Kim Engelbrecht reflects on Season 2 of ‘Reyka’, speaks on her longevity in the industry
TV series 'Reyka' is set for a return to screens in early 2024. The show has been sold in 147 territories, displaying its international appeal.
South African actress Kim Engelbrecht portraying the character of Reyka Gama. Picture: Supplied
Television drama Reyka returns for a second season in January 2024 and the show’s lead, Kim Engelbrecht, sat down to reflect on the first season’s success and her career’s longevity.
In 1994, a 12-year old Reyka Gama (Engelbrecht) is abducted by Angus Speelman (Iain Glen) who sexually assault her for four years.
Reyka manages to escape at age 16, with her abductor finally caught and sentenced to prison. The series alternates between Reyka Gama’s past and present.
Speaking to The Citizen at the screening of Season 2’s first episode, Engelbrecht shared the challenges of playing Reyka, especially in a country with a racial past currently grappling with the scourge of Gender Based Violence (GBV).
“I think when it comes to the themes of Reyka, who she is and her story, it’s quite delicate and it’s really sensitive. It deals with her when she was taken when she was 12 years-old and kept for years by a paedophile,” the actress told The Citizen.
“The themes in itself are intense. You always, especially if you’re dealing with issues of trauma and mental health, want to approach it with delicacy, so that it gets understood.”
The show’s writer Rohan Dickson worked with a psychologist while he was writing the series.
“Every month we would get bills for ‘therapy’. This deep understanding of the psychological make up of characters is a hallmark of Reyka and we are sure contributes to its veracity and depth,” said the show’s producer Harriet Gavshon.
The storyline isn’t only appealing to South African audiences, but has a global reach.
Reyka’s global reach
Reyka premiered at the Monte Carlo Film festival to rave reviews and has been sold in 147 territories which include South Africa (MNet), UK ( Channel 4), US (BritBox), Canada (CBS), and Australia (SBS) to name a few.
The show won four South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTA) in 2022. Engelbrecht received a prestigious award for best actress in a drama series while she earned an International Emmy nomination for her portrayal of Reyka.
“I think those stories are generally appealing [not only to South African audiences]. I also think the calibre of performances is very strong,” said Engelbrecht mentioning the likes of Hamilton Dlamini and Scottish actor Iain Glen, who feature on the TV show.
“Not only the story is interesting, the setting is glorious and beautiful. KZN is incredibly gorgeous” says the thespian. The show is set in KZN and that was the location for Reyka, which captured the province’s picturesque landscape.
Some of the best music artists have a knack or an innate knowing of which producers to go with for their projects and Engelbrecht seems to have the same dexterity when it comes to picking the right script and story.
Engelbrecht crept into South African audiences’ hearts through her portrayal of reporter Lolly De Klerk on Isidingo. From there, she has seemingly picked up good scripts.
She has displayed her versatility when playing a lawyer on The Wild, or her portrayal of an insecure lover in the film, Bunny Chow.
“I think different scripts do different things for you, number one it’s about the script itself. It’s about timing, am I the right person for it, or maybe someone else could be better for this role. Having that ability to discern if the project is right for you or it’s just meant for somebody else,” avers Engelbrecht.
“It’s all part of the industry, but I love it all. But I think for you to be a really cool performer, you must love all of it. You must love the light and the dark.”
The 43-year-old has been in the entertainment industry for more than two decades. Being an actress as well as a tv presenter, her longevity has earned her respect as one of the country’s most seasoned and consistent performers.
“I’m just happy to be still part of this industry for so many years. I like to learn and I’m fine with not being great the first time, I’m fine with not being the best one, I can be the student. You want to just try keep yourself be as fluid as possible so that you can learn.”
Engelbrecht’s ‘can-do’ attitude has led her into a hobby in carpentry, which she got into sometime last year.