Arendsvlei

It has been a little while since I was so hooked on a show that I watched it religiously. By that I mean watching it at the exact time it airs and waiting all day for it.

Since the introduction of services like the Explora and Catch Up, you don’t have to watch your favourite shows by appointment. Unless you are watching a show like Arendsvlei. I have not missed an episode.

A new telenovela on Afrikaans channel KykNET & Kie, Arendsvlei is about a semi-private high school on the Cape Flats managed by the Cupido family. At first glance Arendsvlei looks like a regular Cape Town neighbourhood. But not all is as it seems. The high school plays host to drama you would least expect and its teachers and students are all involved.

Beatrice Abrahams, played by Jolene Martin, is a teacher and vice- principal, while her brother is a teacher and her husband, who has since died in a shooting in the school, was principal.

There are many supporting characters each with their own storyline. Having only debuted in October this year, Arendsvlei is already tackling social issues like mental illness, abuse, homophobia, drug abuse, patriarchy, teenage pregnancy and much more.

Many might remember Martin as the beauty who brought us our Powerball and Lotto results every week. A performer from age 13, who has starred in Generations: The Legacy, Fishy Fêshuns and Begeertes, Martin said when she saw the script, she had to say yes.

“I got the part of Beatrice the traditional way. My agent told me about it, but was a little apprehensive because the show is shot in Cape Town and I stay in Joburg, but I auditioned anyway. I actually sent video clips I recorded on my phone and they liked me,” she said.

The star said she had been looking for a change. “As you get older, the presenting jobs stop coming in like they used to and the acting jobs start coming in. It was always my career plan to focus on presenting and then acting, so this is great. This actually feels like the start of the rest of my career,” she said. On what attracted her to Beatrice, Martin said it was her strength and vulnerability, but also the opportunity to play a lead. “It’s the first time I am number one on a production, an opportunity of a lifetime.

Being a lead comes with a lot of responsibility, the schedule is crazy, early mornings and late nights, but I felt I was ready for it. “When it comes to Beatrice, I was attracted to her strength and her flaws, and I think that is why she is loved by so many viewers – because we all have to be strong in life but we have flaws,” said Martin.

The star also said that in the society we live om, female leads were important. “We live in a patriarchal society that is getting aggressive, from taxi drivers to men in boardrooms, and it is simply not okay. We have to fight this demon, but you can’t be aggressive with it, it needs to be fought on an intellectual level, and television and strong female leads are a way. Apart from that, I love that we tackle so many different issues with this show. “The public’s response to the storyline has been fantastic,” she said.

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