ALUMNI OF THE WEEK # 126 Shimmy Isaacs

Alumni of the week, 25 September 2018



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In the last month alone, South African audiences have seen AFDA alumna Shimmy Isaacs host the Kyknet Silwerskerm Awards evening, play to full house audiences with a re-run of her show “Moenie” at the Cape Town Comedy Club and act in the critically acclaimed film “Ellen: Die Storie van Ellen Pakkies” showing in cinemas nationwide. She is currently in Chicago and over the next month you may hear Shimmy on the radio. promoting her up-coming stand-up comedy shows in the USA.

Shimmy Isaacs was born and raised in Worcester.  After matriculating, she left the Boland town to pursue a career in acting in Cape Town. Four years down the line she was earning a living in retail but her dream was still alive. “All I needed was just someone to believe in me. I got myself an agent but I wasn’t qualified and I wasn’t experienced enough.” says Shimmy.

She then decided to apply for a bursary from AFDA. “I needed to educate myself about the craft of performance, the psychology of performance, the emotional intelligence that comes with this craft. I set up a meeting with the co-founder of AFDA, Garth Holmes – He saw that I had accumulated all these workshops and certificates at CAP (Community Arts Project). He was really impressed and asked what I wanted to do. I said acting and he showed me into my classroom. It took me three months to tell anybody what I was doing because I was asking myself, ‘Is this real? This is crazy!’ says Shimmy.

Shimmy became one of the top students at AFDA where she won several awards in various student productions that include Best Actress and Best Newcomer (Stone Award) for Liefdes Verhaal and Best Supporting Actress for King Leer.  She obtained her Honours Degree from in 2005 and later studied acting at the Black Nexxus School of Performance in New York for three months. In 2006 she returned to South Africa and took up the position of lecturer in the Live Performance at AFDA Cape Town, while freelancing as a writer, actress, comedian and producer. It did not take long for Shimmy to be regarded as one of Cape Town’s most talented actress’ and funniest female comedians.  

In 2009 she won the Best of Ikwezi Award for her production Dens Wit Me a Cape Flats Musical Comedy that she produced, co-wrote and performed in.  The production went on to be performed at the Suid-Ooste Fees at the Artscape Theatre. 

In 2011 Shimmy Isaacs created Biographical Comedy one woman show “Allie Pad Funny Worcester” which earned her the best new writer and performer in a solo production at the Baxter Theatre under the direction of Rob van Vuuren. She also made her stand-up comedy début at the Vodacom Funny Festival Baxter Theatre alongside Eugene Kosa and Allen Committee.  In the same year Shimmy was voted the 7th funniest comedian in South Africa by South African Entertainment program Showbiz Report. 

In 2012 Shimmy Isaacs lends the medium of comedy to create her two time award winning one woman physical theatre comedy show “Howzit My Bra”.  “Howzit my Bra” earns her the best new comer award at the KKNK Oudtshoorn festival and the best actress award at the KYKNET FIESTA’s. 

The year 2013 had her hosting the Annual Heritage Celebrations at the Royal Carre Theatre in Amsterdam.  later that year she appeared in the Warner Brothers family feature film “Suzie and Rosie’s Royal Adventures”.

In 2014 Shimmy is the only South African comedian chosen to represent South Africa at the Comedy Festival in Glasgow Scotland.  She then made her way to television shooting “Traffic season 2” on E-TV. Shimmy also appeared on the KYKNET&KIE channel in the short film “Bekkies Gevind”. 

The year 2015 Shimmy landed her first South African feature drama “’n Man soos My Pa” which was one of the films chosen for the Kyknet Silwerskerm Fees this year. 

She currently stars in two TV series on KykNet – Knapse Kerels and Sara se Geheim. Shimmy has also featured in the Vodacom Funny Festival and the Jive Comedy Festivals, both nationally and internationally.

Shimmy also hosts the South African Game Show “Ken Jy My” and makes it her business to uplift the young people of the Boland. She regularly visits to host workshops. “When something happens to us, it’s not a curse. Sometimes what happens in life, happens too fast. So I’m speaking to young kids and giving them guidance. I have to do this.” says Shimmy. Her proudest moment has been putting her baby sister through university to study acting.

“I’m very proud to say that I come from such a variety of cultural lifestyles, growing up in the Riverview Flats, then moving into the suburbs and going to a Model C school. I really had my hand in all walks of life, especially as a young coloured girl because there’s a perception that we need to be one way. We need to sound one way. And I’m not one way.” says Shimmy.

Shimmy has already made her mark abroad and performed to standing ovations in Amsterdam, Glasgow and parts of the UK. Let’s see what her current tour of the USA brings.

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