My name is Ilse-Lee van Niekerk, but most people here call me Ilse. I’m a 24-year-old South African who recently moved to the UK in order to do an MFA in Acting at the Guildford School of Acting. I’ve decided to spice up this introduction by making an ‘Eleven Things About Ilse’ list (…if my name was spelt “Elsa” the title would have worked even better).
1) I don’t fail to mention that I’m from South Africa when meeting new people, as I absolutely love my country. I grew up in Cape Town and went to university in Stellenbosch (both well known for their beauty) and lived in Johannesburg for almost two years before moving here (known more for its beautifully-hearted-people than its natural beauty).
2) I’m currently doing an MFA degree (Master of Fine Arts – which is, essentially, a two-year-long Masters) in Acting. I’ve always wanted to do a post-grad in the UK at a drama school, so this is something of a dream come true to me!
3) I love acting but also really enjoy singing and music. I grew up in a music-loving family and have two younger brothers. My middle brother is a very skilled pianist and drummer. I pretend to be able to play the ukulele.
4) My mother-tongue is Afrikaans – a South African language that sounds quite similar to Dutch – but I went to an English school.
5) Between finishing my undergraduate degree and moving here, I worked on an Afrikaans television show called ‘Getroud Met Rugby’ (‘Married To Rugby’), which I thoroughly enjoyed.
6) Seeing as I was surrounded by mostly Afrikaans-speakers before moving, I often find myself unconsciously throwing Afrikaans words into conversation with new friends here.
7) I had to dye my hair red for the television show. My natural hair colour is blonde, and I’m trying very hard to get back to it! To be frank, it’s not a pretty process.
8) I am currently living on campus, which is a very fun experience!
9) In our house we have nine different nationalities! It’s always interesting to see what people are cooking for dinner.
10) I’m currently doing tap dancing and ballet lessons! I’m not exactly accomplished, but I’m getting there…
11) It feels like a cliché, but I’ve pretty much tripled my usual tea-intake since moving to the UK. I’m quite sure I’m made up of 70% tea most days.
There we go! Those are some facts about me. I’m going to go rehearse some monologues… and probably make a cup of tea.