7de Laan's Dezi Through Elma's Eyes

Written by Tashi from the blog Interviews on 12 Jun 2006
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elma_finalOne of my top priorities during my recent shenanigans on the set of 7de Laan was to have a chinwag with actress Elma Postma who plays Dezi Terreblanche on the show.

Wounded by a blow to the head that put her in a coma, Dezi awoke blinded, forced to adjust to a whopping change that impacted not only on her, but on Elma too. I was quizzy to find out more about this and of course I had to snoop to see whether or not Dezi will get her sight back.

Here’s what Elma had to say:

Tashi: What are the main the differences between you and Dezi?
Elma: I’m not that ambitious and I’m not that idealistic. Dezi’s very idealistic – nothing is impossible for her. I’m definitely a bit older than she is and I’m a bit more cynical about life and relationships and I’m not a business woman. I hate doing business and admin and stuff like that and she loves it and she’s good with it.

I think she’s the good version of me. I’m everything that she is, but not that much.

Tashi: What are the similarities between you?
Elma: Well, she’s friendly –.I like to be good to other people, to take the best out of a situation if I can. If I see something going wrong I’ll say “Okay, what can we do to correct this?”

When I’m in a relationship I like to be loyal and she’s like that – although she almost had that affair with Theuns a year ago. She’s a good friend – and I also try to be a good friend to people.

Tashi: What’s the easiest and most enjoyable thing about playing Dezi and working on 7de Laan?
Elma: I love everything. I love the heartache, I love the long hours. Nothing’s easy really – sometimes if you look at the scene and think it’s gonna be easy and then you get on stage and the most easy things are the most difficult things. You have to focus and you have to stay with the programme all the time.

Tashi: What’s the most difficult thing?
Elma: When they challenge me with things like playing emotional scenes and being blind – you’ve really got to focus. If anyone distracts your attention then you can’t do it anymore. It’s not that you can always just go on set and do it – you have to work on your character. You have to think about where she’s going and what she’s going through.

Tashi: What are the things you’ve discovered as a result? Like where you've gone: “Wow – I didn’t know or realise that before.”
Elma: As an actress I learn something new every day. What’s interesting with playing blind is that I have to cut myself off from the people on set and from colours and from everything – I don’t really see – it’s a whole new mindset I’ve had to learn. Because I can’t communicate with everyone, it also started to happen in my real-life in a way.

Like I’m building this thing around myself because I’m blind and I don’t have to look people in the eyes. It was very difficult thing to do in the beginning – not to see - and now in my real life I have to really concentrate on looking into people’s eyes. It’s a strange thing that happens.

Tashi: What did you do to prepare for playing Dezi’s blindness?
Elma: I had a lot of notes from the Association For The Blind on how to walk with a walking stick and how you handle people who are blind and how you handle the setting – like in Madel’s place, they can’t move the furniture, it has to look the same so Dezi knows what’s going on around her.

It's like something happens in my brain – when I’m playing blind – it’s like a certain part that just cuts off.

Tashi: So do you actually not see anybody when you’re acting?
Elma: Yes, interestingly enough. The one day Paula sat in front of me and she had a bright green shirt on and then it was difficult for me not to see her but most of the time I can cut everyone off.

posth,a_elma_tashiTashi: When you heard she was going blind – did you think: “Please let her not be blind forever!”
Dezi: Ja, I thought - "Okay you can do this to me for a while," - but it’s been how many months now?”

I was so scared when they told me because it’s such a huge thing for an actor to suddenly be blind. It’s not like a movie where you prepare and you’re blind for two months – you have to do this continuously. I

If you make one mistake people are gonna see it and they’ll see that you’re seeing something so the long-term thing scared me and you have a lot of critical people who watch you with an eagle’s eye and they see everything you do and they’re not scared to comment on it. A lot of people actually asked my parents if I put something in my eyes like contact lenses or drops – which isn’t the case.

Tashi: If you weren’t an actress what would you have been?
Elma: Um – something to do with history. Old buildings – an archeologist or something. I love the idea of old things and the past and the mysteries.

Tashi: Do you live in the past?
Elma: Maybe, sometimes. I always envision myself being a queen in the medieval times. I think I might have been. I dunno. Beautiful surroundings, medieval times, mountains. Definitely in a castle.

Tashi: What’s your favourite emotion to play?
Elma: I enjoy it when I have to think – when I have to dig into emotions. I love crying –

Tashi: Can you do the thing where you just start crying?
Elma: It takes a lot of concentration. I remember once when I had problems with Jan Hendrik – I think it was before we got married – and I had to cry for the whole day and then you have to frikkin’ focus everything because I had a scene and then a scene in between and one guy came to me and said: “How do you get to right to cry so easily?” and I was like: “You can’t speak to me now! The moment you talk to me I can’t!”

Tashi: To make it happen do you think about something that’s happened to you in the past that made you cry?
Elma: You have to use your emotional memories otherwise it’s not necessarily gonna work. I really think: “What will I do if Jan Hendrik leaves me now?” My character loves his character so much.”

I can really live this other life in a way – and then I can go home and leave my problems at work. Sometimes when I have to cry a lot I get to a point where I think: “Okay, I can’t cry about this anymore. Really, I’m over it now.”

Tashi: Are you talking about you or being in your character?
Elma: In the character, but I also deal with real life issues – things that I think about – I also deal with them. I cry it out and move on. It’s important to keep the balance and not make your character you though.

Tashi: Ja, I always think that about Daniel Day Lewis who apparently refused to get out of a wheelchair for three months while he was making My Left Foot. To me that's taking it way over the edge.
Elma: I think maybe for a movie, that’s possible – but not for a soap. I mean I couldn’t spend months with no end walking around as if I were really blind.

Tashi: Hehe, imagine.
Elma: You’d be a wreck.

Tashi: So – will Dezi ever see again?
Elma: We’ll have to see.


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