FROM ELDO’S TO THE ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY
BY Mandisa ‘Poefficient’ Vundla |
We met up with Wayne at Scandal’s head-quarters, where he received us politely at the reception area. We spent our patience picking faces of Scandal’s production team off the wall. Protocol had us breathing a little out of sync on a couch that felt far from home. Once we were cleared, we tiptoed through the mouth of a passage into the green room and outside, the sun soothed my tension but the noise from passing cars strained my hearing. We eventually found peace of mind in Wayne’s dressing room. The place where he leaves his body behind to become the lovable Stokkies. Here he cleared the air of scripts and any obstructions and I finally felt at home as he began to share the reasons why people are so drawn to the character he embodies.
“Stokkie is a good guy with bad tendencies, he can’t help being bad. He has done some horrible things but there’s a sincerity about him. There’s a lot of research involved when prepping for a character. If you do the work at home, you get to play at work”
Actor, Wayne Van Rooyen, is now known to his fans as Stokkies on Scandal. His subtle nature defies the Eldorado Stereotype. When he opens his mouth a gentleness fills the room and I’m astounded when the Wits Graduate says: ‘I was raised in Eldo’s.’
Tell us about your upbringing
I was raised as an only child by my Mother and Grandmother. I was a shy quiet kid growing up but I always performed for my family. From singing for them to showing off my karate skills, deep down I always knew that this was my destiny. When I got to high school, I shied away from acting because there
was a stigma attached to it, that it doesn’t pay the bills and it’s a gateway to hunger.
Do you remember the first play you featured in?
I was cast in a play called Sophiatown during my High School Years. I played a character who had a
fetish for shoes, Charlie. My major turning point was when I saw my father’s friend, uncle Don Mattera in the audience, he used to call me Klein Bassie then. I never knew that Uncle Don was this renowned poet, had I known earlier, maybe i would have matured much quicker.
Post High School, van Rooyen pursued a short-lived career in advertising before acquiring a BA in dramatic arts with Honours at Wits.
“ At Wits, I felt like I lost a bit of my identity because one of our first lessons in voice training was to learn how to speak ‘properly‘ “
With all those years of Wits Training, I figured he’d know how to explain acting to a five year old. So when I asked, he simply referred to his children. The Naledi Award Winning father of two defines acting to his children as Pretending– ‘Daddy pretends for a living.’ Daddy also restricts his little ones from watching any of the programs he features in because explaining some of the journeys that his characters endure can be challenging for them to grasp and to tell apart from reality.
“Sometimes weird things happen in the storyline. Right now in Scandal I have a love interest and that would be difficult to explain to them.” Like any parent, van Rooyen is protective of his off-spring maybe that’s why his ideal role amongst many others, is that of a super hero.
It’s always interesting to know, as an actor, which performer fuels your spirit? Which actor sets you on fire when the cameras come off? van Rooyen spoke highly of Nthati Moshesh, he reminisced of a time when she was a guest lecturer at his high school. Locally he also admires Sello Maake Ka-Ncube, Kim Engelbrecht, Antony Coleman, Zane Meas and Kim Cloete for her phenomenal work ethic. Internationally he is drawn to Robert De Niro, Emma Stone, and Denzel Washington.
Having worked extensively in the T.V and Theatre industry, Wayne would love to feature in the ever evolving film formats. Just like Samual L Jackson and Morgan Freeman he would like to work constantly.
Do you still audition?
Yes, I do audition. I think it’s healthy to go for auditions. I’ve also learned to sometimes say no, that’s important because when you get to the stage where you know what you want then you don’t say yes to every role.
Are there any fun facts you would like to share with us?
I am easily excited and I like people. My wife thinks I get bored easily. I am terrified of heights and I’m claustrophobic
Wayne’s word of advice to aspiring actors is:
“Chase your happy, you don’t have to suffer for your art, BE SMART!”
Remember to catch Wayne van Rooyen, weekly as Stokkies on E.TV’s Scandal @19:30