Rising star shows us why we must never forget to play
IF you haven’t heard of her yet – you will soon.
Her name is Trudy van Rooy and she’s about to light up your screen in two new local shows airing in January and April.
Teased and taunted because she spoke like “she was speaking for England” as a child, Van Rooy never gave up and followed the call of her dreams.
Ever since she was five, van Rooy knew she wanted to be an actress.
When she was 14, she was inspired by Orlando Bloom’s performance in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
“When I watched The Fellowship of The Ring I knew I wanted to be part of an industry that makes your heart expand,” she said.
In 2013 van Rooy received a call from one of her actor friends to urgently step in to play a scene for the crime film, Zulu, starring Forest Whittaker.
Little did she know she’d be playing opposite Bloom. “I had a private freak-out in the make-up room when I heard. I mean, I used to print out black and white pics of him and frame them!”
Van Rooy studied theatre and performance at UCT and is best-known for her role as Shani in the South African take on CSI, Die Byl.
But it’s her lead performances in the upcoming Afrikaans thrillers Slot and Skemerdans that may put her on the map.
“It’s weird to think I’m playing leads in Afrikaans series, especially since I was called sturvy (snobbish) because of my English accent,” said Van Rooy.
The experience made the actress quite conscious of the intonation of words and the rhythm of the different Afrikaans accents, ultimately improving her ability to pronounce the words, she said.
She now finds accent-work her best hook to get into character.
In the five-episode miniseries Slot (airing from Tuesday on kykNET) she portrayed Mandri Howard, a single parent seeking alternative healing after a personal tragedy left her widowed. Safta-award-winning director Jozua Malherbe, (Wolwedans in die Skemer, Bloedbroers and Griekwastad) describes Van Rooy’s performance style as a “shy chess player”. “She’s able to absorb the chaos around her and then play the very subtle movements of her character – each clearer in positionality than the next, keeping you wanting to know more,” said Malherbe.
In Skemerdans, Van Rooy plays dark horse, Jessie Fortune, who spirals through extreme trauma upon return to her wealthy night-club owning family in Cape Town.
Director, Ephraim Gordon (Barakat and Nommer 37) said, “Trudy knows how to make a character personal – she knows how to play the in between moments many actors can’t, and this shifts her characters from caricatures to humans”.
Trudy said play has been an integral part of her journey as an actress and person.
Despite some judging her harshly for it – her grade one teacher kept her back claiming “Trudy just wants to play” – she says finding joy in everything and celebrating it is what keeps her strong.
The actress’s father Kenneth died in 2019 while she was in Los Angeles.
“You never think your parents are going to die, and then they do, and the world is never the same.”
Trudy said her father’s presence and lessons were still with her, “it’s through my dad’s example that I saw the funny and the adventurous side of life”.