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  • African Black American Film Society Kicks Off 2020

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    On Thursday, February 13, the African Black American Film Society kicked off their first meeting of the year by setting the initiative of the club in motion as several New York Film Academy (NYFA) students as well as alumni from various departments gathered to discuss the way forward. 

    ABA Club Feb 2020

    Members showed a keen interest in organizing and hosting events that would build morale, as well as establish and solidify relations amongst individuals. During the event, new members also had the pleasure of meeting the ABA advisor, NYFA Producing instructor Kim Ogletree. 

    Ogletree spoke about the Industry Lab and how it is beneficial in assisting creatives in developing their projects. The club has a lot in store for current and potential members this year in terms of numerous networking and collaborative opportunities that will benefit students in their respective fields.

    Four days later, on February 17, the ABA hosted an African Heritage Day presentation and screening. ABA members Lethabo Mokgatle and Thembelihle Nkosi provided a presentation about South Africa and some of the things that make their home country special to them. They screened Sarafina!, the 1992 South African musical film about the 1976 Soweto uprising against apartheid that stars Whoopi Goldberg. 

    Before the screening, all the attendees got into an engaging discussion about both South African and African American history, violence, injustice, and how there are so many similarities between the two. At the end of the screening, not only were people exposed to a new movie they’d never seen before, but had learned from each other’s experiences. 

    Though the attendees came from different geographical locations around the world, this did not limit the ABA meeting as everyone was able to connect, respect, listen and engage with others’ points of view and grow our overall understanding.

    Written by ABA members Thembelihle Nkosi and Rhema Boston

     

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  • South African New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alumni Meet Up at Inaugural Events

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    This May, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted inaugural South African NYFA alumni events in Johannesburg and Cape Town. This was a fantastic opportunity for NYFA’s South African alumni to connect and expand their network. South Africa Alumni Event

    Blake Babbitt, NYFA Associate Director of Outreach, has been traveling to South Africa for that past 7 years on behalf of the school, and was very delighted to see a true community of New York Film Academy artists coming together in their home country. 

    “There is a growing entertainment industry here in South Africa,” says Babbitt. “Ultimately we want our graduates to use the techniques and knowledge gained at NYFA to influence the industry not only in America, but in their home countries as well.”

    Babbitt continues, “The power of community is essential to the entertainment industry and to artistic success. I am very pleased to see a community of New York Film Academy artists forming here in South Africa, and I’m excited to see how this budding community will expand and impact the way South African stories are told. The sky is the limit for this group!” 

    During the event, NYFA alumni exchanged contact information, formed WhatsApp groups, and tagged each other in social media posts and stories. There was even discussion to form an official alumni chapter in South Africa. 

    Additionally, many alumni expressed their gratitude for the training they received at New York Film Academy, and for NYFA’s concern for them after they graduated. “Once you join us at New York Film Academy, you become a part of our family for life,” Babbitt told the alumni. “We don’t forget about you the second you graduate. Seeing you succeed is incredibly important to us.”

    “Blake and Maria were the most gracious hosts,” says BFA Filmmaking alum Zack Schofield-Nel. “The people that I was blessed to have networked with were incredible; I have built connections that will last for a long time to come. This could have only have happened because I was fortunate enough to attend the New York Film Academy.”

    He adds, “It is the most supercalifragilisticexpialidocious that I could have ever imagined!”

    Attendees included the following NYFA alumni:

    • Lunathi Mampofu (2-year Acting for Film): Trailblazing South African actress. Working on multiple TV shows in South Africa.

    • Eden Classens (2-year Musical Theatre): Runner-up, Dancing with the Stars South Africa; Lead on Afrikaans series Suidooster; recently cast in Netflix’s Kissing Booth 2.

    • Rethabile Ramaphakela (8-week Screenwriting): South African production company co-owner and voiceover artist best known as the voice of the Vuzu shows V-Entertainment and 10 Over 10. Co-owner of the production company Burnt Onion Productions with her brothers Tshepo and Katleho, who created and produced the SABC1 sitcom My Perfect Family and the Vuzu mockumentary Check-Coast. Produced and created a show that is currently available on Amazon Prime. Directing her first feature film in June.

    • Zandi Zim (MFA Acting for Film): Formed her own production company. South African actress that has performed at The Grahamstown National Arts Festival and Cape Town Fringe Festival. Stage actor since the age of eight and has studied Meisner and Alexander Technique. Zandi also sings, plays jazz piano and marimbas, and speaks English and conversational Sesotho.

    • Jacqueline Rainers Setai (8-week Screenwriting, continuing into 1-year Screenwriting): Head of Mojalove Channel on DSTV; well-known and established South African writer, producer, documentarian, broadcaster.

    • Petrone van der Merwe (8-week Acting for Film): Currently in two stage productions for the ADK (Academy of Dramatic Arts)’s 80th birthday celebrations that will premiere at the UJ Artscape Theater in Johannesburg and will also be performed in Stellenbosch at the Drostdy Theater. Signed with the talent agency, Gaenor Artiste Management.

    • Audrey Mokono (1-year Acting for Film, continuing into BFA Acting for Film): Recent graduate of NYFA’s 1-year Acting for Film program and will continue her studies in NYFA’s BFA Acting for Film program.

    • Anlezia Venter (BFA Acting for Film): Opened her own fitness studio in Cape Town.

    • Zackary Nel (BFA Filmmaking): Currently finishing his BFA thesis film in Cape Town, and has hired his own local crew.

    • Paul Fulton (8-week Screenwriting): Copywriter for ad agency. Has two feature-length scripts he is working on getting sold.

    • Keyuri Naidoo (6-week Acting for Film): From Johannesburg; known for her role as Karishma in Droomdag (2017) directed by Willie Esterhuizen. During her time at NYFA-Los Angeles, Keyuri directed and acted in numerous student short films.

    • Thuto Marrengula (1-year Acting for Film): Thuto Marrengula is an actor, known for Non American Dreamers (2018) and Ask Questions Later (2016); currently developing an hour-long stand up routine.

    • Nyeleti Khoza (AFA Acting for Film):  South African actor known for The Coroner: I Speak for the Dead (2016), Black Tea (2017), and Remember Me (2017). Recently cast in Giyani – Land of Blood, a new highly-viewed telenovela on SABC2

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA Acting for Film Alum Tayla Schaffner Writes, Produces, and Stars in Award-Winning ‘When It Rains’

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    Tayla Schaffner, graduate of the New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA in Acting for Film program, has been turning heads with her thesis film When It Rains, which has been steadily winning awards since its debut.

    Schaffner originally hails from Johannesburg, South Africa, where she first auditioned for NYFA Associate Director of Recruitment Blake Babbitt. “She immediately stuck me as incredibly talented, professional, and driven,” says Babbitt of their first meeting. “I’ve been fortunate to get to know Tayla as a person during her studies at NYFA and we’ve kept in touch since her graduation from our BFA Acting for Film program. It’s inspiring to see Tayla’s growth as an artist.”

    Tayla Schaffner
    After getting her feet wet in her school’s drama club, Schaffner left her home country and headed to study at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus. Through the course of her BFA studies, she was cast in a total of 17 student-directed films and an Off-Broadway production of Antigone by Sophocles in which she played the lead at the Majorie S. Theater in Times Square, New York.

    “I believe my time at NYFA shaped me into an on-the-spot thinker,” says Schaffner. “It taught me to take exactly what I have, and work with it. There is no point in fussing over what you don’t have.”

    Her hard work came to fruition with When It Rains, her short film about a woman named Lila who discovers she has cancer for the second time. Apart from playing the lead, the film was also written and produced by Tayla as part of her final thesis project for her Bachelor in Fine Arts.

    The film has gone on to win several nominations and awards, including:

    • Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival – Winner – Best Drama Short
    • Best Shorts Competition – Winner – Award of Recognition
    • Los Angeles Film Awards – Honorable Mention – Student Film
    • United International Film Festival – Winner – Award of Merit
    • The IndieFEST Film Awards – Winner – Award of Recognition
    • Los Angeles Movie Awards – Honorable Mention
    • Los Angeles Cinefest – Semifinalist
    • Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards – Semifinalist

    Taking time to reflect on her achievements and never forgetting her roots, Schaffner shares a very important message to her fellow South Africans back home: “Anything is possible if you just believe. The opportunities are endless.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates BFA Acting for Film alum Tayla Schaffner on the success of her film When It Rains and looks forward to seeing her future successes!

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    April 30, 2019 • #WomenOfNYFA, Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 77

  • New York Film Academy Alum DonnaLee Roberts in Production for Stroomop in South Africa

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    DonnaLee Roberts via IMDB

    New York Film Academy Acting for Film grad DonnaLee Roberts is a model for on-screen performers seeking to build their own career, their way.

    The prolific, award-winning South African performer-turned-writer/producer is now shooting feature-length adventure film Stroomop, in which she not only stars but also serves as co-writer and co-producer.

    Stroomop is the directorial debut of Roberts’ frequent collaborator and fellow South African A-lister Ivan Botha, who shared the screen with Roberts in South African blockbusters Vir Altyd and Pad na jou Hart, which the team also co-wrote and co-produced.

    Screen Africa reports that Stroomop is slated for a nationwide release on South Africa’s Women’s Day, Aug. 9, 2018, through the distributor Ster-Kinekor Entertainment.

    Roberts, who holds South Africa’s prestigious Huisgenoot Tempo Award for both Best Actress and Best Feature Film, told Screen Africa that she did some serious water training in preparation for Stroomop, which follows five women on a whitewater rafting misadventure on the Orange River.

    “My character finds herself in a situation where she must take the lead in rough waters,” Roberts said, “So it was crucial for me to be fully prepared for the challenges of filming on the river.”

    At a moment when the eyes of the world are on Hollywood’s gender imbalance, it’s especially exciting to see Roberts leading the way both on screen and behind-the-scenes as a content creator. Roberts summed up her strong work ethic and inspiring outlook well in a previous interview with the NYFA Blog:

    “In this industry we are all creative beings. Create the world you want to play in, create the characters you want to portray. It takes long hours of hard work, commitment and passion to make your dreams come true. The 8-Week Acting for Film Program at the New York Film Academy inspired and motivated me even more. I thought, I can now do this by myself. I don’t need to wait for success to fall onto my lap.”

    Bravo, DonnaLee!

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  • NYFA Alumna’s “Alive and Kicking” Documentary to Screen at Venice Film Festival

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    lara-ann

    Lara-Ann de Wet

    One of the more successful films to come out of the New York Film Academy in recent years is Lara-Ann de Wet‘s documentary short, “Alive and Kicking.” Her film has screened at numerous film festivals, including SXSW, Brooklyn Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, where she won Best Short, and DOC NYC, where her film won Jury Prize for “Spirited Storytelling.” Next up, de Wet will be taking her film to the 73rd Annual Venice Film Festival, where it will screen with four other NYFA short films.

    “Alive & Kicking” is a triumphant story about elderly African women who have taken their health and happiness into their own hands by taking up the game of soccer. It is a story that celebrates the fact that even against the harsh and desolate realities of their lives, living in extreme poverty and crime, and surrounded by death and disease, these African grandmothers are able to create a joyful space whereby they can celebrate being alive and physically able. Not only that, but through the love and guidance of their coach Jack, and Founder Mama Beka, these grannies run and kick their way down the soccer field more impressively than most young people in their community.

    “More often than not we are often only given the unfavorable social and economic statistics of what life is like in rural Africa or South Africa without any documented account of the culture and vibrancy often found within the rural communities,” said de Wet. “Being South African, there are so many wonderful stories that have yet to be told and need to be brought to the world stage.”

    De Wet says her film also celebrates the African women as being a pillar of strength in their society as well as the importance role exercise and community can play as a means to deal with physical or mental illness.

    Alive & Kicking Trailer from Lara-Ann de Wet on Vimeo.
    “My NYFA Doc experience was invaluable in terms of equipping me with the skills and insight I needed to direct this film,” said de Wet. “Prior to my one year conservatory course in documentary filmmaking I had never in fact made a film before, as I had been working in a management role at a brand consultancy. The course not only taught me the technicalities of shooting, editing, producing and directing, but more importantly the elements and critical thinking behind what makes a good story; and how to convey that to an audience. Doing the one year documentary course at NYFA may have been the most worthwhile investment I have ever made and, considering this film was my thesis film, I attribute nearly all I have learned to my training at the New York Film Academy.”

    De Wet continues to work as a freelance editor and producer on other documentaries. She is also in the process of applying for funding to make a second film about surf therapy in South Africa.

    “My goal is to continue to direct and tell stories that shine a light on African Culture,” she says.

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  • South African Actress Donnalee Roberts is an All Around Superstar

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    Coming off the success of the popular South African television series, 7de Laan, and the feature film Klein Karoo, New York Film Academy 8-Week Acting for Film graduate Donnalee Roberts has greatly expanded her role in the South African entertainment business. Not only does the hard-working South African enjoy the artistic gratification of acting for the camera, she also loves running a business and exploring the integrated marketing and networking that goes on behind the scenes of her films.


    Her critically and commercially successful romantic adventure, Pad na jou Hart (Road to your Heart), in which Roberts played the lead actress and was co-producer and co-writer along with Ivan Botha, has been seen by over one million people thus far!

    Her more recent award-winning film, Ballade vir ‘n Enkeling (Ballad for a Stranger), which stars Roberts as Carina, had its premiere in Australia and New Zealand and had a nationwide release in South Africa. Ballade vir ‘n Enkeling is a romantic thriller based on the popular South African television series from the eighties. Not only did the series have South Africans nailed to their televisions, the film was highly acclaimed and was both a critic and box office hit, earning Tempo awards for South African Film of the Year. Donnalee also won Best Actress of the Year for both Pad na jou Hart and Ballade vir ‘n Enkeling.

    Roberts’ goal is to continue to provide original content to her native country, which has recently seen a resurgence in its film industry.

    “We have a wonderful supporting audience in South Africa that is extremely loyal to local content,” said Roberts. “I would love to have this audience grow and also keep on motivating our existing audience. As a filmmaker and storyteller, my goal is to not only make South Africans proud of the films and stories that originate in our country but to also make films that are so universal in their themes that they transcend language barriers and move people from all over the world.”
    As an independent filmmaker one knows the importance of marketing your film correctly in order to reach its full potential. That is why Roberts and her team started a marketing division within their production company which specializes in making marketing personal and creating a need for people to want to see their film.
    “In a country where we speak 11 official different languages and where we are at all times directly competing against international blockbusters, marketing has become essential. The South African film industry, specifically the Afrikaans language market films, is literally bursting out of its seams, and as a young filmmaker it is so exciting to be on the forefront of this endeavor!”

    vir altydHer upcoming film, Vir Altyd (Forever), which Roberts stars and also co-wrote and co-produced with Ivan Botha, was shot half in South Africa and half in Mauritius. Vir Altyd is a romantic adventure film that takes us on a journey through the seasons of love and the true meaning of what ‘forever’ means. Roberts and her team are currently busy with post-production and the feature film releases nationwide on February 12th, 2016.

    Roberts advice to those who are pursuing acting, especially current students is to CREATE. “In this industry we are all creative beings. Create the world you want to play in, create the characters you want to portray. It takes long hours of hard work, commitment and passion to make your dreams come true. The 8-Week Acting for Film Program at the New York Film Academy inspired and motivated me even more. I thought, I can now do this by myself. I don’t need to wait for success to fall onto my lap.”

    She strongly encourages actors to involve themselves more with writing and producing their own material.

    “You should never stop learning and growing,” Roberts added. “Always have a spirit of growing.”

    blake and donnalee

    Donnalee Roberts and Blake Babbitt

    Donnalee Roberts will be joining Blake Babbitt at the New York Film Academy’s audition and portfolio review event at the Davinci Hotel and Suites on Nelson Mandela Square in Johannesburg on September 5th at 18:00.

    The Film Academy will also be holding auditions and portfolio reviews in Cape Town on Tuesday, September 8th.

    For more information on either of these events, please email southafrica@nyfa.edu or CLICK HERE to sign up.

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    August 25, 2015 • Acting, Community Highlights, Road Show, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 25586

  • NYFA Awards Scholarships to “Be Your Dream” Performers

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    be your dream

    Acting Scholarship Winner Prosper Mangena (right) with Blake Babbitt and Anaïs

    As an on-going effort to reach talented individuals not only in the Unites States but also abroad, the New York Film Academy has partnered with the “Be Your Dream” project in South Africa to offer two full tuition scholarships to teen musical theatre and acting students.

    Founded by artist and Ambassador of Lifeline, Anaïs, the “Be Your Dream” project is an initiative to spread awareness throughout South Africa, regarding LifeLine and their free services and counseling that is provided for those in need.

    After auditioning forty selected individuals from the program, our admissions team was forced with the difficult decision of awarding two of the many deserving artists with these talent-based scholarships.

    kayla

    Musical Theatre Scholarship Winner, Kayla de Araujo

    Today, with Anaïs on hand at NYFA Battery Park, NYFA showcased our most recent student scholarship winners:

    • Prosper Mangena, Awarded 4-Week Acting for Film Teen Scholarship
    • Kayla de Araujo, Awarded 4-Week Musical Theatre Teen Scholarship

    “I had the honor of awarding Prosper Mangena and Kayla de Araujo full talent-based scholarships to attend our 4-Week Teen Summer Acting for Film and Musical Theatre programs,” said Director of Performing Arts Admissions, Blake Babbitt. “I see such incredible talent come from South Africa, and it’s a pleasure to be able to join with the ‘Be Your Dream’ project to offer Kayla and Prosper this unique and life changing opportunity.”

    We’re delighted to have these two gifted young performers currently enrolled at NYFA, and look forward to seeing next year’s talent!

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    June 30, 2015 • Community Highlights, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5672

  • New York Film Academy Returns to South Africa

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    cape-town-south-africa

    Once again the New York Film Academy couldn’t resist another trip to South Africa! We are never disappointed and we’re always anxious to get back. Not to mention the overall enthusiasm South Africans have for the arts and the New York Film Academy.

    If you are interested in finding out more about NYFA or would like an audition, check below to see when we’ll be in your area.

     

    JOHANNESBURG

    Auditions for partial Talent Based Scholarship to the Acting and Musical Theatre programs

    AND

    Portfolio reviews for partial scholarship to Filmmaking, Photography, Cinematography, Documentary, Game Design, 3D Animation, Broadcast Journalism, Screenwriting, and Producing programs

    WHEN: Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

    WHERE: Johannesburg (Kempton Park)

    TIME: 13:00-15:00

    ——————-

    Open House and General Information Session for All New York Film Academy programs

    WHEN: Thursday, September 12th, 2013

    WHERE: Johannesburg (Kempton Park)

    TO RSVP: You must email southafrica@nyfa.edu 

    —————–

    CAPE TOWN

    Auditions for partial Talent Based Scholarship to the Acting and Musical Theatre programs

    AND

    New York Film Academy portfolio reviews for partial scholarship to Filmmaking, Photography, Cinematography, Documentary, Game Design, 3D Animation, Broadcast Journalism, Screenwriting, and Producing

    WHEN: Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

    WHERE: Cape Town

    TIME: 13:00-15:00
    —————–

    Open House and General Information Session for All New York Film programs

    WHEN: Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

    WHERE: Cape Town

    TO RSVP for this or any event, please email southafrica@nyfa.edu

     

    READ CAREFULLY BEFORE YOU RSVP

    1. Portfolio Reviews consist of a panel review of two pieces of creative work pertaining to your desired field of study. Reviews are for partial scholarship to our *full time Filmmaking, Photography, Cinematography, Documentary, Game Design, 3D Animation, Broadcast Journalism, Screenwriting, and Producing programs.
    2. Auditions are for partial scholarship to our *full time Acting or Musical Theatre programs.
    3. MUSICAL THEATRE AUDITION: Consists of a 60-90 second monologue from a published contemporary American play or screenplay, and two contrasting musical theatre songs with music backing.
    4. ACTING AUDITION: Consists of 2 contemporary, contrasting monologues of approximately 60- 90 seconds per monologue.
    5. Information session/Open House: A detailed overview of all the programs NYFA has to offer.
    6. *Full Time = 1 Year or longer
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    August 13, 2013 • Academic Programs, Road Show • Views: 13601

  • NYFA Returning to South Africa

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    South-Africa-Cape-Town

    The New York Film Academy is thrilled to return to South Africa this April and May! We’re never disappointed in the talent and enthusiasm that the country has to offer. So, if you’re interested in learning more about NYFA’s hands-on intensive programs and you live in the area, you will not want to miss this event!

    Check out the schedule below to see when and where exactly we’ll be in your area.

    Private Auditions for Acting and Musical Theatre Programs

    When: Sunday, April 28th 2013
    Where: Johannesburg, South Africa

    You must contact Blake Babbitt at Blake@nyfa.edu to confirm time slot, instructions, and location.

    NYFA Information Session (Information for all NYFA programs)
    When: Sunday, April 28th
    Where: Johannesburg, South Africa
    Location: Mannah Lodge- 39 Pomona Road, Pomona, Kempton Park
    Time: Info Session Starts Promptly at 3:00 PM or 15:00

    Private Auditions for Acting and Musical Theatre Programs
    When: Friday, May 3rd 2013
    Where: Cape Town, South Africa

    You must contact Blake Babbitt at Blake@nyfa.edu to confirm time slot, instructions, and location

    NYFA Information Session (Information for all NYFA programs) 
    When: Friday, May 3rd 2013
    Where: Cape Town, South Africa
    Location: Lagoon Beach Hotel –  Milnerton, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
    Time: Info Session Starts Promptly at 5:00 PM or 17:00
    Please RSVP to all South Africa events by emailing, Blake Babbitt- blake@nyfa.edu.
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    April 1, 2013 • Study Abroad • Views: 5046

  • Actors Can Never Stop Learning

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    After dreaming of studying acting in New York for ten years, South African native, Donnalee Roberts made her dreams come true with New York Film Academy’s 8 Week Acting for Film workshop. However, Donnalee came to NYFA with an already blossoming career in acting and filmmaking back at home. Roberts is a regular on the popular South African soap, 7de Laan, where she plays the vibrant young waitress, Annelie. “It is amazing to play this part,” said Donnalee. “A lot of young girls can relate to the character.”

    In addition to her work on the popular television show, Donnalee will star in the feature film, Klein Karoo. The film plays off the central location of the South African town, Klein Karoo. Landing the role was another dream of Donnalee’s, rewarding her the opportunity to work with a director she’s always admired and respected. Though, she wasn’t always lucky in her career. Donnalee spoke about perseverance and maintaining a positive attitude in the highly competitive field of acting. “You can go on 100 auditions and never get the part. It just means the part wasn’t meant for you, but don’t give up.”

    Next, Donnalee will be playing the lead in a new romantic comedy, Pad na jou HART (Road to Your Heart), which she co-wrote and is co-producing. “I’m very excited about where the South African film industry is going.”

    Aside from her passionate acting and filmmaking work, Donnalee is heavily involved with a charity called Children of Fire. The charity aids young burn victims in South Africa. For more information on how you can help in this cause visit their website: http://www.firechildren.org.

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