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Award Winning South African Actress Shannon Esra – Building Value

This week on Womanity-Women in Unity Dr. Amaleya Goneos-Malka talks to award winning South African actress Shannon Esra. Her first professional acting role was playing Siri in the feature film I Dreamed of Africa, with Kim Basinger, which cemented her desire to pursue acting professionally. Some of her television work has included Lioness, Isidingo, The Queen and Hard Copy.  Theatre wise she has just wrapped up performing a one-woman play, My Left Breast, written by Obie Award winner Susan Miller.

Storytelling, identity, human understanding and connecting with people are some of the interests that Shannon channels into her passion for acting. She views the characters she plays, as one would see their children, there are no favourites! Inhabiting these different identities offer channels for self-discovery. We discuss Shannon’s most recent portrayal in My Left Breast, a solo performance, where she engages the audience exploring a range of emotional realms experienced by Susan Miller as a woman, mother, partner and professional during her journey with breast cancer.

Shannon shares some advice for aspiring actors, imploring them to introspect about their motivations for the profession and evaluate their talent. She highlights some hard truths, such as the fact that in acting you tend to have more down time than work time and that sometimes self-doubt can creep in. She raises the fact that some people define themselves by the work we do, and when we don’t work, we tend to lose our sense of self. Women, in particular nurturers, tend to focus on others at the expense of neglecting themselves. Shannon reminds us to think about our own identities and our own personal values, because the way that we value ourselves tells other people how valuable we are.

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