Born and raised in Pretoria, Lindi Cecile – born Lindi van der Merwe – loved telling stories, performing and acting as a child. She dropped her surname and adopted the stage name Lindi Cecile.
Cecile decided that 2017 would be the year to leave everything behind and study acting at the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus.
The BA Information Design graduate was not finished with her studies when she left the University of Pretoria in 2016. Next up was a degree from the New York Film Academy, and she graduated in September 2019 with an MFA in Acting for Film.
Starring role in ‘Cricket Man’
The 25-year-old actress lives in Los Angeles and admits that the one thing she truly misses about South Africa is her family.
“I am very fortunate that they support me 100% with everything I do,” she says.
The Hollywood lifestyle has been both competitive and rewarding so Cecile has to be on top of her game.
It’s working so far. She says her comedic ability and extensive range of accents earned her the starring role in the award-winning film Cricket Man.
She also has had worked on “top projects with award-winning filmmakers like Virginia Blatter and Gabriele Fabbro”.
Then there is Cecile’s movie You Up? which is a dark comedy about insomnia. Grammy Award-winning musician and composer Terence Blanchard gave her input, as did George Clinton, the award-winning composer of Austin Powers.
Staying on top of lockdown
This year, like the rest of the world, Cecile has adapted her routine to the current climate.
“Even during this time I have still been working on something every day.”
So she has been auditioning online, submitting self-tapes, filming projects following SAG-AFTRA’s strict safety protocol and attending virtual film festivals.
“I’ve also been creating my own content and studying up on my craft even more,” she notes.
Cecile on #BlackLivesMatter
As has been widely publicised, the #BlackLivesMatter movement gained international attention after the death of George Floyd in May in the US. The movement takes a stand against racially motivated violence, discrimination and police brutality against African Americans.
Cecile has been noticing the overall mood of the industry in Hollywood.
“It’s been very inspiring and eye-opening to see so many people working together for positive change. There is a sense of revelation in the air,” she says.
Reassuringly, she says almost everyone she knows is doing what they can to make the community they live in safer. Thus, they are coming to realisations about themselves and the stories they are telling.
Working with the stars
During her time in Hollywood, Cecile has worked with, for and alongside actress Margot Robbie and directors Quentin Tarantino and Ryan Murphy.
She says her experience on set with Quentin Tarantino was nothing short of “extraordinary”.
“After he had secured coverage for each scene, he would say ‘okay guys, we’ve got it. But we’re gonna do one more take, because why?’ And then everyone on set would reply in unison ‘because we love making movies!’,” she says.
Likewise, being on set with Margot Robbie to film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood as “a sight to behold”.
“She went by the name of her character during filming. This kind of immersive acting is what makes an extraordinary actor.”
Working on the Ryan Murphy Netflix series The Politician was an amazing learning experience. She learned more about her “playing range” here.
It also prompted Cecile to work on a project with the YouTube star Tyler Regan where she played a younger character.
Cecile’s advice on acting
Although most people have the misconception that being an actress is “easy”, “fun” and even “superficial”, Cecile notes it is complex.
“Being an actor requires two sides of a person that do not often coincide: Emotional vulnerability, this empathetic softness, is one side.”
The other important quality an ability to handle criticism and to be savvy about business.
She encourages those who wish to follow a similar career path to “get to know your brand and your playing types”.
“Through working on your strengths, you can accept and embrace who you are which is more likely to lead to success.”