5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Started Acting: Kandyse McClure of Battlestar Galactica
“The best you can be is your most authentic self. You are a bad copy of everyone else.”
I had the pleasure to speak to Kandyse McClure, a phenomenal actress originally from Durban, South Africa that you may recognize as ‘Anastasia Dualla’ in SyFy’s “Battlestar Galactica”, as well as ‘Dr. Clementine Chasseur’ in Netflix’s “Hemlock Grove” and ‘Sarikin’ in Seventh Son. You can watch her on SyFy’s newest series, “Ghost Wars” every Thursday at 10/9c.
We’d love to learn more about your career, please tell us how you got into acting.
Right out of high school, I got cast in Athol Fugard’s “Valley Song”, his first post-apartheid play. The call originally came for my mom, who said maybe you would want to speak to my daughter. The role was really playing myself, a 17-year-old girl from South Africa dreaming of being a star. I booked an agent from that run of the show, and he’s been my agent ever since.
You lived in South Africa for a large chunk of your youth- on and off until you were 17. How did living in Apartheid influence you? I understand you didn’t realize the oppression you were living under until you got older?
This is a controversial thing to say, but as a system — purely — Apartheid was nearly perfect. Each level of society existed in its own self-reflecting bubble, so in that respect, yes, I didn’t quite realize the magnitude of how wrong it all was. It has shaped me because I place a very high value, as would everyone I imagine, on my freedom. Freedom is everything.
How different do you think you would be if you were to be growing up in South Africa today?
I would speak Zulu. I already have a very diverse group of friends, but I imagine more so , and perhaps, I wouldn’t be burdened with a lot of the self-limiting collective consciousness. That was kind of the fruit of the Apartheid regime. I would be, as they are called, “born free”.
Do you still consider it home to you?
Absolutely. That red dirt runs in my veins. I will always be South African. I will always go back home.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your acting career?
The look on Vincent D’Onofrio’s face when, in the middle of the scene, I abandoned my activity to deliver a line. After “cut!” he would not let me live it down! We were still laughing about it on the flight to San Diego Comic Con.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Can you tell us a little more about “Ghost Wars”?
Ghost Wars to me is part horror (for all those gore fans), part family drama, part love story, and part comedy. It’s an interesting mix, and a small a target we’re aiming for. But I love it!
What are the similarities and differences between you and your character, ‘Landis Barker’?
Well, our first names sound very much the same, don’t they? I like to think I’m a lot more social than Landis is; she’s not so great with people. I have my awkward moments, though. I’m also really interested in the balance of courage and self doubt that she struggles with throughout the season.
One of the things that stands out about “Ghost Wars” is the cast. What was it like to work alongside such an incredible cast?
People always say that they love their cast, but it’s not always true. It’s an intense relationship. You go from, usually, not knowing these people, to having to create intimacy with them right away. Thankfully, we all gelled pretty quickly after the read through. I have such respect for these people. I rely on them wholeheartedly to show in their work, and they make me better for it.
Which people in history (and the industry) inspire you the most? Why?I mean, I could give you a list of names. There are many leaders and wildly creative people to choose from. but really, it would be anyone that did something dangerously new. That moved their passion further even though they were outside the crowd.
Who do you aspire to be like one day?
The fully realized of version of myself, that I am already now, and will live into being.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I’ve inspired to work with charitable organizations like, Care Canada and Save the Children, particularly focusing on their women and girl initiatives. Honestly, I want to do so much more, and I’m figuring a lot of that out right now. There is so much need in the world, how can I best be of service?
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Stop trying to guess what they want. They don’t know, but they do want to feel something, so make them feel!
- The best you can be is your most authentic self. You are a bad copy of everyone else.
- You never know how it’s going to turn out. Failure leads to success, and success leads to challenge. You just never know! Take everything as it comes, and do your best.
- You are enough! You do not have to have it all figured out.
- Failing is learning. Do it often. As a young actor, I was in Los Angela for pilot season. This was right after the BSG mini series. I was going through a tough time with auditions (or lack thereof), not really feeling like I knew what my role was or what the industry wanted from me. I got an audition for the 4400, and through a series of unfortunate events, found myself in the casting room in front of all the producers, completely bombing my audition…or so I thought. I got really depressed about it, and after a few days, my roommate at the time, the gorgeous Erica Cerra, got so fed up and dragged me out of the house. While we were out, I got a call from my manager, who didn’t sound happy. In one phone call, I learned that I had booked that audition that I thought I had bombed, but I couldn’t do the role because I had been asked back as a series regular on the new Battlestar Galactica series. The lesson? Just be yourself and do your best, because you just never know. Take the hits on the chin, and keep moving.
Is there a person in the world, living or dead whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
I always say this. It would have to be Eartha Kitt because she was so phenomenally herself. She was a pioneer in many ways, and she seems like she would be my kind of crazy.
Please share with us where people can find you on social media. — @kandysemcclure on both Twitter and Instagram. Website kandymac.com
What’s next up for you? — Moving Parts is an independent film that I am deeply proud of that will be premiering at the Denver Film Festival in November I’ll be in South Africa in a couple of weeks to begin filming Sew the Winter to my Skin, by Jahmil Qubeka.