Close-up: An Interview with Frances Sholto-Douglas

Q: Can you tell us about your background and what inspired you to get into acting? Beyond it being a job, what makes acting and performing fulfilling?

A: AS a child, I acted for my own imaginative indulgence. Acting continues to be my life’s passion, partly because I never lost sight of this desire to explore the fantasies I conjure up.

But as I have grown older and developed as a person, my relationship with acting has also developed and expanded into various aspects of my life. I do not act for a singular cause. I act to have fun, explore the inner workings of my mind and to connect more deeply to actors and the people I surround myself with.

I also act to contribute artistically to socio-political movements I support – and to enjoy my love for film and theatre.

Sometimes, the reasons I act contradict each other and I am reminded of the ambiguity of art. But then, I am all the more motivated to continue exploring this ambiguity and create something from it.

Q: In the last few years you have been involved in numerous television projects. What has been the biggest learning curve for you so far?

A: IT IS easy to become reliant on technique in acting because there are so many practitioners who have given their lives to shaping and innovating different methods.


I have learned that technique is there to guide actors, not protect them or paint a specific route for finding a character. We need to find our individual voices and methods.

Actors are allowed to be innovators and in my opinion, that is how the most interesting and profound work is made.

Q: You have also been involved in numerous short film projects. Have you enjoyed working in that format?

A: SOME of my fondest on-set experiences have been working on short films – mostly because I enjoy working with young filmmakers and short films are often their preferred format.

It is uplifting to witness how much trust is given and received when there is a general understanding that everyone is still finding their way and discovering what kind of artist they want to be.

Nobody is getting paid, so we are all there to learn and experiment. Less importance is placed on the results and so the process itself is naturally more explorative.

Q: AS well as acting, you have a gift for singing. Are you attracted to live performance, theatre and musicals?

A: THANK you – that is kind! It is fair to say that I swing both ways when it comes to film and theatre. I recently played Apple in Tiisetso Mashifane wa Noni’s State of the Art and played Andromache in Charles Duncombe’s Trojan Women.

I was a die-hard musical theatre kid, but I shifted my focus onto acting after high school. I still train in opera and sing on the toilet (so to speak), so hopefully I will someday manage to perform as a songstress past the occasional variety concert.

Frances Sholto-Douglas in rehearsal for Charles Duncombe’s Trojan Women

Q: Last month spoke to upcoming Australian actress Annelise Hall about the challenges facing young actresses. What are your thoughts on the hurdles that young actresses face?

A: SAFETY. It is something that needs to be spoken about a lot more. Experiences are intersectional, so I cannot speak as if I understand the challenges facing every woman.

That being said, young actresses are in a dangerous position when stepping into the industry. We are all hungry for work and there are predators in positions of power that do take advantage of that.

Q: WHAT are your ambitions for this year and beyond?

A: I HOPE to be a part of more projects that grapple with the complexities of South African society.

The unceasing oppression of people of colour, fraught racial dynamics, wealth disparity, and queer-phobia (the list goes on) are swept under the rug beneath a façade of “The Rainbow Nation”.

Film and theatre are incredibly powerful formats that can formulate microcosms for societal issues – allowing audiences to distance themselves enough from their role in society to reflect on and re-adjust it, as well as acknowledge and sympathise with the unfamiliar struggles of characters.

It is not good enough to list the ways in which white privilege is prevalent. People need to see and emotionally engage in order to understand. In this way, film and theatre hold the power to challenge popular problematic perspectives (or reinforce them), and I would like to do more to involve myself in projects that intersect with social change.

Q: LASTLY, do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

A: I DO. Samson hits theatres on 16th February. In the film, I play Taren – Samson’s first love and wife. Working alongside actors such as Taylor James and director Bruce Macdonald was a truly inspiring and humbling experience and I am excited at seeing the end result.

If you are a Netflix-devotee like myself, you can also catch me in Vince Marcello’s The Kissing Booth later this year.

On the theatrical side, I am working on a play with talented up-and-coming writer and director Simphiwe Shabalala for this year’s Zabalaza Theatre Festival.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the brilliant directors, casts and crews involved in these dynamic, exciting projects.


  1. I do trust all of the ideas you have presented in your post. They are very convincing and will definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are too short for novices. Could you please lengthen them a little from subsequent time? Thank you for the post.

Leave a Reply