Lelia Etsebeth is best known to South African moviegoers as Liezl in the hit teenage comedy trilogy, Bakgat! (Cool!), Bakgat! 2 and Bakgat! 3, as well as for her role as Maggie in the thriller Wolwedans in die Skemer (Wolves dancing at Dusk). Lelia dazzled audiences in Bakgat! as an innocent blonde who dreams about getting married. This character is in stark contrast with the one Lelia portrayed in Wolwedans in die Skemer. In the latter, she delivers a performance as a shy, schizophrenic girl with dark secrets. Even though these two films showcase Lelia’s versatility as an actress, she has depicted many other characters on sreen.
In 2011 Lelia appeared as Saskia, a gutsy hair stylist, in the film Superhelde (Superheroes). She also played the leading role in the motion picture ‘n Saak van Geloof (A matter of belief) and was one of the pranksters in the films, Ek Joke Net! (Just Joking) and Ek Joke Net 2. Lelia is proud to be part of the cast of Molly en Wors: Die Movie (Molly and Wors: The Movie) which was screened in cinemas in October 2013. She played the role of an air hostess named Bokkie Botha. Lelia also starred in the sitcom Vir Beter of Baie Beter (For better or Much Better), in which she portrayed the same character as in Molly en Wors: Die Movie.
Television viewers initially got to know Lelia in her role as Lucy – a drug addicted teenager – in the drama series Erfsondes (Sins of our fathers). She also played in the popular series Getroud met Rugby (Married to Rugby) and in the programme The Last Say on Sunday. Lelia was seen as the character Magriet in Deon Opperman’s Television Drama, Donkerland (Dark country), as Steffie in P.G du Plessis’ Pandjieswinkel Stories (Pawnshop stories) and as Esther in the daily drama, Binneland.
Lelia loves working in front of the camera, yet remains passionate about theatre. From 2009 to 2012 she toured the country as one of the lead characters in acclaimed South African playwright Reza de Wet’s drama, Mis (Mist). In 2012 she shared the stage with South African theatre legends Tobie Cronjé and Hannes Muller in the farce, My Vrou se Man se Vrou (My Wife’s Husband’s Wife). Lelia wrote a one-woman show, Bokkie Botha, which she continued to perform at the Aardklop Arts Festival in 2013.
Radio listeners will recognise Lelia’s voice for her portrayal of a variety of characters in various Radio Dramas. Some of these include Ratels (Honey Badgers), Afsluiting (Ending), Dagboek van ‘n Wurm (Diary of a worm), Susters en Skandes (Sisters and Scandals), Wolwedans in die Skemer (Wolves dancing at dusk), Die Huis van Bernarda Alba (Bernarda Alba’s House) and the radio drama version of Mis (Mist). Children might recognise Lelia’s voice as that of the character Thombi in the Afrikaans version of the animation Kumba or as the princess in Die sneeukoningin (The snow queen).
Apart from her work as an actress, Lelia is also utilising her talents as casting director for feature films. She has been in charge of the casting of some of the most successful South African feature films and television programs. Among them are the box office hits Vir Altyd, Pad na jou Hart, Wolwedans in die Skemer, Hoofmeisie and the critically acclaimed Roepman and Donkerland.
When she is not in front or behind the camera, on stage or behind the microphone, Lelia is a part-time student and part-time lecturer. In 2012 she received her Masters degree in Drama from the Tshwane University of Technology and is currently completing her PhD in Drama. She teaches Film Acting and Radio Drama to Drama students at the University of Pretoria.