One of the first things that you notice about Lea Vivier is how she lives with her whole heart. She takes on every role, on screen and in her personal life, with hot passion.
A relative newcomer to the entertainment industry, Lea Vivier has already unleashed some of the Afrikaans industry’s most prestigious roles. She plays Lika Bosch in Binnelanders, Salomé in Mense Mense and Waitress in the millennial art film, Wonderlus. For her last-mentioned role she was awarded best actress at last year’s kykNET Silwerskerm Fees.
Her career is certainly heading for the stars, but her feet are firmly planted on the ground. Lea is an actress because there is a fire in her heart for the craft, not because she wants the praise, fame or star status.
Dancing to Don Omar
Lea tells how she, after matric, struggled with the decision on what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. There are so many options, how do you know what the right one is? She packed her heart in a bag and climbed on a plane to Chile to find herself, but then, as she puts it, she actually lost herself in the best possible way.
In South America, Lea tasted and tried and tested, and so, through the process of elimination, figured out what she likes and what makes her tick in life. She tells with a broad smile how she danced in Chile to the tune of Don Omar’s reggaeton music till who-knows-how-late in the morning.
One can see why Lea loved Chile so much, the people there are just as passionate as she is! She describes them as warm, open and with the same family values as us South Africans. However, after a year, she returned to her hometown and to her people.
First, she began studying a degree in Languages, as she had learned Spanish in Chile, but the stage was calling her. She packed and moved to Grahamstown to study at drama at Rhodes University. The Rhodes course is known for its movement theater and, as a dancer and gymnast, it was what attracted Lea.
During her student years, she enjoyed working on her craft and creating her own work and pushing her creativity. Today, like many other creatives, she lives in the Johannesburg suburb of Linden. I meet her in a busy coffee shop for the interview, but as usual, she is more interested in how it goes with me than talking about herself. Lea loves people and is fond of their stories.
She is people person…Mens Mens
It is from other people’s stories where Lea also gets much of her inspiration. She is interested in their emotional worlds and is fascinated by their experiences. As an actress, she is also very aware of what goes on in her own emotional world – what she feels, why she feels like that, what are her fears, what makes her excited. Not only does it make her psychically strong, but she knows her emotional range is part of her acting toolbox. She pours her whole being into every character she interprets.
When it comes to her fellow actors, Lea has a very comfortable aura and it turns out she has chemistry with anyone on earth, from Sandra Prinsloo to Bobby van Jaarsveld. She writes this down to the motto: “acting is reaction”. On set or on stage she considers the person to whom she acts with as more important than herself. She works off their energy and makes sure she responds to what they bring to the scene.
The creative thinker
This human orientation also revolves around her personal life. She is an independent modern young woman who carved a life for herself, but she does not care to admit she needs a tribe. Lea enjoys her own company and can spend hours in the park with her nose in a book park (Isabel Allende’s House of Spirits is her favorite), but she insists people need each other. She quotes Into the Wild when she says: “Happiness is only real when shared”. She has exceptional friends in Johannesburg with whom she shares her life, but she also miss her family in the Cape.
She especially misses Sundays at home, Billie Holiday playing in the background, food son the stove, and the compassion of a table of people who laugh together, chat and share joy. Lea says she is very happy that her family is familiar with the entertainment industry, and thus understand what specific challenges are associated with her line of work. She remembers how she regularly went to the theater when she was a child. Both her mother and sister, Trix, are actresses. She feels very supported by her family.
Keep moving, keep chasing your dreams
Lea believes it is of utmost importance to keep moving. A literal manifestation of this is that she is currently preparing to run her first marathon, but it is also a life motto. She believes in pushing herself, never to be comfortable, otherwise she will stagnate. One has to go on in life, push through and keep challenging yourself. I immediately wonder if she is not afraid to leave behind the people she loves so much, but she reminds me. Sure, there are people you care about who are moving at a different pace or in a different direction, but she thinks there is something special and beautiful to regard the end of a relationship as nothing negative, but to be seen as a privilege you had to love someone. It’s an opportunity, even though it’s so fleet.
For now, at this moment, Lea feels she has everything. And it includes a bag of dreams. She would like to work behind the camera and become a director. She confesses that she is fascinated by the mechanics of filming. She would like to keep working, continue to act and build a sustainable career in industry. But most of all, Lea wants to inspire people through the stories she tells.