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New role leads to new skill

Pole-dancing now all in a day’s work for Nicole Bessick

Nicole Bessick is no stranger to the entertainment industry, having made an impressive impact on our TV screens in the past couple of years. The Actress, Celebrity Boxing Champion and Marie Claire Future Shaper have all received  impressive accolades.

South African audiences know her best as Chloe on the hit e.tv telenovela, Broken Vows, but it’s her latest role in Binnelanders that’s got everyone talking.

Nicole plays Xenia Samuels, a fierce, feisty, passionate woman who says what she means, and means what she says. As a teenager, Xenia became addicted to drugs, and blames her father for all her woes. She now works in a strip club – a world far removed from her conventional Christian home. As a ‘functional junky’, she feels her life is now her own and has no intention of going back to the oppression and judgement she felt at home.

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We asked Nicole if she felt any pressure going into this new role. ‘Not at all!  Playing such a daring character is always a bit touch-and-go, but I’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by the response so far. As an artist, it’s important to remember that to you it may be a character, but it’s real life for others. Someone out there is living the life you’re playing on TV, so maybe that’s where the pressure comes in. I always want to be truthful about the characters I play. My only interest in the preparation for Xenia was making sure I played her truthfully and to breathe life into her without falling into any sort of stereotype.’

As an artist today, it’s important to separate the on-screen world from reality, which is what Nicole Bessick does best. She looks at on-screen life the same way someone else would see a 9-5 job. She works hard at it and is passionate about it, but doesn’t take it home with her. There are times when ‘a tough day of crying and digging deep can sit on your heart’, but for the most part, Nicole tries her best to leave her character in the dressing room.

Nicole, the epitome of beauty and brains, holds an Honours degree from UCT, specialising in intellectual property. When it comes to acting, she does physical and vocal warm-ups to release tension and prepare mind and body for the day of work.

When it came to reading the character brief Nicole felt an immediate connection to Xenia.

‘There’s so much more to her than just working a pole. She’s feisty,  brave and protects her loved ones with her life. We have a great deal in common, so stepping into her shoes was easy,’ she says.

Pole-dancing is highlighted in the character brief, as well as showcased on screen.  In order to play the character authentically and get a better understanding of who Xenia is, Nicole dedicated time and effort to understanding the craft of pole-dancing before filming started.

‘I’m quite athletic, so physical activity comes quite easily to me… but pole is on a whole different level! I’ve never experienced exercise that challenges my body the way pole does. Staying fit and keeping in shape does a lot for strengthening the mind, which really helped me here,’ Nicole explains.

When it comes to the role of Xenia, Nicole hopes it offers people who may already be familiar with her work, an opportunity to see her in a new light. Xenia is her first Afrikaans-speaking role and she believes audiences don’t realise she’s  bilingual.

Catch Nicole Bessick on Binnelanders daily, on Kyknet at 7.30pm.


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