Popya with Elzaan de Wees

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Elzaan de Wee (24) lives by the motto “hard work beats talent”.

Born and raised in the Windhoek’s residential area of Khomasdal, as teenager de Wee was a very loud and talkative. “I wasn’t really a rebel, but being an only child, I loved socialising and being with my friends, and I absolutely loved music. But at the same time I was very self-motivated and goal orientated. I always knew what I wanted from life and I worked hard in school to be able to get where I am today. It was in high school that I discovered my love for drama and being on stage,” says de Wee.

De Wee got her first job in 2008, right after she finished writing her Grade 12 final exams.  “After putting down my pen having finished my last exam paper,  my friends and I saw a flyer for an “audio typist” job pasted on a wall at school.  Being able to type 35 words per minute, I applied for the job and got it,” she says. After a month of working as an audio typist, the business closed down due to the recession in 2008 but that was just the beginning of new things for de Wee. After the close down, she started to travel around Namibia whilst performing in various theatre productions.

“The challenges one is faced with as an actor is to stay a ‘working actor’.  You always have to prove yourself over and over again in every single audition to book a job.  And auditions are not regular, so what I have learned is that I have to create my own platforms and opportunities to perform,” she says.

Like any other person, de Wee also went through challenges, but always picked herself up and looked at the bigger picture, which is to get where she wanted to be. “I have a big ‘vision board’ in my room, it’s a poster where I pasted pictures and listed everything I want to accomplish in my life. I also included relevant goals and set targets for myself with a time limit on it.  This vision board hangs in my room, so I am reminded every single day of what I want out of life,” she says.

De Wee adds that another biggest challenge she faced was finding her self-identity but with the help of her mother who always encouraged her and believed in her dreams she overcame that.  “Even when I told her that I wanted to pursue a career in arts, knowing that employment in this field was not guaranteed, she still supported me and encouraged me to study performing arts.“I also have a great support system amongst my friends, I am very lucky to have people in my life that genuinely care about me and want to see me succeed,” she says.

De Wee works as a Part-time Arts Educator with ChiNamibia Arts Organisation for Development and is also one of its founding members. She is a freelance actress, dramatist and activist. She facilitates various workshops in community-based theatre. She is a founding member of the Theatre Nights, an initiative raising awareness  on social issues such as alcohol and drug abuse, unemployment and poverty. She is currently working as a freelance actress for LifeLine/Childline, using her art for youth education empowerment and advocacy.

De Wee encourages fellow young people to work harder than anyone they know.  “Raise a standard for yourself, don’t be average.  We are all unique, so use whatever makes you different to your advantage. Never use money as an excuse for not doing what you want to do. Start where you are: find out information, be curious, ask questions, and do research in the field you want to go into.”

“Always surround yourself with positive people that can encourage you.  Manage your time well, and have a vision for your life. Be passionate about what you want to do, because it’s the passion through determination that will carry you when it gets tough. And always remember to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle,” de Wee advises.

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