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Nicole Fortuin On Finding A Balance

Whether it be on the big screen, television or the theatre stage, Nicole Fortuin has proven herself to be a triple threat not only in the local entertainment space, but internationally too.

The 29-year-old power-house, who grew up in Belhar, sings, acts and dances, and effortlessly taps in and out of her many talents to bring her characters to life. With two movies and two TV roles already out this year, Nicole shows no signs of slowing down and she cannot wait for audiences to see what else she has in store for the rest of the year. When she takes on a role, it is so much more than remembering to say the right words at the right time. It is an immersive experience, during which she becomes that character, and physically and emotionally takes on their pain, joy and mystery to create some unforgettable, gripping and inspiring art. She has no problem dying her hair blonde, or falling off a horse during horse-riding lessons, if it will help to make her characters more believable.

Even though a global pandemic threw a spanner in the works for many people, Nicole considers herself to be one of the lucky people who still continued to work and book jobs despite it being a very trying time for the industry, and world. ‘The last two years have been tough on everybody, but our industry and actors in general are so resilient. It has been amazing to be part of the journey of so many amazing projects and I am just excited to have audiences finally see the projects we have been working so hard on,’ an ecstatic Nicole says during our Zoom call.

Nicole Fortuin

If she is not on set, she is usually preparing for a role or busy with auditions for possible roles. She is a firm believer in the fact that you are only as good and relevant as your last role, and that booking your next gig isn’t just a given. ‘You constantly have to be working on your craft and growing as an actor. There isn’t space in our industry to be content. You have to go after every role like it’s your first, and for me it is important to bring something different to the table every time,’ she says. Nicole has a very tight schedule, working on various productions, but that is how she prefers it for now. She is an actor who is not quite ready to make the full-time leap to a routine soapie set yet and a big reason for this is a craving for constant evolution.

‘I love playing different characters and working in different locations. It can be so unpredictable and you often have to push yourself to see how fast you can deliver and become that character,’ she says. ‘It is important that you push yourself and move outside of your comfort zone if you want to work in the industry for a long time. That is part of the reason why I enjoy playing different characters, because it shows my range, and every project has a different vibe.’

In February, Nicole stole audiences’ hearts as Lauryn in the heart-warming film Late Bloomer. The movie, directed by the award-winning local filmmaker Amy Jephta, premiered on M-Net and is currently available on Showmax. It tells the story of Lauryn who lives a party life of drinking and one-night stands. Nothing is permanent for her – not jobs, relationships or even living arrangements. So when she falls pregnant, it not only forces her to confront the choices she’s made, but she also needs to contend with her changing body and a budding romance with a more innocent gentleman.

Nicole Fortuin

‘I loved playing Lauryn, because she is a lot different from my own personality, and that is always fun. She shows Cape Town in a more refreshing way and the script was great. I also got to see myself on a billboard for the first time with this movie, and career highlights like these are very special to me.’ In May this year, she wowed local and international cinema audiences when the new South African action film Indemnity hit cinemas in South Africa and the US. She portrays the role of Angela, the wife of ex-firefighter Theo, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Theo’s world turns upside down when Angela, a journalist, is murdered, and he becomes the lead suspect. It is a thrilling movie that shows local talent at its best and Nicole considers herself blessed to be able to work alongside the best in the industry.

When asked what she thinks has made her career successful, Nicole says she has been fortunate enough in life to see all the extremes of poverty, wealth, conservative and liberal. ‘What that has afforded me was the awareness that I might not have a lot of material things, but I do have a lot of other things. Therefore, I try my best to make the most of what I do have while still striving towards the things I do not yet,’ a humble Nicole says while chatting to Balanced Life in the lounge of her new home. ‘We’re all given a set of circumstances, and whatever they may be, I believe in the power of being honest with yourself. Work hard, rely on support structures, work smart and be very grateful for every opportunity you get to do what you love. Dreaming is so important too and I am constantly dreaming and speaking into existence the things I want for myself and my career.’

While she hasn’t always had the time to focus on personal goals due to her busy schedule and growing her career, with her 30s approaching, it has become increasingly important to her to find that balance and have as much growth personally as professionally. It can be as simple as carving out more time to be present or it can be as big as one big personal goal she has crossed off the list this year… Buying her first home! ‘I’ve always said that I’d like to have my own space, and it was something I’ve been saving and working towards for a very long time. Probably since my first pay cheque and even though it can be tough for a freelance actor to be able to purchase a home, I financially planned for this and worked towards it,’ she says.

Nicole Fortuin

Nicole, who is very family orientated and loves spending time with her friends, says having a successful career in the entertainment industry has often come at the expense of her private life due to long hours and many times shooting over weekends when milestones are celebrated. ‘It seems like simple things to miss for the amazing work we get to do, but those things are important too and sometimes you do miss out on life. So finding that balance is important in any career. Giving yourself focus and attention is essential. It matters because it adds to your joy, happiness and being mentally strong!’ ‘As an actor the job looks physical, but I’m one person constantly stepping into someone else’s shoes, so you have to be mentally fit too. So I make sure to remain mentally fit by moving my body every day, sometimes it’s as simple as getting some sun and fresh air or listening to music to hype myself up.

As she enters her 30s, Nicole is excited for what’s ahead, even if she can’t talk about the projects she has coming out just yet. She also wants to be present and spontaneous and allow herself to be vulnerable. ‘I want to be specific about my goals and be rooted in the things that are important to me. I’m stepping into this new chapter thankful for all I have and look forward to all that will come.’

Text: Tarren-Lee Habelgaarn
Stylist: Rojaun Devos; stylist’s assistant: Hunter Erlank; photography: Chanelle Naudt/
Photography assistant: Kyra Welch; retouching: Adri Papakonstantinou; Make-up: Andrea/chameleon creatives

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