In a colorful living room, filled with a lifetime of collectibles and memories, Rika Sennett sits and keeps a close eye on her garden and what it houses.
Acting trophies that she and her husband, James Borthwick, have collected over the years, photos of loved ones, handmade cards, exotic books and figurines that come from the corners of the world fill the room that overlooks her huge green garden.
It’s hard not to think of the stories that each of these objects represent. Rika admits herself, she couldn’t imagine her life without it.
“That’s for sure clutter,” she said.
“But every thing tells a story. And, you know, if my memory starts to fail, then I need these memories.”
Rika recently appeared in 30 episodes of the kykNET telenovelas, Deep watersplayed and is currently in the hit soap opera, Domestics, to see. It was a challenge to put on her soap shoes again, she admits. For soap opera actors she has an indescribable wonder and respect.
“I had to get the playing muscles nice and flexible again to keep up with them,” says Rika, who celebrated her 71st birthday this year.
Of course, this is not the first time she has worked with Hans Strydom, who plays the iconic dr. At Koster acting, does not work. At the very beginning of television in South Africa, she recalls, she and Hans worked together on the film, Case of separationputs Fred Nel as manager.
She recalls the experience almost as if it happened yesterday – in this movie she played a cabaret dancer whose husband, played by Hans, becomes suspicious of her actions.
Her first series turnaround time, written by Jan Scholtz, also stands out for her as a wonderful highlight of her career. Two journalists from opposing newspapers forging relationships of hostility and romance at the same time.
“But they deleted all that stuff,” she says.
“It was such a good series.”
Years ago, the SABC deleted numerous films and series to make room on the film for new projects. Unfortunately did turnaround timelike many other early productions, remained in the process.
She remembers with one of the early productions how they flew to Israel and sailed by ship past the Seychelles and Mauritius to the Durban harbour.
Colour, interest and quality are just some of the qualities that these exotic shooting periods and locations have added to productions, says Rika. She has a treasure chest full of colorful anecdotes, especially about her days as a ballerina in the hit series, Behind every man.
“Frans Marx colored it so beautifully. We shot at the state theater against all these different backgrounds.”
Time is a commodity that has changed form since the start of Rika’s career in the late 1970s. On Snip and Chili Pepperthe ever-popular Afrikaans film to which Rika can attribute her fame to this day, they shot for three months.
That is why she is slightly disillusioned when she talks about the three full-length feature films she worked on alone in February. Of these shooting periods, only seven days took until completion. To some extent, it is managed, she says, but she wonders about the production value that can be drawn from a filming period of one week.
“You have to work quickly and economically. The speed at which technicians and players have to work makes me wonder if it is sustainable.”
Recently, Rika has acted in numerous series, Silver Screen films and kykNET story films.
Due to the fickle nature of their work, Rika and her husband, James, could never build up a solid nest egg.
“We’re going to work until the day we die.”
However, she does not shy away, the bounce in her step indicates a zest for life that will not simply disappear. Along with that, she and her husband do not have any debt, and the Northcliff residence with the giant green garden has been paid off in full.
Conversations easily wander to this impressive garden that she sits and gazes over in the mornings while drinking coffee. Over the years, this garden has also become home to many types of birds.
“It’s a wild garden. I like to control it a bit, but I let the plants do their own thing, most of the time.”
“But it’s green and peaceful – I live in an oxygen tent.”
A few years ago, Rika and James toured with the Andrew Lloyd Webber company to the corners of the world for productions such as The Sound of Music in Phantom of the Opera to sit on the stage.
Seeing the world is definitely something Rika has always wanted to do, she admits, but her work never fully allowed it. In this touring company, she and James were not only able to quench their itch to travel, but they were able to perform on stages around the world.
During one of the tours, Rika had the opportunity to visit with one of her daughters on a ship in Ha Long Bay, in Vietnam, where her daughter taught school.
“I have never seen anything like this in my life,” she says, while also making a recommendation to visit this bay with the peaceful inhabitants.
Seeing young people enter the industry is great for Rika. However, it’s hard to look at them without thinking of her own first few films.
Wena Naudé, a cornerstone of the Afrikaans film and theater industry, was one of Rika’s beacons of light that she followed closely. Wena, an acting icon who became national property in her own career, still stands out as a mentor to Rika.
These two actresses have grandmother and granddaughter in them Snip and Chili Pepper played, and then shared the screen a few times.
“A very nice, honest and natural player – ideal for films, of course,” she recalls and describes Wena.
“She guided me and took pity on me. She was a generous actress – she received me with openness and through her example I realized what level I was on.”
Rika remembers that with that first film she had just closed her books – books that focused on theater work. Films, she explains, are much more intimate, something that Wena illustrated with the kick-in.
“For her I say thank you. I hope that what she was to me, I can also be to others.”
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