FROM HOLLYWOOD BLOCKBUSTERS TO TOP LOCAL PRODUCTIONS IN ENGLISH AND AFRIKAANS – ACTRESS NICOLE FORTUIN IS THE TALENT TO WATCH
South African actress Nicole Fortuin has already featured internationally as the lead actress in a Warner Brothers blockbuster (A Cinderella Story: If The Shoe Fits), starred in some of SA’s top soapies/series (Generations: The Legacy), scooped up leading roles in two other international films, and wowed audiences in Oleanna at The Fugard Theatre (a two-handed show she recently performed in). As a multi-language talent, Nicole proves her versatility time and time again in a variety of Afrikaans and English productions locally (for example Alles Malan currently), as well as the upcoming feature film being released next year, Flatland.
But do not for a second believe that she always had it easy.
Nicole certainly had her fair share of obstacles to overcome to get to where she is today. She opens up: “There is and has been quite a bit of alcoholism in my family…a history of all kinds of abuse. Allowing myself to separate from that and follow an intrinsic voice guiding me into something completely obscure to anything else my family has done was alienating and tough, but ultimately so worth it.”
It is therefore no wonder that organisations such as the Rape Crisis Unit and SADAG (South African Depression and Anxiety Group) are close to her heart and she supports and endorses them wholeheartedly.
Nicole continues: “I think the over-arching obstacle in my life has been betrayal. I’ve faced a lot of that. And quite a bit of animosity from people who don’t know what happens behind closed doors. I think I’ve just become more understanding…and I’ve tried to become kinder as well. When you go through tough times at the hands of others, you learn that you can choose to join the negativity or you can be the light you once needed.”
She says that she learns every day how to listen to herself, and “to hear my thoughts clearly and understand my feelings for what they are – to make more informed and less ego-driven decisions”.
Despite these obstacles, Nicole has the incredible ability to see the beauty in everything and has a zest for life second to none. “I now have no permanent home as I’m continuously travelling between Cape Town and Johannesburg for work,” she shares as an example. She feels grateful for this travelling-lifestyle as it has given her the opportunity to explore, live in and appreciate beautiful parts of our country. An out and out proudly South African girl.
Currently, Nicole is working on a series for kykNET, which she is incredibly excited about, describing it as a This Is Us type of story (the international hit series). “I think it’s so important to tell positive stories that centre on strong familial love,” she enthuses.
2019 also promises to be a very busy year for the talent as she is in talks for a lead role in yet another local feature film. And all of this is just the beginning of what promises to be an incredible career…
A star born in Cape Town’s Groote Schuur Hospital
Nicole was born on the 30th of April in the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, whereafter she and her family lived in Lotus River until she was three. Together with her mom (a former nurse and now a Nursing Manager at Tygerberg Hospital), her father (then a librarian and now an Assistant Director of Library Services) and her younger brother, Nicole found herself living in Belhar for her entire childhood.
After matriculating, she decided to audition at UCT in order to study Drama. “I heard it was tough as nails to get in. On top of that, I knew I had less experience than most others who applied. However, once I got in, I never looked back, even though it felt like I had to play catch up with the other students,” she recalls. In her fourth year at UCT, Nicole worked as an extra on international films, which provided her with significant insight into how the industry operates and she gained invaluable on-set experience, which gave her an appreciation for every department.
“After graduating I remember having one existentialist-driven month of ‘what am I going to do now’. Fortunately my big break came soon when I landed the lead on SABC3’s Roer Jou Voete. I know how lucky I was to get a role of that magnitude so soon,” she states.
Since then, Nicole has been working as a favourite choice in many top productions. “Most recently I’ve been recognised for my role on Generations: The Legacy. However, playing Georgie in the Warner Brothers A Cinderella Story: If The Shoe Fits, which was recently aired on M-Net, means more and more people started noticing me from that film. I’m incredibly proud and still on cloud nine just thinking about it. The fact that South African audiences get to see it is so exciting!” she enthuses.
From local to international – Nicole is doing it all
South Africans can look forward to seeing Nicole in another South African release, called Flatland, next year, which she really hopes local audiences will enjoy. Besides Cinderella, Nicole also represented South Africa in another international release – the horror film, Dead in the Water, set on a ship in the middle of nowhere. “I play an engineer on the ship who clings onto life even in the most futile circumstances. I was the support lead and it was equal parts challenging and rewarding.” Nicole was also recently showcased at a prestigious film festival in New York for her portrayal of the character Eliza in the international short film, Far From the Castle.
Nicole shares her big dreams: “Telling stories and inhabiting characters are my passions. I hope to continue to do that for as long as I live. My biggest dream is to continue to tell incredible and moving stories and become as masterful at the craft as Meryl Streep, Viola Davis and the rest of the truly great actors. I would love to work both locally and internationally on stage and screen.”
Furthermore, Nicole also would love to exhibit her photography and visual art works. She explains: “It’s important to me to be an example of ‘anything is possible’ through hard work, integrity, conscious thought and the passionate pursuit of dreams. Of course I dream of making it big in Hollywood or London, but if that happens I still want to be a part of and celebrate innovative and superb South African work. I just know I’ll eventually work as a director too. I had the opportunity to direct a couple of scenes on a series and it felt completely natural and like a second calling.”
Behind the scenes of the Nicole Fortuin we think we know
Nicole describes herself as intense, becoming, realistic, optimistic, a dreamer, excitable, flawed and sincere. Her philosophy in life and secret to success is to “dream recklessly, but with a flexible idea of how those dreams will come to fruition”, adding “plan it all, but let go of all those plans as soon as you can”.
She continues: “I work hard. That’s my secret. I think about the ways that I can get better and do my utmost best to emulate my best self. I’ve recently also become a lot more compassionate with myself, which proved to be incredibly helpful.”
In addition, Nicole labels herself as an ambivert. “Sometimes I’m so reclusive that I have to remind myself to get some sunlight. Other times I can socialise with anyone and everyone. The only problem is that I can’t switch it on or off, so I have to be whatever I am in that moment. I’m definitely a sensitive and emotional person. In fact, I would love to be more empathetic as a person – it can get you into trouble sometimes, but the world needs more ‘feelers’,” she explains.
In her free time Nicole is a serial binge-watcher of series and (more recently) she has become addicted to foreign films. “I also love the outdoors: hiking, cycling, zip-lining and horse riding are all great fun. To me free time is spent catching up with my tribe of people closest to me, dreaming up my next goals and catching up on lots of sleep. I also love dancing up a storm at my favourite band’s gigs, Bombshelter Beast,” she says.
Talking about her biggest achievement to date, Nicole’s answer might surprise many as she shares: “I think being able to take control of my mental and emotional health in this very tough industry is a huge achievement, as well as making decisions that align with who I am and having the courage to stay true to myself and my intimidating dreams. I’m very aware that being able to work continuously in so many mediums and styles, as well as play such an array of characters is no small feat – and it’s something I’ll never take for granted.”
Nicole’s role models include her mom (“for her unflinching hard work and unwavering integrity’), her best friends Dionne Song (“for her zest for life and stunning individuality”) and Jodie Tabisher (“for her ability to take enormous risks and follow her instincts”).
Fun facts about Nicole
Some fun facts about Nicole include:
- Her favourite colour is yellow,
- She loves African literature (“my favourite novel is still Half of a Yellow Sun”),
- Her eye-sight is not great, and she had surgery last year to correct it,
- She loves vintage clothes and walking barefoot,
- The Game of Thrones theme song was her ringtone for the longest time, and
- She dressed up as Belle from Beauty and the Beast for her Matric Ball and even created a make-shift castle (“that looked more like a huge cardboard box”), which was placed on the back of a truck and that is how she showed up on the night.
Nicole’s markers for spotting trustworthy people
- How she feels when she’s around them,
- Whether they have a track record of their behaviour that can give insight into who they are,
- Who they consider to be close friends,
- What they value, and then above all else,
- What time reveals. “Sometimes you just have to be patient when getting to know someone and eventually their true colours will be revealed…the challenge is for you to believe what they show you.”
Where to join the Nicole conversation
In conclusion, Nicole shares the legacy that she would one day like to leave behind: “I’d like to show that anything is possible when you work hard and trust yourself. I want to leave a legacy as a barrier-breaker – someone who smashed through walls that others didn’t know existed. But above all else, I would like to be remembered as a kind person.”
For more of Nicole, visit her website at www.nicolefortuin.com.
Also join the conversation with her on social media: Instagram (@ItsNicoleFortuin), Twitter (@ItsNicoleForYou) and Facebook (ItsNicoleFortuin).