The one and only Mrs. Amanda Strydom talks to MYHRU about her incredible career, daily inspiration and beautiful skin, of course...
Q: Ms. Strydom, you have become South Africa’s much loved treasure of the arts world! Did you always want a career as a performer or did you have other dreams growing up? When I was about 10 years old , my mother took me to see a play at the Port Elizabeth Opera house –it was a one woman show by Wena Naude , who was an exceptional , beloved actress – her performance blew me away. That night I knew that THAT was what I wanted to do. Mom enrolled me in Mari Mocke’s Childrens theatre school and my drama teacher entered me in Eisteddfods every year . So I learned to perform in front of people since childhood. After matric , I studied Drama and graduated from the University of Pretoria in 1978. I was offered a contract with the CAPAB main theatre company in Cape Town and I started acting professionally at the age of 23.
I never ever thought of becoming a singer - let alone a songwriter! God gave me a voice, I loved singing, but I I was hopeless in piano lessons and to this day have no voice training or ability to read music. I used to sing in the school choir and in church and in the bathroom (which had a fabulous echo!). Actually, I wanted to act, and in the same year that I started I was offered the lead in a film in 1979. During the making of the film, the director, Franz Marx, sent me to audition for a musical – and to my surprise I got the role of the leading lady in Nick Taylor’s musical “ Christian”! Suddenly, I was freelance at the age of 23 and the rest, as they say, is history.
I only started writing my own songs in 1991 and never looked back. I started writing musical plays for myself since 1993 – in that way I can use my talents as an actress , singer and storyteller.
Q: Looking back over your career, what are some of your most memorable moments which have shaped you as a performer? There were so many beautiful highlights in the 42 years that I have been performing – it’s tough to pick... but the TV series “ 1922” , in which I portrayed a Polish singer, definitely stands out as an acting highlight; the Spanish mass , “ Misa Criolla and Navidad Nuestra” by Ariel Ramirez, for which I had to learn Spanish phonetically with the University of Potchefstroom choir under the baton of Prof Awie van Wyk and later with the Libertas choir with their choir master and conductor Prof Johan de Villiers; my first one woman musical play , “ State of the Heart”, in which I sang in 6 languages and wrote the script (which is now running in its 28th year); the literary cabaret “ Met Permissie gesê” by my late mentor, Hennie Aucamp; and my tours to the Netherlands ( I performed there for 7 years in succession) with my band. All these performances I have chosen as highlights because they were incredible challenges for me as an actress, singer and writer – of my own songs and plays. I love challenges, I love my work and I work hard – I believe na audience deserves nothing less than one’s best.
Q: In terms of personal and spiritual growth, what kind of things inspire you on daily basis? Nature inspires me - especially now , during this terrifying pandemic! It’s really the only constant we have: the sunrise and sunset, the change of seasons, each bringing their own magic... I live in wonderment and gratitude and will never ever take things for granted again! Books inspire me. All of a sudden, there is time to read whenever I want to and not just while travelling on a plane. And the kindness of people – I have witnessed so much kindness during this awful time - it really lifts my spirits and gives me hope.
Q: In your line of work you get to work alongside some remarkably creative and interesting people - but who has been your favourite co-performer? I’m a lone ranger – I’m so used to being alone on a stage, because I create my own work, just with my pianist Coenraad Rall or my band . Now and then it is wonderful to work in a production with other artists because I learn so much and I don’t have to carry the show alone.
I have done some fantastic shows with amazing performers: Stef Bos here and in the Netherlands; the iconic Sibongile Khumalo who passed away recently; the magnificent diva Gloria Bosman; Timothy Moloi; Laurika Rauch; Coenie de Villiers; Lize Beekman and Vusi Mahlasela. They all inspire me because they are professional in every sense , dedicated to perfection and, above all, they remain humble, despite their fame.
Q: What would you say is your definition and perception of the term “beautiful”? Would you say it has changed over the course of your own career? I am now 64 years old and there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that beauty DOES come from within. A confident, natural-looking woman is irresistibly beautiful; a woman who has made peace with her looks and knows who she is, exudes confidence. At this stage of my life I believe less is more but when I was younger, I used to wear a lot of makeup and constantly permed and dyed my hair, because I believed my hair was limp and thin and ugly. Now I love the grey streaks coming out and leave it naturally and curl it with soft sponge curlers if I want curls. I am absolutely comfortable with who I am and what I look like . When one can learn to just be oneself and not try to be something else, the rewards are incredible. A healthy self esteem is the best facelift !
Q: We couldn't agree more! Our Myhrulosophy is rooted in healthy-ageing – NOT anti-ageing! Do you believe this universal stigma is finally being challenged? I certainly hope so. To be health-conscious contributes immensely to one's wellbeing – both physically and mentally. No-one can halt the process of aging, but by nurturing our body and soul as well as our skin (women especially), we can do it gracefully.
Q: Can you share some of your own personal and professional tips on how to nurture and preserve our health and beauty? I have to drink 3 litres of water a day as I only have one kidney. I was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2019, and since then the best medicine has been water – and lots of it.. Over the past two years I have noticed the difference in my skin – it’s like an instant free facelift! I also avoid very salty food and always dilute my Litchi juice. We don’t keep alcohol in our home, but I do enjoy a glass of dry white wine socially.
I have to wear more makeup when I am performing on stage, so the most important thing is CLEANSING AND MOISTURISING my skin . I never go to bed without washing my face and applying a night cream. I was curious to experiment with the MYHRU High! serum. At first, I had reservations because I have oily skin and the product is oily too but I applied it at night and after two days I could really see and feel the difference. I now wake up with a thoroughly nourished, hydrated skin that feels like satin! I realise now you only need a few drops mixed with moisturiser before you apply foundation and it protects the skin and lasts the whole day.
As for nutrition, I have a bowl of fresh fruit for breakfast every morning: plenty of paw-paw and blueberries, some pineapple, seedless grapes and watermelon. My husband and I love steamed vegetables with chicken breasts or pork and, when we can afford it, we spoil ourselves with a lamb chop or lamb shank. We’ve cut down on red meat through the years. We also love fish , but it is very expensive these days so I make fish dishes with tuna.
I love my exercise bike – I’m addicted to spinning classes at the gym, but with lockdown I choose to be safe and ride my bike at home . I ride for an hour a day, except weekends - it keeps me sane. I swim a lot in summer and I am very grateful that we have a pool – the heat in Gauteng can be stifling.
Make-up wise, I prefer the natural look when I am not on stage - less is more! - especially when one gets older. So it's just some Mascara, a little eyeshadow in muted colours and palish lipstick. I keep the dark, dramatic eyes, red lips, powder and blusher for the stage.
Q: And now for our favourite question: what would you like to tell your younger self that you wish you’d known back then? Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t try to please everybody. You are enough, so just be yourself and lose the ego.
Q: You have already accomplished so very much in your career! What's next for the multi-talented Amanda Strydom?
I will be starring in a film based on a play I did with Hannes van Wyk in 2012 – we are very excited that it has been adapted for screen. It is titled “ Voor ek vergeet” and deals with a mother in the early stages of dementia and her son , who is trying to help her move from the family home to a retirement village. We start filming in Cape Town on 13 February and I am so looking forward to this, as all the festivals and shows I was booked to do since March 2020 have been cancelled or postponed due to Covid. These days I am grateful for every opportunity to work, and if this pandemic has taught me anything it is to be grateful for the smallest things.
Q: Thank you Amanda! Good luck with your upcoming project and welcome to the MYHRU Family...