On the eve of her Hollywood debut, South African actress Carmel Fisher talks to People Magazine’s Jen Su about her enormous challenges along the way and her daughter’s inspiration and motivation for her to succeed.
Pic Cred: David LaPorte
BY JEN SU
Hi Carmel! It’s great to see you here Stateside! Tell me more about the made-for-tv film “The Wrong Mommy” produced by Vivica A. Fox, that premieres on Lifetime Movies tomorrow (19 July)! Your role is Barbara in the film, which also co-stars Eric Roberts.
CARMEL: Hi Jen! I auditioned in Los Angeles for the role of Barbara. She’s a CEO of a thriving company who’s excited to meet up and do business with her long-lost college room-mate. But after she discovers that this same friend betrayed her years ago, things take a nasty twist.
That must have taken quite a lot of preparation… what has been some of the challenges in taking on this role?
It was my first big acting gig on a Hollywood studio set, so making sure to keep my cool and composure, whilst delivering an authentic performance, was something I had to remain conscious of. I also had to stay focused on delivering a solid American accent, thanks to my amazing diction coach Joel Goldes.
Well, I must say, you do an excellent American accent! Did you have to move to LA just for the movie?
Well, I moved to LA for my career in general, but a big motivating factor was for my daughter.
Living in Hollywood has definitely had its challenges — you and baby Vida often needed to walk hours and take public transport, as well as undergo a lot of hardship, just to make it to auditions.
Yes, as you also know, transitioning between countries is extremely challenging — especially when doing it with a baby! Often times, it was just the two of us in the US…no family, no support, no one I trusted enough at that time, to leave my three-year-old with when I needed to go to meetings or auditions. I had to remain in the US to obtain my work authorisation and eventually my green card. In this time, I couldn’t seek employment.
And your husband was still in SA?
Yes, my husband had to continue our business prospects in South Africa, to sustain us in both countries. So we weren’t always together as he could only visit us every so often. Changes in US immigration policy delayed a lot of the paperwork, and without a car, we needed to walk everywhere and take public transport. LA is a great place for an outdoor lifestyle, but when you have to use one arm to push your stroller with groceries stacked on it, and carry your baby in your other arm, an 8 km walk in the blistering sun takes on a whole new meaning. Two years down the line, and it’s still tough.
Is LA going to be your new permanent home?
CARMEL: I’m making LA my new home, but I’m most definitely still going to be considering and accepting fitting roles from my talented SA industry counterparts. Being based in LA, I hope to be a conduit for other filmmakers here.
I’m sure you’ve been inspired by Vivica A. Fox, and are perhaps interested in producing and directing as well?
Yes! As a graduate of both the National School of the Arts, and the University of Johannesburg with a Bachelor’s Degree in Corporate Communications, I’ve taken a keen interest in screenwriting, directing, and producing. I recently formed a production company, Transition Films, from which diverse storytelling with a powerful social impact, will flourish.
Finally, SA misses you! What do you miss most about SA?
Ah, I miss our people…our culture and diversity are unparalleled and our talent pool is so generous and hardworking. I miss my family and friends, our beaches and bushes. I miss our accent and our Durban curries!