Average read time: 7 minutes.
Kidnapped as a child, Reyka Gama (Kim Engelbrecht) has made a career out of profiling complex criminals. Now she’s on the hunt for a serial killer. As she follows a trail of bodies in the Kwazulu-Natal sugar cane fields, she’s forced to confront the demons of her past and navigate her turbulent relationships with both her mother (Anna-Mart van der Merwe) and daughter (Rashaan Stackling).
Watch Anna-Mart van der Merwe speak about her role as Elsa. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slbDNeEjUp4
It’s an intense role for sure, but one that seasoned South African actress Kim Engelbrecht was more than ready to tackle. “Reyka is not just one thing, she’s many things,” says Englebrecht. “She’s quite paradoxical. High one moment and then really low. Very in control in one moment and then an absolute mess in other circumstances. She’s highly driven in her career and she slips easily into her job, which is so brutal. But she has no ability to handle simple things like communication with her daughter. That was really intriguing for me.”
Adding to the intrigue was the fact that screenwriter and show-runner Rohan Dickson fought to bring the show to life for 14 years. Global distribution company Fremantle joined forces with M-Net and Multichoice in 2018 and Engelbrecht landed the lead role. While filming only began in 2020, the actress believes that everything happened at the right time.
“I don’t think I would have had the confidence to lead a show like this sooner,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to do something like this in South Africa. I was looking for a really cool project, holding out and trying to find the right fit and when this came along, it was really good timing for me. I was obviously scared, intimidated and challenged, but also very excited by the material and having the opportunity to sink my teeth into it.”
Stepping out of her comfort zone is something that’s important to Engelbrecht. “I think ‘scared’ is a good word, being fearful because of the importance of what I’m doing…this is my job. Every job is important to me, and I want to give it my everything. I try my hardest and if I fail, I’m going to fail in a big way,” she explains.
Engelbrecht also takes comfort in the fact that she’s part of a team committed to doing their best too, something that was especially true of Reyka, which was shot during Covid-19. She says, “everyone was so unsure of what Covid would mean for them and their families. Yet, everybody just wanted to work, to make money and be able to be of service. That was a big drawcard.”
Watch Iain Glen speak about his role as Angus Speelman.
Engelbrecht has high praise for all her co-stars, especially critically acclaimed British actor Iain Glen, who plays her kidnapper Angus Speelman. “I think for anyone who has ever watched Game of Thrones and has followed any of his work, you will be taken aback by him or even by the idea of meeting him and then acting alongside him,” she says. “I think one should never lose that because it shows respect, and it was an important moment for me. I really value having had the chance to work with him. Watching him work was such a joy and gift,” says Englebrecht.
She may remain refreshingly humble, but this formidable woman has built quite a career for herself. From kids TV presenter to critically acclaimed actress, Engelbrecht attributes her longevity in the industry to her ability to adapt, change and enjoy the moment. “I think I was able to grow through different stages in my career,” she says. Her acting breakthrough came over 20 years ago when she played troubled teen Lolly de Klerk on popular SABC 3 soapie, Isidingo.
Watch highlights of Kim in Eye in the Sky on IMDB. https://www.imdb.com/video/vi586857753
And watch Kim talk about starring in Eye in the Sky on Expresso
She explains, “your confidence starts to grow and just like in the South African industry, the more (shows) you make, the more you learn and the more comfortable you become. It’s always been my desire to expand into the international sphere but obviously South Africa is my home and my base, so I think I was just very lucky.”
After production of Reyka wrapped, Engelbrecht immediately began shooting season two of another American hit, Ridley Scott’s HBO Max sci-fi series Raised by Wolves, which is currently being filmed in her hometown of Cape Town. She says she’s loving exploring new worlds and going beyond reality. “I like the idea of anything being possible.” A fitting statement from an actress who is living proof of the power of believing in unlimited possibilities.
Watch Reyka every Sunday night at 8pm on M-Net, DStv channel 101.
Watch the trailer below!