds Esra.
She continues, “One of the things on television around the world, we have a lot of stereotypes as woman. You have got to be X, Y or Z. And to have someone so beautifully unbalanced and balanced and nuanced, is rare. So just in terms of the character aspect, that was incredibly special.”
“'Still Breathing' is a gripping, thrilling ride among friends. There’s a loss in the friendship group. This is a group that has been galvanized for the last 20 - 25 years together. Anyone on the outside is kind of envious of the bonds. You will see that with Siv’s (Ngesi) character and his wife,” Esra shares.
“It really is as Kate Liquorish pointed out the other day, it is looking at what 35 - 35 looks like. This has a 'This is Us' and 'Parenthood' feel.”
To me, though, it seems very similar to 'A Million Little Things'.
She also sang the praises of Tiffany and her hubby Johnny Barbuzano.
Esra adds, “The reason why the show is so special. Firstly, it comes down to Tiffany and Johnny Barbuzano. It really does. They have been together for a very, very long time. They, creatively, work so beautifully together. They are this genius mastermind when you meld them together. And this show came about from the loss of her sister. She was dealing with grief. I think grief is such a complex beast to tackle and with grief, you think oh I’m just going to be sad all the time or I’m not going to leave the house. There are different levels. You can laugh hysterically for hours. Everyone grieves in a different way.
“It explores the process of love and loss and friendship in a lot of the various iterations. It’s powerful and it’s funny.”
Aside from gushing about the show, Esra opened up about her journey in the industry, time spent abroad, bagging her first Bollywood movie years back and being on "Isidingo", twice (albeit as different characters), and how she feels about it ending.
And, towards the end of our interview, she gives us a peek into how she spends her downtime.
Listen to the podcast here:
“Beyond the Spotlight” is an Independent Media Lifestyle podcast, where we enjoy a no-holds-barred chat with industry heavyweights, newcomers and trailblazers in the entertainment and lifestyle space.
The podcast was produced and edited by Masabata Mkwananzi.