Meet the bubbly star of Troukoors (Wedding Fever), Ilse-Lee van Niekerk

5 May 2022

Meet the bubbly star of Troukoors (Wedding Fever), Ilse-Lee van Niekerk

Troukoors (Wedding Fever) centres around Jessica, a wedding coordinator who makes the world beautiful for others, but who’s struggling to find love for herself. The character is portrayed by the bubbly Ilse-Lee van Niekerk, known for her roles in Getroud met Rugby, 4 Mure and Die Boekklub.

Watch: Troukoors Season 2, streaming from 5 May 2022

Her romantic interests in Troukoors are portrayed by Armand Aucamp, Christiaan Schoombie and Edwin van der Walt.

Read more about the talented cast of Troukoors (Wedding Fever) »

Who is Jessica?

Jessica is a positive, strong woman, optimistic, soft, and caring. That thing where she wants to fix things and make the world beautiful for other people. She’s a whirlwind. Every relationship teaches her something else and fulfills her in different ways. I can see clearly why she moves away from a relationship … there is something amiss in the relationship. She’s missing something, which she finds in someone else. But it’s still as if she gains a bit more self-confidence as the series progresses.

Ilse-Lee vs Jessica 

I think of all the characters I’ve played before, she’s the most like me. I want to say I’m just as optimistic. Jessica is me, but with a lot more energy at certain levels, but I’m definitely not as organised as she is, and I don’t dress nearly as well. Wow, she dresses so well and spends a lot of time on her hair and makeup, which I certainly don’t do! I can relate to the idea of her wanting to make people happy. It makes her happy to make other people happy, and I was focused on that heart, that core of the character.

Ilse-Lee and Blyde Smit play sisters in Troukoors

About TV and life

When I read it (the script), those family scenes where they’re all sitting there, the two fathers, the sisters, the lot of them, it gave me a very warm feeling. It was beautiful, the ups and downs

and the things they’re struggling with. A lot of the issues feel real to me and the personalities clashing … It’s almost the more subtle issues, not earth-shattering issues that they’re discussing or which shakes them. It’s the subtle things like ‘with who should you be?’ ‘Who is good for you? What is bad for you?’ and those kinds of things. How do you stay true to yourself and how do you figure it out? That feels very real to me, very true to the normal way life goes.

Why did you accept the part?

I accepted the part immediately because it was a great project, for sure. But what made me excited about the project and the story, is that we’re three strong female characters. That’s unbelievable. It’s extremely exciting for me. And that they’re three young, dynamic and modern women.

I really enjoy playing such a light and bubbly character. Compared to the other characters I’ve played, Jessica feels like something a little different. It’s a nice story, romantic. That’s the thing. The fun of the story, the project and the character excited me. It’s been three months of playing on set and it feels like play.

How is modern romance depicted in the show?

The overarching idea of the series is love is love. Especially when you look at sexuality. I love the fact that, especially with the two dads, it’s just accepted, there’s no … and with Abi as well, it’s just the norm. It’s not another story or an issue or something and that’s how it should be. It’s normal. I really enjoy the fact that it’s about which type of love is the best thing for you, and how can you be the best to someone else, and how can you show love. What works for you. Rather than it being about who you love.

Bianca Flanders as bisexual, sex-positive bestie Abi

There’s a genuineness. There also isn’t that obsession with marriage in the series, funnily enough. Jessica really wants to get married, but it’s not the be-all and end-all and she doesn’t feel left behind. There’s never the idea of you MUST marry now … you’re at the marriage age. That’s something you get a lot. And even though a lot of her world is about weddings, she’s never like, “Oh hell, it’s getting a little late” or anything like that and that’s wonderful. It’s not a nice to have. The reasons for getting married must be the right reasons for you and it definitely shouldn’t be something you do because of external pressure.

What was it like working with director Nina Swart?

It’s really interesting to me to see how she works differently with different people, how she has a specific approach for each of us. She watches people closely and she has some very interesting insights into humanity, and that’s wonderful because she can connect with any person. She’s wonderfully supportive and she gives so much and she’s always checking in. There’s always a fun atmosphere on set. And at the beginning she said: “Work at home, play at work.”

Was working with an intimacy coordinator a positive experience?

It opens you up, because it just takes any uncertainty away, and creates such a safe space,” says Ilse-Lee of the experience. “When you know what is a ‘Yes’ and what is a ‘No,’ then suddenly there’s a whole new world that you can use and colour in. Because then you can embrace the story and scene without worrying: you can be fully comfortable with the ‘Yeses’. It is extremely empowering. On both sides, for both partners, because then the uncertainty and discomfort is eliminated. You know, this is safe, now I can just act.

Watch because …

It’s an uplifting series, something nice in these tough times. It’s a beautiful story, and encouraging. It’s also very funny and the characters are well-written.

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