Interview: Leandie du Randt on weapons training and healing after divorce
Leandie du Randt is a familiar face on South African TV and movie screens and you’re about to see her a lot more on TV, seeing as she recently landed the role of presenter on Love Island South Africa. We chatted to her about her journey to stardom, her favourite and least favourite roles and on never being able to f**k up.
What is the least favourite character that you had to play? You know, that character that you absolutely would not want to be friends with? And which character would you be besties with?
The character that I disliked most was definitely Angelique in Hollywood in My Huis. She was the bully in the school, like Blair Waldorf in Gossip Girl. I didn’t enjoy playing her because I’m not a bully and I was bullied in high school. Playing the role of the type of person who really hurt me as a teenager was very hard for me. I wanted to play the role to help me understand why those girls are the way they are.
I like playing characters that make me feel good but it’s important for people to play those characters because they exist in real life. This character made me realise that I would want to play a villain again in future but to portray the character’s story in such a way that people can still find empathy for that character. I think that’s where the true craft of a good actor lies.
The character that I enjoyed playing the most would be Sofia in Meisies Wat Fluit. She’s real, she’s raw and she’s not a people pleaser – a lot like my best friends. And she’s gone through some stuff, so emotionally, she’s very mature. She’s had to take a beating in life; she’s not a sad Sally. She’s a fun, mature girl.
Meisies Wat Fluit is a remarkable movie about rushing into a relationship that ultimately fails. You recently remarked that the movie shook you to your core? Why is that? What should we take away from Meisies Wat Fluit?
I put a video on Instagram TV on why this movie is so important to me but just to add to whatever I said there:
As a “dominee’s dogter en ‘n hoofdogter”, people expect me to do everything perfectly – I can never f**k up. I can never swear. I can never get angry. So I always get cast in the roles of the good girl, the girl next door or the pretty girl. But when this movie came along and it was something that was heartfelt. It wasn’t about being pretty, it wasn’t about icing stuff over. It was about real life and I knew that because I just went through it. I went through a divorce myself. What I really loved about this movie is “dit draai nie doekies om nie”. It shows the way life is – we maybe spend too much, we show too much skin, we move too quickly and physically in relationships, but that is life and that’s how young people live these days. So if I want to be an actor I should be able and willing to tell stories which are true that people can identify with. I wanted to show how complicated and messy relationships can be these days.
By playing this character I had to obviously go through my divorce and through things that I might have done wrong or felt what was wrongly done to me in my marriage. I had to work through all those memories and those emotions. It was like seeing a psychologist day after day while shooting the film because I had to revisit, remember, forgive, let go and heal. I felt like a big part of my heart healed by playing this character. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to have been able to tell that story.
How rewarding is it to present a show like Slank? Do you draw inspiration from the contestants when you see life-changing results and does it affect you on a personal level?
I really enjoy presenting Slank! I’ve been doing it for six years now and with every season I get so inspired by watching people go through these emotional changes while they are making lifestyle changes. I think it brings out the best in you when you start living a healthier lifestyle because you start feeling more confident and you start feeling good about yourself. For me it’s an annual reminder of taking care of myself.
That’s also one of the reasons why I love studying industrial psychology – I love helping people and motivating people to reach their full potential. It is one of the reasons why I do a lot of motivational speaking and why I wrote a self help book – to inspire and motivate and facilitate. Every time we help these contestants find their true selves, it inspires me.
Some of your skills include ballet, ballroom dancing, latin dancing and you’re also a trained gunwoman. For your role as Emma in Jagveld, being able to handle a gun like John Wick is an obvious advantage, but how did you apply your dancing skills, for instance?
I did ballet for 12 years from the age of three. It was amazing groundwork of getting to know your body, using your body, learning how to concentrate, being disciplined in a sport, using your body to feel emotion and to portray that emotion and to understand space. I think every young girl should be introduced to ballet. It helped me with Latin and ballroom and doing Strictly Come Dancing. There are a lot of ballet skills that I had to unlearn that are different to Latin and ballroom. With ballet, you have to be light on your feet and in the air and with ballroom and Latin, you have to be in the ground and in the floor – it’s more passionate and it’s not as disciplined as ballet.
This helped me with gun training because I’m used to learning how to use my body for a new skill but it also definitely helped me in many more ways – fighting, concentration, discipline and memorising stuff.
Towards the end of 2020 you were part of the all-female panel of Miss South Africa’s judges alongside Zozibini Tunzi, Peggy-Sue Khumalo, Anele Mdoda and Kim Engelbrecht. Did you recognise something of yourself in those hopeful contestants? Did it perhaps take you back to the start of your career?
Being a part of the Miss SA panel was one of the biggest accomplishments of my career. It was also something that was on my vision board for a long time. No only to be a judge but also being in the same room with people of their stature like Anele, Kim Engelbrecht, Peggy Sue and Miss Universe – to be able to sit with them around a table and hear their opinions was a true highlight. I feel like I learned so much from that week of judging in Cape Town, just by being surrounded by these powerful women, these powerhouses. It was like a week of mentoring for me. It was amazing! I felt so inspired and educated.
Also, like you said, being a part of the panel, you have to witness these contestants and see how nervous they are. My career started with a beauty pageant and the one thing I really learned by watching all these Miss South Africa contestants, is the one thing that I realised made me win Miss Personality: I chose that evening on stage back in 2007 to be myself.
I would have missed that opportunity to kickstart my career if I hadn’t been myself that evening and that’s what I told all the contestants of Miss SA as well – in the end you need to be authentic and you need to be yourself on that stage. That’s what beauty pageants keep on teaching me time after time. Like Zozibini said: “Take up that space because you earned that space. That space was made for you.”
The cat is out of the bag with Love Island South Africa. Congrats on landing the presenter spot! How excited are you?
Being chosen as the host of Love Island is such a remarkable highlight in my career! I still can’t even fathom it! I can’t wait to start shooting. Something that I’ve always wanted to do is to be the face and the host of a big show and being a part of Slank for the past five years has really made me fall in love with reality shows, so this is such a great opportunity. I’m excited to meet all the beautiful contestants.
And I mean, South Africa is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and we’ve got the most friendly, witty and opinionated people, so you can just imagine how entertaining this show is going to be! To be able to facilitate, to host and to be a part of match-making, possible love and possible feuds.