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It’s about the love of the craft

There’s a new girl on the block in the South African acting scene and, if feedback from fellow actors is anything to go by, she’s going to be hot property in no time. Lee-Anne Summers landed the role of diverse triplets in Big Fellas, a quirky independent movie shot during December. Written and produced by Ross Garland of “U-Carmen Ekhayelitsha” and “Bustin ‘Bonaparte” fame, and directed by Philip Roberts, the movie is an insane sounding comedy which pokes fun at BEE, quota systems, mannequins   (don’t ask!) and the modeling industry.

Hakeem Kae Kazeem returned from his new life in LA (see him in  “Pirates of the Caribbean 3” with Johnny Depp) for  the  role as the villain in the movie, acting alongside Ross Garland, Marc Lottering, Colin Moss, Cokey Falkow, Lou Venter, Kagiso Lediga, two of South Africa’s  hottest models – Gina Athans and Minki van der Westhuizen and two new hot actresses, Lee Anne Summers and Carling Erntzen.

“This was just the most awesome opportunity for me” said Lee-Anne Summers, who had her work cut out for her playing identical but totally different triplets. “One triplet is the love interest of the lead character Zed (Ross Garland), one works in a sex shop and one is an aggressive lesbian.”

Word has it that her acting so impressed the directors that the role grew with her, but Lee Anne is counting her blessings.

“In South Africa, we get a springboard jump in acting” she says. “Here we can land roles that would go to far more experienced people in overseas productions. The role(s) I have in Big Fellas would’ve gone to a Cameron Diaz if it was an American movie. It’s awesome to have such an opportunity.”

Playing the role of three divergent triplets was hectic, to say the least.

“I had to rush between wardrobe, make-up and scenes” says Lee-Anne. “In the panic of  my scene for the first take, I tripped and went flying into the gravel, but I didn’t hear anybody say ‘cut’ so I just got up and carried on. I don’t think they saw the fall on the monitor.”

Lee-Anne returned to South Africa towards the end of 2005, after studying acting at the New York Film Academy. She  scored top honours and completed a number of small productions while in New York but was not expecting the challenges in the South African film industry.

“It’s been an emotional roller coaster. I love New York, but when you’re away from South Africa for a couple of years, you realize what a great country we have and I couldn’t wait to get back. But when times are tough, you wonder if this is where you should be.  It’s a struggle just to get an agent when you’re new on the scene in South Africa.”

She’s now signed with Emma Ress as screen agent and Ronnie Whitaker of Quirky House as corporate manager.

Her first film role back in SA was in the movie Prey, directed by Darrell Roodt. After that  she landed a role as a junior neurologist in a BBC production of the Chris Barnard story and has since starred as the 60’s flashback in a Dutch series called Stellenbosch, currently screening in Holland.
 
Her role in Big Fellas was thanks to Lee-Anne’s own mix of nagging, begging, creativity and chudspah.

“I begged Ross for a role in the movie. I even handed in an independently produced dvd of myself auditioning for the role/s. Marketing is part of the process. This is what I love doing and I’m determined to make it. I know that acting is my future. I’m confident and that is what it’s about. It took a long time for me to develop that confidence. When I was in a school production, the drama teacher was really one day – she said ‘you’re ham acting!’ and it took years to get her out of my head. Now, I love acting so much – I’ll take the good times with the bad times, as the song goes. This profession is not about fame and fortune, it’s about the love of the craft.”

The more experienced actors, among them Cokey Falkow, Colin Moss and Hakeem, on set were impressed with the new girl. With comments like “awesome”, “professional” and “extremely talented” it looks like she’s arrived.

The movie Big Fellas, executive producer Costa Theo, producer/writer Ross Garland and Director Philip Roberts, will be released by Nu Metro  on 23rd November.

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