Mince Jou Hare: Shimmy Isaacs on her Showmax Original sitcom

By Caryn Welby-Solomon8 May 2024

Mince Jou Hare: Shimmy Isaacs on her Showmax Original sitcom

What are you giving your mother for Mother’s Day? 

Award-winning comedian Shimmy Isaacs is raising the bar this year: her mother, Frieda, is getting her own Showmax Original series!

Showmax has just dropped the trailer for Mince Jou Hare, a feel-good, small-town sitcom releasing on Mondays from 20 May 2024. Set in the fictional town of Hex Valley in the Western Cape, the Showmax Original follows Frieda as she quits her factory job to set up a hair salon in her home. 

Melissa de Vries as Frieda and Lee-Ann van Rooi as Suzette in Mince Jou Hare

Melissa de Vries (Sasha Daniels in Arendsvlei) stars as Frieda, with comedian Dugald Pieterse as her husband Vincent, Fleur du Cap nominee Bianca Flanders (Troukoors; Nêrens, Noord-Kaap) as her best friend Julia, and Franka Kirby in a breakthrough role as her daughter Jody. The cast also includes SAFTA nominee Keenan Arrison (Shirley Adams; The Riviera),  African Movie Academy Award nominees Lee-Ann van Rooi (Spinners) and Euodia Samson (Arendsvlei), and Gershwin Mias (Zane Meintjies in Arensdvlei, Shaun in Magda Louw). Emile Smit (Arendsvlei) rounds out a stellar cast as their love-struck neighbour. 

Spinners’ star David Isaacs (co-creator of Joe Barber and G.I.L., director of Swartwater and Sara Se Geheim) directs, with YouTube phenomenon Early B creating the theme song. 

Multi-award winner Roberta Durrant produces through Penguin Films, the company behind International Emmy nominees Stokvel and Home Affairs; classic SA comedies like the Rose d’Or nominee Madam & Eve and triple SAFTA winner G.I.L.; and long-running dramas Diepe Waters, Arendsvlei, Projek Dina and Sara Se Geheim. 

Watch the trailer for Mince Jou Hare

Caryn Welby-Solomon spoke to Shimmy about what the series means to her.

What inspired you to create, write and produce Mince Jou Hare?

My mother’s story is very much a part of my story and it felt like an important one to tell. 

Worcester was a factory town and my mother was a factory worker. When she quit her job at the factory and she said that she was done working for someone else, this was a significant event in my life. 

She did everything that she set out to do. I was a child, so this was the first time I saw someone make a promise to themselves and then do it. It inspired me, that I could also dream big, and could achieve what I promised myself that I would. My mother represents faith to me.

So I wanted to introduce others to the inspiration that my mother, Frieda, is, and to the lively world of small towns like Worcester. 

Why did you set Mince Jou Hare in Hex Valley?

Hex Valley is inspired by Worcester, where I grew up, so it will always have a special place in my heart. 

But this is about highlighting characters and people that are often overlooked, who don’t sound like what we are used to. I always say that coloured people are not monolithic people; they don’t just come from Cape Town and the Cape Flats. They even speak Afrikaans differently in Worcester.

I also thought it was important to celebrate the small-town values of towns like Worcester, where it is still customary to stand up for the elderly, and help aunties cross the road, for example. We need to go back to the spaces that value respect and kindness.

What importance did hair have in the story that you are telling?

I don’t think it’s something that I particularly fixated on. My mother’s an actual hairdresser, but I must say that growing up, I only ever saw three hairstyles.This story is ultimately about a woman who wants to just succeed in life and is willing to do whatever she has to do to make that happen. 

For a story that is so close to your heart, how did you go about casting the roles?

Melissa [De Vries], who plays Frieda, has been with the project since day one, since I filmed the original pilot five years ago. I originally wrote the script with another actor in mind but they were unavailable. But then Melissa walked into the audition, and she took the character in a whole new direction, and I embraced that. I learned to be open to her interpretation of the character. And since then we’ve all grown and Melissa and I have ended up working together on other TV shows and I learned to know her a lot better. It’s good to know my actors if I intend to write for them, so that I can imbue the characters with the characteristics of the actor.

Another actor that I’ve worked with is Gershwin [Mias], who plays the character of Oompie. I was specifically able to write for him because my mind was made up that he was the perfect actor for the part, even before Showmax said yes. And then when we started playing around with his wardrobe – which was inspired by Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – he truly transformed into the character.

The only actor I hadn’t worked with before is Bianca Flanders, who plays Julia. She’s brand new on my radar. I originally wrote the character of Julia to play myself, as I did in the original pilot. But when I saw Bianca’s tape, I prayed about it and asked God to give me objectiveness, and let me see the art. And this allowed me to see that Bianca was right for the role, because she was not like any of the actors we saw and it showed the diversity of people in Worcester. Bianca shows the more English side of the people from Worcester. I love how she brings such gentleness to the character of Julia. But there is also this element of sadness because she is unlucky in love. You just want her to find happiness and love.

What do you want audiences to take away from watching Mince Jou Hare?

I want them to learn that it is okay to be themselves first and foremost. But I always say, ‘Be yourself with goals.’ 

Look at Vincent, Frieda’s husband. He’s that content guy. And then you look at his wife. Yin and yang. You need balance in life. You need the one that’s okay and that says we’re enough and then you need the other one that says it’s okay, we can work harder, so we can have more holidays.

What I want people to take away from Mince Jou Hare is they can do both. They can work hard and have a good time. And know that they’re enough, no matter what that is.

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