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Actress Chantal Stanfield talks drama, dreams and race

2009-04-21 16:19
Chantal Stanfield
25-year-old Chantal Stanfield is the new young actress in the SABC1 drama series Montana, Tuesdays, 20h30. She plays the role of Dalene Phillips, a ruthless businesswoman involved in an affair with her landlord.

"Dalene is something else!" Chantal says of her character, "When I auditioned I already liked her as a character, there was just so much to play with as an actress." Dalene is married to a wealthy councilman (coloured guy) and runs her own business (a hairdressing salon) while having an affair with her landlord (black guy). She stops at nothing to get ahead in the business world. "She’s multi-dimensional, strong, feisty, irreverent and she’ll stick a knife in your back while smiling at you!"

Chantal is no newcomer to television, she was Cecile Whittaker in SABC1's Sewende Laan and was involved in various theatre and tribute shows. But it's the ABSA Anti-Drug Initiative called "Addicted to Life" at the Baxter Theatre that she's most proud of. "That was an amazing experience and I realised on the last day of our six-week school tour that nothing I’d ever done or might ever do would have a greater, more real, direct impact on people’s lives."

Chantal studied at the UCT Drama School and has a BA in Theatre and Performance (Bilingual). So when did she choose acting? "I’ve always felt called to acting, from my first stage experience in the school play at six. It’s not something you just wake up one day and decide to do; it’s something you feel compelled to do."

The drama series is filmed in Cape Town and is set in the suburb of Montana. The series centres around four families from different backgrounds and how they cope with living in the same area for the first time since apartheid.
Chantal says she is not worried about being typecast because of her colour or race. "While I was studying I came to understand the notion of 'race' and our people’s history in this country especially the Khoi/ San and the so called 'mixed races' where the skewed idea of 'coloured' came from. My thesis in fourth year looked at 'Race' representations in South African theatre. I made a conscious choice then to be careful of stereotypical roles while at the same time acknowledging my history."

Even with the hectic schedule of shooting a TV series, Chantal says her "dreamiest dream" would be shooting a TV series during the day then performing in a stage play in the evening that included singing and dancing while at the same time organising parties and launches with her event company.

"I’m living my dream" Chantal says modestly, "I’ve been fortunate to work with many of my favourite South African performers that I’ve always looked up to and who paved the way for me  – Celeste Matthews, Denise Newman, June Van Merch, Peter Butler, Natalia Da Rocha, Antoinette Kellerman and Sandra Prinsloo, to name but a few."

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