Lea Vivier on her SAFTA-nominated role in the hit Showmax Original DAM

16 February 2023

Lea Vivier on her SAFTA-nominated role in the hit Showmax Original DAM

DAM S2 is now ready to binge on Showmax. 

Created by four-time SAFTA winner Alex Yazbek, the first season of the twisty and twisted thriller was one of the 10 most-watched titles of 2021 on Showmax and the most nominated drama series at the 2022 SAFTAs, earning rave reviews for breaking the mould of South African TV. 

It’s now three months after the Spring Festival. The cult’s ritual sacrifice seems to have worked: rain has come and transformed the land. Yola has no memory of anything since her return for her father’s funeral. Can she put the missing pieces together as diamonds are discovered, a mass grave uncovered and a monster surfaces in the dam?

Lea Vivier and Pallance Dladla return in their SAFTA-nominated roles as Yola and Themba, with Natasha Loring reprising her SAFTA-winning role as Yola’s sister, Sienna. Made in partnership with Picture Tree and the Eastern Cape Development Corporation, the Showmax Original also won Best Art Direction for Sue Steele at the 2022 SAFTAs. 

TV Mzansi says, “DAM S2 is a worthy follow-up to its exceptional predecessor. It’s just as compelling as the first season: a perfect blend of drama, horror and suspense.”

Shot in Adelaide and Bedford in the Eastern Cape, DAM also stars SAFTA winners Antoinette Louw, Thembisa Mdoda and Tarryn Wyngaard; Fleur du Cap winner and Africa Movie Academy Award nominee Faniswa Yisa; Laudo Liebenberg, Francis Chouler, and Gerald Steyn; and SAFTA nominees Jennifer Steyn, Andre Odendaal and Marvin-Lee Beukes. 

We caught up with Lea to find out more about the hit Showmax Original.

How was the reaction to S1? 

I had a wide variety of individuals stopping me in lots of different places and saying, ‘Are you Yola from DAM? We enjoyed the story so much. It was an incredible ensemble and felt authentically South African.” 

People seemed to really enjoy the fact that it was a whole bunch of different South Africans coming together and telling one story, together in our different languages, with different cultural heritages. We aren’t telling a story in isolation from one another anymore; it’s a beautiful ensemble work.

How did it feel when DAM was nominated for 11 SAFTAs last year? 

It was surprising, especially because DAM came out a year and a half before the SAFTA nominations. So I wasn’t expecting that amount. And of course, we were all very happy and grateful. When you do TV and film, you don’t get audience applause, as you do on stage, so it is lovely to be recognised for your work and to know that people appreciate the craft and the blood, sweat and many tears that went into it.

How would you define DAM? 

It’s a psychological thriller, with a lot of magical realism influences. 

It’s fresh. It’s a South African story that I haven’t seen before on our screens. 

What was the biggest challenge for you this season? 

All the underwater scenes. I actually had to do an entry level scuba course in order for me to execute all the underwater scenes. I’m claustrophobic and not a good swimmer at all, so that was very challenging. I don’t know why people keep casting me in swimming projects. I can doggy paddle.

Why should people watch the new season?

Because Season 1 ended on a huge cliffhanger. 

And because we’re trying to find a truthful South African way of making television. It’s not just trying to emulate what Americans do or what other people have done in other industries. It’s trying to find our own authentic South African footprint. 

If you weren’t an actor, what would you be? 

I would probably be in the circus. I would want to be a trapeze artist. Or I would be a psychologist, but I feel like that’s a very boring answer. So I went for circus.

What’s your dream role?

I’ve been privileged enough that all my roles have been phenomenal. But something that I would really love to do, that I haven’t done up until now, is a role that requires so many prosthetics and changes in my appearance that when I look in the mirror, I don’t recognise myself at all. That would be really exciting and I think it would enable me to explore a different dimension to acting. 

Your favourite shows?

There are so many brilliant shows out there, but currently, my favourites are The White Lotus Season 1 and 2, along with Succession. I’m a huge fan of Brian Cox and recently read his biography… It’s a masterclass in acting and how to approach the film and television industry.

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