She’s been called a super bitch, an evil witch and the black widow amongst other nasty names and yet no matter that she gets herself into seemingly impossible situations – some caused by her own actions and others that life dishes out, Cherel always manages to come out on top.
Last week, faced with an emotional gun wielding Thandeka in a potentially lethal hostage situation at ONTV Cherel weaved her magic and came out smelling of roses.
Of course, Frank had taken advantage of the situation and interrupted normal programming to bring the drama live to viewers. First they were subjected to Cherel’s attempts to persuade Thandeka of the error of her ways and then she changed tack and became aggressive and confrontational, telling Thandeka to get on with it and kill her. Thandeka was thrown off her stride and Inspector Niemand rushed in to neutralize her.
Cherel walked out a heroine and an icon. Like a cat; that woman is sleek, feline, aloof and blessed with nine lives.
But now she is hot property. She’s the name on everyone’s lips, and the most sought after TV celeb in the business. After being interviewed on Natasha’s Women and Home show, Cherel milked her sordid past of abuse and incest for all it was worth and had viewers calling in to praise her courage and bravery and had phones ringing off the hook at ONTV for days afterwards.
The fact that she is a scheming femme fatale and has killed, or caused to be killed: Gideon Voster and his family, Slang Bornman, Mrs Bornman and Duncan Haines is all irrelevant.
The public just can’t get enough of Cherel de Villiers and she knows it.
She has made a couple of demands involving a higher salary and her own hardcore Oprah type show. This is also motivated by her sudden popularity and her threat to sue ONTV for lack of security, which led to her being compromised and held at gunpoint.
Lee is chomping at the bit, Barker looked as if he was going to have a coronary and Frank is pulling what little hair he has out of his head.
One can’t help but laugh at The Deep’s scheming villain in action again wielding her power.
Barker has managed to manipulate the Haines Board of Directors to divest themselves of their ONTV shares because of the so called hostage debacle. However he has secretly bought them all back through Siyanda in the name of one mysterious A.C. Evans, who turns out to be some elderly woman who lives in Cape Town under the care of a doctor and nurse. She plays a mean game of chess but is a few sandwiches short of a picnic. Simply put, the lift really does not go to the top floor and seemingly Barker, after having her sign a document (which probably releases the shares to him) has requested her medication be upped. I have a sneaky suspicion that this Anthea Evans may be Lee’s long lost mother who I’ve always believed to be dead.
So Barker now owns a significant number of ONTV shares. I wonder how far Cherel will be able to push her luck there…
We can expect the unexpected from her, no matter what. She is completely unpredictable and remarkably cunning which means she won’t be ousted for quite some time. I also have this funny feeling that slowly but surely, tough guy Frank Xavier is falling under her spell. There seems to be an undercurrent of attraction that’s not acknowledged but that simmers between them.
One can’t help but commend the brilliant acting talent of Michelle Botes who plays Cherel. Apparently she was once stopped in Checkers and asked, in all earnestness, if she could pass on some tips on how best to murder a spouse. It’s amazing to think that people are so taken in by her character that they forget that she is a different person off screen.
And from what I’ve read, she is a very different person. Michelle has been described as a bright, breezy, articulate woman who is fully in control of herself as actress, person and mother – in short a glamorous, absolute delight.
One of her former co stars, Tumisho Masha, who played Dumisani Thusong, was full of praise for her in a recent interview. He described the woman the country loves to hate as “So sensitive, she comes on set and she's generous to fellow actors. She doesn't have airs and graces at all. She's still one of the most down to earth people that I've ever met and she's the star of the show.”
Michelle Botes is a Capetonian who trained in her craft at Stellenbosch University and the University of Cape Town, graduating with a Performing Diploma (bilingual, which, of course, has helped her greatly in her work, since she is fluent in both English and Afrikaans). She also has a Teaching Diploma (for teaching English, Afrikaans and Drama) which she says her parents insisted on “for backup.” With her achievements as an actress I hardly think she’d have to resort to teaching, but one never knows, maybe one day when she is sixty and bored she might be training young wannabe stars.
Michelle is divorced from actor Ian Roberts and has a daughter Cara aged 17 and a son Daniel aged 12 who live with her in Johannesburg.
The one area of her life that can be considered similar to Cherel’s is that she has had a steamy relationship with Chris Beasley who plays Len in Isidingo and who is 10 years younger than her. South Africa’s own Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher!
We may not know the intimate details of Chris and Michelle's relationship, but the charming Chris shared quite a bit when he appeared on The Phat Joe Show. He told of how he asked Michelle out via SMSes. In fact their first intense exchanges were via SMS. The hot couple broke up because of unstated reasons after being together for a year. In an article on their break up, Michelle says this was the final split, after one too many irreconcilable differences. Apparently they split up 12 times in the 12 months they were together. Sounds like it was nothing short of volatile (but then again make up sex is the best!).
I always smile when Len makes reference to Cherel in the show. He’s invariably saying how “dark” she is and how she has men eating out of her hand. I can’t help but wonder what he really thinks.
Working on Isidingo has brought Michelle recognition galore. Apart from her keen acting ability she has also become famous for her incredible sense of style and sophistication. She has received a plethora of style, popularity and fashion awards including a Most Stylish SA Celeb, a Sunday Times/Elle “Fashionably First” Style Award and a Duku Duku Award for best screen villain for her role as scheming vixen, Cherel.
When asked why she accepted the Isidingo role, Michelle said, “It was the challenge of portraying a real, raw character in a soap – keeping it true and infusing it with humour.” She says she likes Cherel’s ability to avoid being stuck with blame, but to forge ahead and make things happen. “She’s never complacent, shakes things up and wills things into action.”
I was surprised to read that no one has long- term security on the show. If the producers still want your character, you are invited to sign a 12-month contract every year, but there is no automatic renewal clause, and even then, it is subject to a one-month notice agreement on both sides. So clearly being a regular on the soapie is hard graft and Michelle together with her evil character Cherel have been going strong for seven years with no end in sight.
Thank goodness for that. Can you imagine Isidingo without Cherel?
Love her or hate her – you can’t ignore her and The Deep just wouldn’t be the same without her.
What do you think?
*** Catch Isidingo on SABC 3 at 18h30 on weekdays.