Nicole Bessick has taken SA's entertainment industry by storm. Fondly referred to as "The Action Barbie", Nicole Bessick is an acclaimed Actress, TV Presenter and Celebrity Boxing Champion.
Bessick bulldozed her way onto the screens in the locally produced and internationally acclaimed crime-thriller Cold Harbour which put South Africa on the map at the Cannes, Berlin and Los Angeles film festivals of 2013.
The Action Barbie went on to feature in Netflix’s hit film Black Mirror and Investigation Discovery's Killer Instinct.
Mzansi will know her best for her role on Skin Deep, The Watcher, and the South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTA) -award winning soap operas Binnelanders and also on eTV’s drama series Broken Vows where she was cast as Chloe.
Bessick is also a talented television presenter and host’s The A1 Chat show, which boasts a following of over 2.3 million views.
Having already made an impressive impact and a name for herself among the country's most dynamic artists, in 2020 Bessick set her sights on breaking broadcasting boundaries when she joined the cast of Lockdown Heights.
The IGTV daily soap opera was created in response to the lockdown restrictions imposed upon film and television studios by the Covid-19 global pandemic.
But it’s her latest role, that’s got everyone talking… A movie set she describes as the “safest, most inclusive set” she has ever worked on.
“No Hiding Here” is South Africa’s first gay romcom set in a small South African town, where a beloved drama teacher accidentally plays gay porn over the biggest school event of the year.
This forces him, and the event’s guest and featured artist – a closeted big city celebrity – into hiding from the outraged community. Off to a rough start, the two are propelled out of their ‘normal lives’ for an unpredictable weekend at the teacher’s house, hiding from their problems, from themselves, and from an outraged community on the hunt for answers to the tantalising scandal.
GLAMOUR South Africa caught up with the star to chat about the film and her role in SA televisions sets.
Tell us about your character and her background?
I play the loveably over-achieving drama buff, Jamie-Lee. She is trying to get her big break via a quaint small town radio station and is intended as a little peek into the future of the ensemble of Matrics we meet in the film. Sam sends his talented students out into the real world feeling hopeful and dedicated to their craft. Jamie-Lee is the outcome.
Why should viewers grab their popcorn and select this movie?
This film is the first of its kind! “No Hiding Here” is South Africa’s first every gay romcom and, as an ally of the LGBTQI+ community, I am so proud to stand alongside this cause, and bring this incredible piece of art to life! This was the safest, most inclusive set I have ever worked on.
The cast and crew were predominantly from the LGBTQI+ community, pronouns were noted on call sheets, and as a heterosexual cis woman, I was COMPLETELY outnumbered. I loved every second. This is a step in the right direction of history.
Take us through filming this movie - what was the experience like and how did Covid-19 impact the process?
In any environment, filmmaking can be a tedious and labour-intensive process that requires hundreds upon hundreds of hands: from actors, directors and extras to hair and makeup artists and catering staff.
In other words, it’s the stuff of nightmares at a time when a deadly airborne virus is circulating! We kept our set safe in the following ways: screening upon arrival, strict safety protocols while on set, safety briefings and testing and isolating before scenes that require close contact or intimacy.
As an actress, what drew you to this role?
Jamie-Lee is an aspiring radio DJ. She’s good at what she does, she works hard, but all she’s missing is her “big break”. In that regard, I think any artist can relate to Jamie-Lee. We’ve all been there.
What personal touch or persona did you bring to your character?
I used to be on campus radio at UCT. It was great to be behind the board for a bit!
What excites you about this film’s release?
This film was made “by the gays, with the gays, for the gays” – as our director puts it. What excites me most is that this film celebrated LGBTQI+ creatives both on screen and off screen. When the audition brief came through, the mandate was clear: Queer characters MUST be played by queer actors.
I can’t wait for the country to meet some of its hottest queer talent! This kind of representation in the SA entertainment industry is long overdue.
February is the month of love - why was it crucial to release this film at this specific time?
No Hiding Here is SUCH a feel-good piece! It’s something we could all enjoy. Whether you're spending VDAY coupled up, with you bestie... or simply practicing self -ove, this one's for you!
What was one highlight or memorable moment you took away from this film?
The fact that the director trusted me with to be a part of something this ground-breaking. I was cast with great certainty shortly after auditioning… didn’t even need to attend a call-back. It’s an incredibly rare, humbling thing.
“I watched Nicole’s audition and immediately knew she was perfect for the role. I could basically cut and paste her audition into my film. She nailed it!” – Gabe Gabriel, LA-based filmmaker and director.
Written and directed by actor Gabe Gabriel, “No Hiding Here” stars 2020 Fleur du Cap winner Earl Gregory (the stage production of “Kinky Boots”), David Viviers (“Kanarie”, “Rage”, “Tali’s Baby Diary”), SAFTA winner Tiffany Barbuzano (“Still Breathing”), Nicole Bessick (“Binnelanders”, “Broken Vows”) and multi-award-winning theatre legend Antoinette Kellerman (“Mad Max: Fury Road”), with a rare local appearance from rising international star Phumzile Sitole (“Star Trek: Discovery”, “Orange is the New Black”, “The Good Fight”).
The film premiered on 18 February, exclusively to Showmax.