South African actress Kim Engelbrecht can currently be seen on US screens as one of the stars in CW’s The Flash. While we wait to see her on our screens in January, Channel24’s Leandra Engelbrecht met up with the actress to talk about the exciting new phase of her career.
Cape Town – Describe yourself in one sentence.
"Me? I’m just Kim."
It’s hard to believe the somewhat shy person sitting across from me just landed a major role in an international hit television series.
I learn early on in our conversation that Kim isn’t really big on self-hype. She’s totally chilled.
"In my real life I am plain and simple and when I act I can be someone different. I can put on a costume, use a different accent. I can create a different life – and live it. When I was younger I could never decide what I wanted to be and now that I am acting I can become many different things."
Kim landed her first international role when she was only twelve years old. After that she took a little break and started doing presenting jobs. She later returned to acting when she played Lolly De Klerk in the SABC 3 soapie Isidingo.
For Kim, Lolly is the character that deeply affected her on a personal level.
"Playing Lolly was a big thing. The character went through a lot and it was the first time I felt the power of what we do as actors. She was a troubled teen and went through a lot of things. It was a privilege to play her. People would actually come up to me and tell me they went through the same things, they identify with her."
WHAT’S IN A ROLE?
When it comes to choosing her roles one of the things at the top of the 37-year-old's list is the ability to empathise with the character and to understand her.
Her most recent roles in Dominion and the thriller Eye in the Sky were soldiers.
Speaking about what drew her to the roles she says "that it’s not always what you’re drawn to on paper".
"Maybe it’s the innate qualities that I have. Maybe I am militant in my approach. I am crass and straightforward but very soft-hearted and vulnerable. And I think that comes to the fore in the characters I play too."
In Eye of the Sky Kim starred alongside Alan Rickman and Helen Mirren but despite all her scenes being with Helen she never really met her.
"We filmed separately and in reality my character is stationed in Hawaii and Helen’s somewhere else. I was the kill agent and she speaks to me to give the okay."
Working on such a large scale film was an amazing experience for Kim.
Director Gavin Hood auditioned her for the role which she says was hard but a challenge that she was up for. "Gavin was cool. I had to paddleboard in the film and he paddleboards, so I got to paddleboard with him.”
ON THE FLASH
The first person she told after landing the role was her manager. For Kim it didn't really sink in until she got her visa and got onto the plane.
In The Flash she plays The Mechanic/Marlize DeVoe. She’s the right-hand man of The Thinker (Neil Sandilands), Flash’s nemesis in the fourth season.
"I found out later in interviews that in the comics the Mechanic was supposed to be a man. It’s really cool that I get to transcend gender roles. I can make her who I think she is and it’s nice for me to use my brain and design this character."
Kim really hopes that South African viewers will fall in love with her character: "Even though she is bad I want to tempt them to fall in love with her and that they will understand why ‘I need to do these horrible things’".
‘I WANT TO BE AT THE TOP OF MY GAME’
The one thing Kim wants to achieve in her career is to win awards: “I want to be at the top of my game along with all the greats and feel like I belong.”
While she does have future projects in the pipeline Kim is very good at keeping mum.
Her advice to people trying to make it in the industry is to never give up.
"Don’t stop trying and learn to dream more. It’s okay to dream weird and big and unrealistic because it could happen. Get a good team together, just get somebody who is in your corner who you can do the journey with because nobody gets anywhere alone."