Elzet Nel on Trompoppie: “Look forward to incredible dance routines – and unexpected twists”

7 December 2023

Elzet Nel on Trompoppie: “Look forward to incredible dance routines – and unexpected twists”

Trompoppie, the latest Showmax Original in Afrikaans, launches today with new episodes every Thursday until 8 February 2023. 

Afrikaans content has been on a roll on Showmax this year, from Donkerbos becoming the language’s first series ever selected for Berlinale Series Market Selects to Spinners becoming the continent’s first series selected for CanneSeries, and then in the last month with Spinners breaking records for the most first-day views of any Afrikaans or Kaaps series on Showmax, and Die Onderonsie setting a similar record for movies. 

Watch the trailer for Trompoppie

In Trompoppie, Luna, a talented gymnast, is awarded a bursary to a prestigious private school she could never afford, and is thrust into the cut-throat world of an elite group of drum majorettes, aka “trompoppies”. After a hazing ritual goes badly wrong, trompoppies start turning up dead and the seemingly perfect facade of the community begins to crumble.

Elzet Nel as Mindy in Trompoppie

Elzet Nel plays Mindy, the captain of the drum majorettes in Trompoppie. After being nominated for a Silwerskerm Best Supporting Actress Award for her film debut as Killer in Vaselinetjie, Nel has gone on to act in the likes of Magda Louw, Blood & Water and Die Klas van Juffrou Nellie Welgemoed. We sat down with the rising star to find out more about being part of the twisty new Showmax Original Trompoppie. 

What is Trompoppie about?

Trompoppie follows the different drummies in a drum majorette team that is trying to win the national competition, as well as everything that comes with it… the pressure, the training, school, popularity contests, and rivalry between girls. That’s how it goes when girls compete with each other, especially between the ages of 16 and 18. It’s horrible. So the series also shows how each girl deals with the pressure of all this, and how far they are willing to go to come out on top. So you can look forward to incredible dance routines – and unexpected twists.

What did you know about drum majorettes before the series?  

My mother was a drummie with the go-go boots, and the woolly hat. So I was more familiar with the concept of cheerleading, but I knew what a drummie was. Drum majorettes seem 300 000 times harder because you have batons being thrown – and some of them are even set on fire! 

Tell us more about your character.

Elzet Nel in Trompoppie

Mindy is a queen bee; she never loses, and she gets everything she wants. She is the captain of the drum majorettes, the most senior member of the team, and she is basically in charge of the school. When a new girl joins the team, Mindy obviously doesn’t like it, because she poses a threat to her. She then tries to keep her off the team – regardless of what she has to do to make it happen.

How did you prepare for your role?

Physically, I had to work out, because drummies are at their physical peak. When you are an athlete, like drummies really are, it’s like becoming a chess piece – but you have to be the smartest, most focused, fastest, most flexible chess piece in order to win the game.

Mentally, I prepared by finding the competitive part of myself and feeding on that part. It’s a bit like a drug. That competitiveness really makes you question yourself – how far are you willing to go to win? 

Especially in a school setting where everyone is the same. Everyone is equal and you have to work so hard to stand out. So what I did, mentally, is to ask myself what makes me different if each of us girls is so alike. 

Are you and your character similar? 

Maybe not on the surface – except that we look alike, of course. But because I’ve looked for character references in the deepest parts of myself, she’s like the part of me that I’ve repressed. I’m not really very competitive. I want everyone to win and I applaud everyone, where she is not like that at all. I think if I were a bitch, I’d be like Mindy!

Is there anything in particular that stands out for you as a highlight on set?

There are so many highlights. I have a whole list! 

One thing that I will never forget in my entire life was how it stormed in Cape Town. It was the middle of winter when we were shooting and the moments it wasn’t raining we tried to shoot. We were right under Table Mountain, so it was freezing, freezing, freezing cold. The crew did their best to help us keep warm, even carrying buckets of boiling water down to the field for some relief from the cold, but some of the drummies were barefoot in the mud and in the cold, and there was a moment when we all stood in one place and started jogging on the spot and singing. Like, ‘Yeah, we can get through this!’ And that’s basically how we got through the whole series: together.

Stream Trompoppie on Showmax, with new episodes every Thursday.