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‘Reyka’ star Kim Engelbrecht is the talk of the town and has SA’s film world at her feet

Actress Kim Engelbrecht has been the recent talk of the town for her many TV projects.

Her new crime drama, “Reyka”, in which she stars as the lead, aired on M-Net and she has also just bagged a role on the second season of Ridley Scott’s HBO series “Raised by Wolves” and was on set as I interviewed her.

Many people may remember Engelbrecht from the popular soapie “Isidingo”, but after that international doors opened for her. It has been a decade of Engelbrecht actively courting and winning over Hollywood.

She has starred in “Dominion”, which saw her build a cult following with her character, Noma, “The Flash” and also bagged a role on the Gavin Hood directed thriller, “Eye in the Sky”, which also starred Dame Helen Mirren.

And now she’s back home, starring in her first South African drama since SABC2’s “Geraamtes in die Kas”.

Engelbrecht’s love for her career is what keeps her motivated and moving forward and it’s something that shows significantly in her roles.

“I feel entirely self-fulfilled when I am on a set, reading a script, or trying to figure out a fascinating character. I have become good at designing a personality for these fictitious characters,“ she says.

The star constantly challenges herself even though she remains both excited and fearful.

She says travelling the world to work on great projects and meeting and working with incredible people in the industry is also a big motivator.

“I always wanted a career that saw me working both locally and internationally. It excites me to have the ability to work in different accents and other geographical spaces.

“Forcing yourself out of your comfort zone is what actors do all the time. Breaking our glass ceiling is part of our job,” she said.

In “Reyka”, Engelbrecht plays a criminal profiler on the hunt for a brutal serial killer in the cane fields of KwaZulu-Natal.

The series was created by Rohan Dickson, who also created M-Net’s groundbreaking “The Wild” in 2011.

“She is on the precipice of a new beginning in her personal life and dealing with her unthinkable, and very painful past.

“I was highly intrigued by the multi-faceted psychology of the character.Reyka’ is not just one thing – it is a procedural psychological cop drama as well as a complex family drama, while also being a convoluted love story. It was one of those scripts that I could not put down,” says Engelbrecht.

Kim Engelbrecht in “Reyka”. Picture: Supplied

To play such an intricate role she was given an extensive character bible.

“It dealt with Reyka’s entire life, psychology, mannerisms, and human nature. I also drew on personal experiences, and the script allowed me to dig into the deepest parts of myself.

I loved working with directors Zee Ntuli (“Hard to Get”) and Catherine Cooke (“The Girl from St Agnes”) in creating this highly complex character,“ she said.

Engelbrecht referred to the series as “highly gripping and will leave you at the edge of your seat”.

“It is very well-acted by the entire ensemble. The story is dark and disturbing at times, and the subject matter is not for the faint of heart.

“Yet, the storyline is so realistic that you have no other option but to be absorbed into the world of KwaZulu-Natal with its breathtaking and sometimes eerie landscape,” she said.

“Reyka” boasts an all star cast, which includes Leeanda Reddy, Thando Thabethe, Hamilton Dlamini, Kenneth Nkosi, Suraya Rose Santos and “Game of Thrones” star Iain Glen.

It premiered at the Monte Carlo Television Festival last month.

About her other project, “Raised by Wolves”, Engelbrecht said being part of a show directed and executive produced by Ridley Scott was a dream come true.

“I am very excited. It was a breath of fresh air moving from the intense schedule and story of ’Reyka’ that is so much rooted in the reality of the KwaZulu-Natal landscape, to then placing myself on a mysterious, fictional planet,” she said.

Engelbrecht is very much into sci-fi and says she feels completely absorbed when playing these characters.

“I found myself in a post-apocalyptic world with ’Dominion’, while ’The Flash’ explored different universes that exist on earth.

“I feel very comfortable placing myself in these unlived circumstances, having the opportunity to stretch my imagination to a world beyond what we have experienced.

“Sci-fi gives me the chance to play with time and space and to jump the lines between the known and unknown,” she said.

In “Raised by Wolves” she will portray the character Decima, a highly educated and prominent weapons scientist and developer who undertook highly immoral actions to succeed.

“The definition of Decima, or a decima, is a 10-line stanza poem. What is intriguing is to see how her poem ends?

“She is notoriously ruthless but still carries the guilt with her. Decima’s character is highly compelling, and she contributes extensively to the show’s narrative arc,” she added.

Despite the entertainment industry being hard hit due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, Engelbrecht is grateful for work during this challenging time, especially work that is right on her doorstep.

“It is very exciting that such incredible international productions are happening right on our doorstep, allowing our film industry to showcase their world-class standards.

“There is such a vibrant South African spirit on this fantastic international set. The natural beauty of SA makes it the perfect location for global productions, and the strong work ethic of the local production teams makes it a destination for filmmakers worldwide,“ she said.

“Reyka” premiered on M-Net on Sunday, July 25.

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