By Gen Terblanche9 November 2023
Meet the cast and characters of Spinners
The award-winning Showmax Original drama series Spinners takes you inside the pulse-pounding, tyre-smoking motorsport world of spinning in the Cape Flats.
Watch the trailer for Spinners
To support his family, 17-year-old Ethan (Cantona James) takes a job as a driver with local Lavender Hill gang boss Damien (Elton Landrew). But Ethan discovers a new stage for his driving skills when spinning crew mechanic Shane (Dillon Windvogel) shows him what you can really do with a set of wheels. Ethan has to choose his future and his destiny, as he gets pulled deeper into both dangerous worlds.
Filmed on location in Lavender Hill on the Cape Flats, Spinners won three awards at Dakar Series, including Best TV Series; received standing ovations in Cannes, Paris and at Silwerskerm in Cape Town; and was the opening night screening at MIP Africa, generating rave reviews.
Spinners is co-created by producer Joachim Landau and showrunner Benjamin Hoffman of Empreinte Digitale, with the story developed and head written by SAFTA and Silwerskerm winners Sean Steinberg and Matthew Jankes. The 16LVPD-rated English/Kaaps/Afrikaans series is co-produced by Locarno, Amiens and FESPACO winner Ramadan Suleman (Zulu Love Letter, Fools) from Natives at Large, Spinners’ local co-production company. Yaseen Damon was the spinning advisor and coordinator.
Watch Spinners on Showmax now, with new episodes each Wednesday.
Who’s who in Spinners
Ethan – Cantona James
Dad’s dead, mom’s an addict, and his eight-year-old brother Byron’s (Jihaad Otto) survival depends on 17-year-old Ethan stepping up. But the only person who’s paying kids to work in his hood is gang leader Damien, who sends Ethan on deadly and dangerous jobs as a driver, following in his father’s tracks. To blow off steam, Ethan turns to his new passion, spinning, an extreme motorsport in which he can put his driving skills to better use.
Who plays Ethan? Cantona James (with stunt driver Yaseen Damon, spin double Nithaar Brenner, and Naeem Isaacs as the eight-year-old Ethan).
How old is Cantona James? 25.
Where is he from? Johannesburg, but he now lives in the Cape.
Where did he study? Stellenbosch University. He won the 2020 Fleur du Cap prize for Most Promising Student, but dropped out in his final year because he’d landed a major role.
What else has Cantona James been in? Arendsvlei fans already knew he could own the screen as Daniel Lafras, which scored him a Best Newcomer nomination at the Royalty Soapie Awards in 2020. And for niche appeal, he was the star-crossed vampire lover Lorenzo in Net Ons.
Is Cantona married? No, not yet – he’s only 25, guys.
What else to know? Cantona was named after the football star Eric Cantona. Growing up, his father didn’t approve of him going to spinning events, which took place on his school grounds.
Damien – Elton Landrew
This complex, street-tough gang leader is quick to beat down disrespect, fists first. But if you’re one of his chosen brothers, you have his loyalty for life, and he’ll take on anyone to protect you, from the gangs to the cops. He becomes a twisted father figure to Ethan, but he has more than one deadly secret up his sleeve, and no scruples when it comes to gang business.
Who plays Damien? Elton Landrew.
How old is Elton Landrew? 48.
Where is he from? He was born in Nababeep, Namaqualand, partly raised in Namibia, and now works in Cape Town but lives in Namaqualand.
Where did he study? He went to school in Bergsig, then moved to the Cape to study at the Waterfront Theatre School.
What else has Elton Landrew been in? Aside from being an acclaimed and award-winning stage and musical theatre actor, he’s Piet Kasin the cop in Recipes for Love and Murder, Steve Mortlock in Arendsvlei (Elton believes Steve is quite similar to Damien), Simon in Suidooster, Koos in Sara se Geheim, and Odneal Pakkies in Ellen: The Ellen Pakkies Story.
Is Elton married? He’s not saying.
What else to know? Elton actually wanted to leave acting because the environment at the Waterfront Theatre School was so English that he felt like a misfit, but his parents insisted that he continue because they’d paid the fees. And when David Kramer came to his school looking for actors for his Musical Kat and the Kings, he snapped up Elton.
Amber – Chelsea Thomas
Ethan’s scrappy friend and rival is as playful and sharp-witted as she is talented. She pushes Ethan to be better, faster and stronger, and to make better decisions. There’s nothing to bond you like a shared passion, and Amber is the best female spinner in the country.
Who plays Amber? Chelsea Thomas (with spinning double Kayla Olifant).
How old is Chelsea Thomas? 22.
Where is she from? She grew up in Kraaifontein on the Cape Flats.
Where did she study? Northlink College, where she won the Pearson’s Top Achiever Award for Best Actress, and she took workshops at The Stage Performing Arts Studio.
Is Chelsea Thomas married? No.
What else to know? Growing up around spinning in Kraaifontein, Chelsea only ever saw men spinning, so she was thrilled to discover that women (like her spinning double Kayla Olifant) now lead the sport – even though Chelsea personally failed her drivers’ licence twice!
Hercules – Brendon Daniels
Damien’s right hand man is more like a right first to the face. Hercules is unrelenting, cruel and ever-ready to dish out violence. His life revolves around the gang and there are no grey areas with Hercules, it’s all red flags instead. Cross him and suffer.
Who plays Hercules? Brendon Daniels.
How old is Brendon Daniels? He matriculated in 1991.
Where is he from? Eerste River and Blackheath in Cape Town. He went to school in Elsies River.
Where did he study? He came up through eisteddfods and church productions, and landed his first paying role on stage in the opera Il Trovatore in 1992.
What else has Brendon Daniels been in? His multiple awards include the 2018 Kyknet Silwerskermfees Best Actor winner for Cowboy Dan, and the 2015 SAFTA Best Supporting Actor winner for Four Corners. He was Donovan and James in Fraksie, George in Spoorloos S4, Piet Panga in Desert Rose, Captain Krige in Arendsvlei, and he was nominated for a Best Actor SAFTA as Trevor Fortune in Skemerdans.
Is Brendon married? He’s not saying.
What else to know? Brendon loves driving but with the price of petrol these days, he’s not doing anything fancy, just trying to get from A to B! PS: the first job he kept was as a hospital cleaner.
Kayla – Melanie du Bois
Ethan has a complicated relationship with his mother. Her addiction problem comes and goes like her sense of responsibility, and so does her boyfriend, Elton (Clifford Young) – a man Ethan despises. But when Kayla steps up to protect her boys, we’ll see what she’s really made of, and why Ethan is still in her corner. But does she deserve Ethan’s forgiveness, or is she a deadbeat mom after all?
Who plays Kayla? Melanie Du Bois (with stunt double Chantel Smith).
How old is Melanie Du Bois? 48.
Where is she from? She was born in Riverlea, Johannesburg but now lives in Cape Town.
Where did she study? She has a diploma in Public Relations from Technikon Witwatersrand, and a diploma in Drama as well as an Associates Teachers Diploma in Drama through Trinity College.
Is Melanie married? She’s raising her daughter Roxy as a single mom.
What else to know? Melanie has bipolar disorder and advocates for people seeking support for mental illness after suffering a devastating family tragedy in 2015.
Nazeem – David Isaacs
This hard-nosed policeman is prepared to take his fight against crime to the streets, and tests the limits of the law in his attempts to clean up the community. He’s efficient, tough and unflappable, but run down by cynicism and a kind of hopelessness from fighting an endless battle against poverty and gangsterism.
Who plays Nazeem? David Isaacs.
How old is David Isaacs? He started studying at UCT in 1993, so…
Where is he from? Parkwood in Cape Town.
Where did he study? He has a diploma in Speech and Drama from UCT.
What else has David Isaacs been in? Aside from multiple award-winning theatrical roles starting with the KKNK and Skouerklop-winning Joe Barber (which he co-wrote and performed with Oscar Petersen), he was Peter in Dwaalster, Desmond and Duikie in Sara se Geheim, and he’s the co-writer-creator of SAFTA-nominated comedy series G.I.L.
Is David married? He’s married to Ndoni Khanyile (Tali’s #JoburgDiary). They met on the set of Skeem in 2011.
What else to know? He was raised in a family of musicians, started playing piano at age four, and sang for the St Georges’ Cathedral choir at the age of seven.
Phumeza – Katlego Lebogang
This young, compassionate detective hasn’t been hardened by years on the force yet. She’s called in to lead an investigation into an incident involving the gangs and walks into a situation in which she’s the only woman in the department. Phumeza is driven by her faith, which guides her determination to do what’s right, and she seems to take a shine to Ethan.
Who plays Phumeza? Katlego Lebogang.
How old is Katlego Lebogang? 27.
Where is she from? Johannesburg.
Where did she study? Katlego Lebogang has a BA Honours in Theatre & Performance from UCT.
Is Katlego married? If she is, it’s a secret.
What else to know? She’s wanted to act since she was nine years old and loved the chance to play a cop with a gun.
Shane – Dillon Windvogel
Shane and Ethan might meet by accident, but everything after that is deliberate! The mechanic of the spinning team is very fond of Ethan, shows him the ropes, and tries his utmost to keep in contact with him or reach out to him when he worries about Ethan’s fate. The longer they work together, the more a brotherhood grows. While Shane’s father, Gary, tries to keep him under his thumb, Shane is becoming his own man and earning respect through his skill with cars.
Who plays Shane? Dillon Windvogel.
How old is Dillon Windvogel? 24.
Where is he from? Cape Town.
Where did he study? He matriculated from Belhar High School in 2017.
What else has Dillon Windvogel been in? He landed his first role as Ashwin in kyNET & kie dance drama series DanZ while he was still in Matric. He was Tackies in Sara se Geheim, and he’s Vernon in Arendsvlei,
Is Dillon married? No.
Gary – Keeno Lee Hector
Shane’s father is quite close to the spinning team and acts as a mentor. Guided by protective instinct and street smarts, he steps in to separate Ethan from Shane when he sees Ethan getting pulled into the undertow of the street gangs. And he’s prepared to get heavy-handed about it. But when it comes down to the line, there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for Shane’s sake.
Who plays Gary? Keeno Lee Hector (with driving double Sean February).
How old is Keeno Lee Hector? 45.
Where is he from? Cape Town.
Where did he study? He has a Performers Diploma in Theatre from UCT.
What else has Keeno Lee Hector been in? If you haven’t seen him on stage in a musical theatre production like Soul, Rent, Fame (for which he received a Naledi Award nomination for playing Joe Vegas), or Broekies & Plaatjies, his standout TV and movie roles include Morris in Arendsvlei, Micky Malgas in Suidooster, Bradley in Kompleks, and Yaseen in Barakat.
Is Keeno married? He’s not saying.
What else to know? Keeno was a member of the music group The Black Ties with Chad Saaiman and Lloyd Jansen, and he still works as a solo vocalist.
Jackie – Stephren Saayman
The stuntman of Shane’s spinning team, Jackie isn’t sure whether Ethan is a rival or a friend.
Who plays Jackie? Stephren Saayman (with spinning double Nathaniel Parkour).
How old is Stephren Saayman? 25.
Where is he from? He was born in Riversdal on the Platteland, and now lives in Cape Town.
Where did he study? He has a BA in Theatre and Drama from Stellenbosch University.
What else has Stephren Saayman been in? He’s been making his mark in theatre as a (Kanna-nominated) writer and performer, but you might also know him as Henco in Kompleks, or Billy in Dwaalster. At the age of 19, Stephen landed his first-ever TV role, a guest appearance in Suidooster in 2018, as a prize for being Best Actor at the DCAS Drama Festival.
Is Stephren married? No.
What else to know? Stephren grew up with a sport similar to spinning and reveals that every second Sunday in Riversdal, drivers showed off at an event they called Pop.
Trevor – Braeden Buys
Every second Sunday you’ll find Trevor up on the hill hanging around with Shane’s driving team, chowing down on a gatsby and cheering on the guys performing jaw-dropping stunts in their cars. He’s cheering the loudest – and laughing the loudest when someone messes up.
Who plays Trevor in Spinners? Braeden Buys.
How old is Braeden? 24.
Where is he from: Kraaifontein in Cape Town.
Where did he study? At Bernadino Heights secondary school in Kraaifontein, and the Stage Performing Arts Studio in Bellville, where he won a R50 000 scholarship from the Community Chest of the Western Cape.
What else has Braeden been in? He has plenty of stage experience and he was Sky in Die Sentrum, but this is his breakout TV role. Coming up soon, he has a lead role in the new Showmax Original series Trompoppie.
Is Braeden married? Shame, no, he’s young still.
What else to know? He’s a trained dancer and choreographer and if you’re a fan of the Honey movies, you might be able to spot him in the background in Honey 3. Braeden won an Industry Award at the 2017 World Championship of Performing Arts in Los Angeles.
Also look out for
Jean-Jacques Mouton as Tony, Clayton Evertson as Vernon, Marlon Swartz as Butter, Shannon Solomon as Robin (with Aqueel Brown as Robin’s spinning double), Waleed Osman as Kleintjie (with Robin Klassen as Kleintjie’s spinning double), Zac Wastie as Wayde, Emile Smit as Marvin, Albert Pretorius as Pieter, Danny Ross as Lester, Loukman Adams as Duran Morkel, Zenobia Kloppers as Samantha, Monique Rockman as Jenny, Riaz Solker as Ahmed, Dean Bailie as Neville, Lee Ann Van Rooi as Tansey, Royston Stoffels as John September, Paul Savage as Gerald, Peter Butler as Manny, Melt Sieberhagen as Ou Ballie, Megan Alexander as Geraldine, Jamie Barthus as Stevie, Simone Neethling as Dianne, Renee Cloete as Jean, Amrain Essop as Claire, Dillan Arendse as Tracy, Zak Rowlands as Charles, Stefan Erasmus as Jerome, Aneeq Carr as Brendan, Marlo Minaar as Sylvester, Ivan Abrahams as Johnny, Carel Nel as Dr Bloom, Kadija Heeger as Mrs. Salah, Shermin Faro as Stanley, Bonolo Moloi as the social worker, DJ Ready D as the announcer and Eddie Rasta as himself.
Watch Spinners on Showmax now, with new episodes each Wednesday.
A sit-down with Cantona James of Spinners
Spinners: Sit-down with Chelsea
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