To wear many hats and wear them well is no small feat, but actress and philanthropist Ashleigh van der Hoven makes it look like a walk in the in the park.
From acting to philanthropy, Van der Hoven has shown that there is no task too small for her to take on. The Cape Town actress said the pandemic had opened her eyes and shown her that there was more to life.
“I learned to remain worthy in the face of nothing happening in my life. Lockdown has caused me to work on myself, my mindset and personal development.
“When there are no jobs, how do you not make that a reflection of your worth?
“I learned to follow my joy. Even when I am not acting, there are other things, like my NGO, that have brought me joy and taught me so much about the world, outside of acting,” she said.
Van der Hoven started and co-founded NGO Khanyisa uMzansi last year after the looting and riots in July. The organisation raised nearly R100 000 to help 12 small businesses in Johannesburg recuperate.
“I wanted to see what I could do to help. We were devastated at how destitute these businesses were after the looting, and we want to help as many people as possible.
“Our only condition in helping businesses is that they pay it forward. Even if it is something as small as giving flour to a business selling vetkoek,” she said.
The actress acquired her acting qualifications at Stella Adler Acting Academy in Los Angeles in 2010 and Act Cape Town - Film Acting Academy in 2017. She also completed a Bcom degree in economics and finance at UCT in 2014. Van Der Hoven said she chose to do the degree because she knew it would help her in future.
“I knew if I was going to study something, I needed it to help me start my own business in future,” she said.
Van der Hoven, 30, said she recalls always being the energetic child in her class at school, which often got her in a lot of trouble.
“The only safe space for me was when I did drama and music. Those were the only teachers who liked me,” she said.
Her acting experience ranges from international feature films to national TV series and films. She is well known for her roles in films like Shark Killer, Cut-Out Girls and Bhai’s Cafe.
The Cape artist recently starred in the Showmax movie special, Season’s Feelings, which was released in December last year. Loyal SABC 1 viewers might also recognise her from her role as Jana van Zyl in the African Dreams TV series which broadcasts weekly.
Van Der Hoven said her experience in acting in international productions has been different from national productions because of the increased budget.
“The scope of things is bigger, but it depends on the production. Each experience is unique,” she said.
Her love for people and service to others further extends to her spare time where she coaches yoga and drama therapy at a rehabilitation facility.
In the next few weeks, Van Der Hoven plans to launch her own business as a life coach. She recently obtained her certification for this from the Quantum Coaching Academy with Ashley Gordon in America. Van der Hoven has raised funds for Rape Crisis and has been an ambassador for Women for Change.
“This is part of my service to the world and women. I believe that women are the backbone of society.
“When women are in their power, it’s such a beautiful thing to witness,” she said.