“It feels like my journey is not over yet, it has been cut short and the choice has been made for me. I have 7th Avenue enjoying it so much, it feels like all my stories haven’t been told yet.”
This is how Zak Hendrikz talks, who plays one of the main roles 7th Avenue interpreted, about the end of this well-known soap opera.
This 41-year-old actor’s real sadness lies in the fact that he now, after two years, has to say goodbye to his colleagues who have become like family.
“We’re freelance actors, that’s who we’ve always been. After 7th Avenue, I’m just going to go back to freelancing. It’s not about the work, it’s about the people I consider family now.”
However, he admits that his path looks different from that of the other actors. Some 7th Avenue-actors have called this soap opera home for years, even decades.
Although many of the players are not in the same job boat, support and love is omnipresent on the set of 7th Avenuesays Zak.
“All of us deal deal with it in our own way, but because we’re going through the same thing, we’re all supportive of each other.”
Zak now seen in groundbreaking movie
Although viewers have grown to love Zak’s character in 7th Avenuethis is not the only work that this actor is busy with.
His voice can currently be found in the animated film, Headspaceas the alien, Zolthard, be heard. It is the first film of its kind to be made on home soil.
This movie was put on hold for eight years before it was finally picked up again two years ago.
“My audition was already eight years ago. It was so strange to play the same character again six years later,” says Zak.
The technology used in the movie was a novelty for the South African actors. They not only lent their voices to the movie, but also their bodies.
Zak says that they had to put on special suits, which were then monitored and recorded by sensors. His face was the only part of his body that protruded, it was recorded to observe facial expressions and emotions. This video material was later used by the editors to inject emotion into the characters.
This means that although Headspace is an animated film, it is the actors’ own movements and facial expressions that play out in the film.
“It was the most incredible experience. We were physically the characters,” says Zak.
“We rehearsed for a whole month before we started shooting. It was not a normal process, we took longer to find the characters.”
Today, years after the process of making the movie began, Zak is bursting with pride to finally see the movie on the silver screen.
“All the actors who were there knew that we were doing something special. Nothing like this has ever been done in South Africa,” he recalls.
“It is crazy to see the final product. There is so much anxious energy precisely because it took so long. I can’t say enough how proud I am of this movie.”
A donkey for a city boy
Zak did not grow up on a farm, he says, yet farming is in his blood.
The Donkey Dairy, a family-friendly donkey farm in the Magaliesberge, is one of Zak’s greatest passions. This farm officially opened in 2012, although at the time it was located on a smaller site in Randfontein, Johannesburg.
The farm started bursting at the seams, and that’s when Zak and his partner, Jesse Christelis, decided to move their donkey farming to a farm in the Magaliesberge.
“I have so much love for my farm and my animals,” says Zak.
“I knew nothing about farming when I started. Google was our best friend. You put yourself through so many schools of learning by working with the animals yourself.”
Zak and Jesse dreamed of launching a breeding program with blue-eyed fur donkeys. They were initially met with opposition, with many people saying that there was no money to be made with donkeys. However, that didn’t stop Zak and Jesse in their tracks.
One obstacle they had to overcome, however, is the waiting period for a foal. Donkey mares are pregnant for about 12 to 13 months, and it is also not to say that she would become pregnant immediately after she and the donkey stallion were put together. This means that one can wait up to two years until a foal would be born at all.
This waiting period is why Zak and Jesse decided to start producing and selling donkey milk products. These products include donkey milk, donkey milk soap, face cream, day cream, night cream and hand cream. With the proceeds from these sales, they can easily feed their animals every day.
Since The Donkey Dairy opened its doors, Zak and Jesse have rescued hundreds of donkeys on their way to slaughterhouses.
“I now know what is really important in life. Yelling at someone in load-shedding traffic is not important or valuable, that’s what I learned through my farm.”
A production with his best friend
Zak and his best friend, Cindy Swanepoel, are soon to debut their new play, 1, at the Momentum Beleggings Aardklop festival in Potchefstroom.
This piece, which he describes as magical realism, is about two people who have been in a relationship for so long that they have grown firmly together. Throughout the play, the two characters struggle to separate from each other and find their own identity again.
“Who am I with my partner? Did I lose my identity in the process? Can I find myself again? Who am I without that person?” These are the questions in 1 be investigated.
“We are literally Siamese twins at the beginning of the piece. It is actually difficult to do a piece where you are connected to another person. There really has to be symbiosis between the two actors.”
This is precisely why he is grateful to be able to do this with Cindy. These two have known each other for more than two decades and have been best friends for about 12 years.
“I’m so grateful to be doing this with Cindy, she’s my best friend, but she’s also an excellent actress.”
- Headspace is currently showing in movie theaters nationwide.
- For more information about The Donkey Dairy, visit the website here.
- Book your tickets for Zak Hendrikz and Cindy Swanepoel’s play, 1here.