Blyde Smit on playing Luca in Troukoors (Wedding Fever)

1 May 2021

Blyde Smit on playing Luca in Troukoors (Wedding Fever)

Blyde Smit plays the part of Luca, Jessica’s younger sister, in Showmax Original rom-com series Troukoors (Wedding Fever), now streaming. (Jessica is portrayed by Ilse-Lee van Niekerk). Luca is a bit of a geek, fluent in Klingon and a bit ditzy when it comes to romance. Smit is a well-known face on the small screen – she made her name as the ten-year-old Kate in the first two seasons of the drama series Erfsondes and more recently in the soap 7de Laan as Gabby. Her love interests in Troukoors are played by Andahr Cotton, Evan Hengst and David Viviers.

Watch: Troukoors Season 2, streaming from 5 May 2022

Did you relate to your character, Luca?

I enjoy playing Luca immensely. If I had to describe her, I’d say she’s a little bit alternative, and she is very interested in geeky stuff. She can speak Klingon (an imaginary language from Star Trek), she plays Dungeons & Dragons and she also created her own board game, Escape from Black Mountain.

She’s a software developer, so she’s very intelligent and she works with her head. Where Abi relies on her gut, and Jessica (as the main character) relies on her heart, my character is very logical: she works from the head. Sometimes that makes her a little emotionally inexperienced. She’s a bit of a ditz when it comes to emotion, very up and down. She doesn’t always know how to handle a situation.

She also has a lot of tattoos! I don’t have any tattoos, so I spent quite a bit of time in the makeup chair every day. She’s also quite shy, but in terms of her relationship with her sister and her friend Abi, they get along really well and there’s a comfort there. Jessica and Abi are almost mother figures to her. Because Jessica and her parents are deceased, it’s Jessica and Abi that teach her about life and love.

How are you the same as, or different from, Luca?

It was very important to me to do justice to the character. Because she is so up and down with her emotions, it was important to me to play her in a believable way without becoming stereotypical. I channelled a lot of my own inner nerd and geekiness. I love board games, so it was fantastic sharing that with Luca. And I found an interesting way of sitting for her. She always sits on her feet, even if she’s sitting in a chair. She basically sits in a little ball. I put together a little book where I analysed her character, and I wrote out her whole storyline so I could know where she is, because she goes through a massive growth process. She grows and learns throughout and becomes very grown-up, so it was important to me to approach it from the right angle.

I’d hope that I’m more emotionally mature than she is, especially in the way that I handle conflict. I don’t know if I can say that with certainty, but the main way we’re different is that I’m a little more open-minded than she is, especially when it comes to listening. Once she’s gotten something into her head, that’s it. And she can throw quite a tantrum! I don’t think my mother would agree that I’m different in that way. She’d tell you I also throw tantrums.

What was it like, being one of three leading ladies? 

Blyde and Ilse-Lee Smit on the set of Troukoors

I was thinking about this just the other day, and what makes it so beautiful to me – these three women represent three different types of women in South Africa. The complexity of womanhood. If I start with the Jessica character, what’s so beautiful to me about her character is that she’s this really strong woman. She had to support her sister after their parents died, but she is also very ambitious and focused on her career. She has dreams for her life, and I think what remains important to her throughout the story, is to not lose herself in a man. That’s something that is represented by Jessica throughout the entire series.

Abi’s character is extremely sex-positive, so she’s very open and free when it comes to relationships. She follows her passion. She works at her passion. All three of them do that. But Abi is also the one who teaches my character a lot about relationships. Where my sister supports me emotionally in my ups and downs and with family things, Abi’s character is more motherly in terms of relationships.

My character is the most conservative of the three, which I find very interesting. She dresses like Billie Eilish, so she has an alternative wardrobe and the way she wears her hair … lots of interesting influences. What’s beautiful about her character, is that she does fall in love in the end, and the relationship develops very quickly. There are a lot of things that happen between them, and you won’t know whether they end up together right up until the end. Luca is a bit of a penguin, if I can put it that way. If she chooses someone, then that’s it.

Is it relatable?

What makes the whole series so beautiful is how family is represented in a very unconventional way. It’s an honest representation of modern families coming from divorce, death and people who aren’t blood relatives becoming family.

It touches on important subjects concerning relationships – not only the types of relationships we have, but also how we navigate them, how we make choices, and how we process the trauma and changes in life. It’s also nice and light, although there are serious moments. We take the viewer on a whole journey. You laugh with them initially, and then it switches to a heavier and more emotional journey.

Why did you accept the part?

I was hungry to play a bit. I didn’t have a lot of hope that I’d get the part, but I just wanted to make the audition fun for myself. I think Louis and Albert (Louis Pretorius and Albert Snyman) write exceptionally well and with so much depth. Nothing just gets said. Everything is important and everything contributes to the story.

The way they explain the context and background to the viewers without saying anything outright – they bring it in with such subtlety that it feels completely natural. I prepared for the audition for a long time. I even learned to speak Klingon. We taped my audition and sent it in, but I didn’t think I’d get it. Then my agent told me, “Listen, you’re shortlisted.”

I asked her if they wanted me to fly down (to Cape Town, from where she lives in Johannesburg) for the callbacks, but she said I don’t have a callback. I asked her what that meant. I thought maybe I was number four on the list, and they’ll ask me if the first three on the list can’t do it.  But no, I was straight through. They loved how I approached the character. I was so elated, so excited, I can’t tell you. So thankful.

How did you go from Die Laan to the Winelands?

I worked for 7de Laan for two and a half years and I learned an awful lot. They taught me how to memorise words really fast, which is a big blessing. Also, how to retain continuity, and I’ll always carry that with me. But what this has taught me is how to be adaptable. We switch locations often, and I’m working with so many new actors. That is a big difference, I’d say. Also, how you shoot it. With a soap, you come in, you shoot, you’re done. With a series, you do it over and over.

What was also fun for me is how quickly we became a family here. The cast list is incredibly long. It was a great honour for me to be working with these people who I looked up to when I was younger, thinking I’d give anything to work with them. Now, these people feel like my family. Especially the actors I work with regularly, they feel like family, and that’s really special. I haven’t had a lot of set experiences like that. It’s my first time in a TV series as an adult, and it was incredibly enjoyable.

What was the impact of the intimacy coordinator on set?

Oh wow. It was so cool. I’m so glad we’re doing this in South Africa. I’m so happy we’re in a space now where we’re bringing them in. I would like to be one and I want to do a course. I can say in all honesty that it was such a pleasure working with them, because they help everyone on set to feel safe.  Not just the actors, but also the crew members, making sure they feel safe too, because someone may feel very comfortable in their body, but one of the crew members may be uncomfortable. So, it helped to make everyone aware of the intimacy of a scene.

What was Nina Swart like as a director?

What a joy! That’s the best word I can use. Nina approached directing in such a lovely way.

It’s easy to talk to her; you can easily say to her “Nina, I’m not sure about this.” She’s open to you challenging her on a choice she made if you feel that’s not how your character would act. She’s also great at holding space.

She doesn’t just do a thing. She thinks very carefully about how she approaches everything, and that also makes it feel like a good team working together. Everyone is equally invested in serving the story. She wouldn’t say “Cut!” and “Happiness, we’re moving on” if she wasn’t 100% happy, and I trust her with that. She brings a lot of spirit.

What challenges were there?

I knew there would be intimate scenes, but I didn’t realise it would be my scenes too! They asked me upfront if I was okay with that, and it’s one thing to say yes and a whole different thing when it actually happens. My biggest challenge was making good on my words, because I’m all for body positivity, but when it comes to my own body. I’m quite hard on myself. So, to allow myself to say, “We’re going to do this now, and it’s okay, and you look okay and it’s okay, and everyone will hold the space and this is part of the story and it’s a great story and it’s actually an honour.”

Watch it … 

… because it’s such an honest representation of modern households and modern women who are trying to figure out themselves and their lives at the same time, together and by themselves. I don’t think we’ve had anything like this in South Africa before. The way it’s filmed, the way it’s written, and the way we play it is very interesting. I believe that there are people who will identify with these characters. 

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