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SA born actress Lindi Cecile spills the tea about life in Hollywood

Lindi Cecile as Nina in You Up
Lindi Cecile as Nina in You Up

Lindi Cecile is here to make you laugh and make you question things. She describes herself as a “clown” but will undoubtedly call a spade a spade regardless of the situation.

The Hollywood-based South African-born actress and production designer is best known for her roles in movies such as You Up? Borders and The Bough of Auditioning.

She has played alongside Hollywood’s biggest names that include Margot Robbie and Quentin Tarantino, as well as YouTube stars Tyler Regan and Rachel Levin.

Cecile wears many hats that include writing, design, but her first love is in theatre and being in front of the camera acting.

“My biggest love is in theatre and film acting. I was born and raised in Pretoria, South Africa, but now I live in Los Angeles as a working actor,” says the South African born actress.

GLAMOUR caught up with the actress to chat about her move to the US and her daily routine since COVID-19 late last year as well as racism in the industry.

What made you move to the US and how has it been for you there?

A Talent Scout chose me for an opportunity in Los Angeles. I knew that it was the best place to add more to my skill set. I love it here.

Describe your day to day routine during the coronavirus pandemic?

Even during this time, I am still working on something every day. I have been submitting self-tapes for auditions, filming projects following SAG-AFTRA’s strict safety protocol (wearing masks and PPE on set, getting regular COVID tests, etc) and attending virtual film festivals.

Many of the film festivals where my films are playing this year have gone online or turned their screenings into drive-through events. I’ve also been creating my content and studying up on my craft even more.

How did you adapt to these changing times, and what advice can you give to other actors?

Do your best to stay healthy during this time. Follow the safety guidelines. If you’re working on a set, do your part to ensure the safety of the cast and crew. The show must go on. This is the new normal - you’ll have to be healthy to continue working. I’ve taken the CDC’s advice very seriously and I trust that the people I work with do so as well. It’s very important to take care of your mental health right now too. And hang in there, this won’t last forever.

What do you miss the most about SA?

My Family. But I am very grateful for their continuous support of my career.

If you were to advise someone considering a career in acting what 3 things would you recommend for them to focus on?

1. Get to know yourself and the business of acting.

2. Work relentlessly on your craft and take every possible opportunity.

3. Be extra curious about the world. Study and learn about many different topics, people, cultures and stories to broaden your understanding of the human condition.

Where do you see yourself in the next 3 years?

I see myself still doing what I love. Working hard on films, plays and other creative projects, following my intuition and fully committed to my career. My vision is to make people feel seen and understood with my films and character portrayals.

How has it been working with some of Hollywood’s major filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino?

Extraordinary. Tarantino has incredible charisma. After he had secured coverage for each scene, he would say “Okay guys, we’ve got it. But we’re gonna do one more take, because why?” And then everyone on set would reply in unison “because we love making movies!”

Lindi Cecile on set of I’m Press

What are the 3 best films you’ve played in so far?

I’m particularly proud of “You Up?”, a dark comedy about insomnia where I play two characters opposite each other, “I’m Press”, a coming-of-age comedy which is currently being developed into a series, and “Cricket Man”, a parody of the Werner Herzog documentary “Grizzly Man.”

All of them have been doing so well on the festival circuit and it’s a wonderful feeling to have your work recognised.

“You Up?” has been officially selected for the Austin After Dark, HorrorHound, Halloween International, Fright Night, The Magic of Horror, Marina Del Rey, and The Thing in the Basement film festivals, to name but a few. “I’m Press” got into the Urban Mediamakers Film Festival, the Culture and Diversity Film Festival, and the Black Women Film Network, amongst others.

“Cricket Man” won Best Parody at the New York Film Awards and the Festigious International Film Festival Los Angeles and Best Comedy at the Vegas Movie Awards.

What are your biggest moments since arriving in Hollywood?

- Having my films play in prestigious festivals, but most of all, “You Up?” being officially selected for the Cannes Short Film Festival. I was over the moon about that one.

- Winning Best Actress for “You Up?” at various festivals, including the Magic of Horror Film Festival.

- Performing on the Groundlings stage with the Yes-And-the-Kitchen-Sink improv troupe. You can keep up with our upcoming shows and projects on Instagram @yaks.improv

- Being on set with the likes Margot Robbie, Quentin Tarantino and Ryan Murphy

- The success of “A Long Time Ago”, an original play by Thomas Steward: I won Best Actress and we won the best ensemble cast for a comedic play at the National Youth Arts awards recently. I can’t wait to reunite with the cast for our 2021 performances.

5 things that people do not know about you?

1. I’m rather sensitive and introverted - but I no longer see it as a weakness. Instead, I have embraced this quality as an actor’s gift.

2. I have an honours degree in Information Design

3. I’m a night owl. I have a habit of burning the midnight oil because it’s a quiet, peaceful time to be creative.

4. I’m very handy with a sewing machine and love making clothes.

5. I have a phobia of shopping malls. No idea where that came from.

How do you balance your lifestyle and acting career?

The nature of the business leaves little room for the separation of the two. My lifestyle and acting career are mostly intertwined, but that is the life I chose. I’m happy with it. However, I need to take care of my mental and physical health while working on my goals. I work hard, but I take time to rest when it’s necessary.

What’s the one misconception people have about you?

I’ve been told more times than I can count that I'm some sort of a mysterious enigma, or that I’m intimidating. But I’m an open book. I truly love connecting with people.

Lindi Cecil , Image: supplied

What are you most grateful for?

The unwavering and uplifting love of my family and friends, the times when I feel truly healthy, and the opportunity to do what I love with people who are passionate about the arts.

What should we expect next in your acting career?

I’m excited to get back on the Groundlings stage once the health regulations allow it again. “A Long Time Ago” is going to the Hollywood Fringe Festival. We’ve got some exciting content coming from the YAKS improv troupe. 2 TV series projects, “Borders” and “Cat-and-Mouse” starts filming in 2021. “I’m Press” is being developed as a series. I also have several films coming up, including “Vanity” and “Mom Interrupted.” And of course, I am continuing to work on my craft. I am always eager to learn a new skill to add to my acting range.

Racism has been highlighted across industries, and this has led to the BLM, what is your take on this, especially coming from SA where the scourge of racism keeps on raising its ugly head across the board?

The first best thing to do is to learn as much as you can about the reality of systems of oppression, how deep it runs in human history, and then to allow your views to be changed based on new information - even if what you learn is contradictory to the core beliefs of your comfort zone.

We have decisions to make when we look at the world around us. Are we going to say “this is not my fault, so it’s not my problem”, or are we going to play an active role in changing it? There is so much pain. I don’t understand why alleviating it is a debate. We have to take care of one another.

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