The Wit & Wisdom of Nic Leonidas

Godfrey Johnson enjoys the wit and wisdom of Nic Leonidas. Below is how the exchange between the two went down...... GJ: Dear Nic, yo...

Godfrey Johnson enjoys the wit and wisdom of Nic Leonidas.

Below is how the exchange between the two went down......

GJ: Dear Nic, you have a rather exotic name, please tell us more about your background?

NL: Well my name is thanks to my farther, Nicholas Leonidas, who is Greek Cypriot and he married my mother Femma Maria Isabella van Schalkwyk Leonidas – it’s a mouth full! I have two siblings, a brother and sister, both older than me. And we are very clearly defined as the corporate, the sporty and the creative; with me being the latter.

My background is as diverse as our beautiful African continent. My career journey started in professional acting, before leading me behind the scenes, where I managed peers in the same field. Creativity and curiosity did not kill the cat but instead drew me to Graphic Design and Brand Management/Awareness. I worked with law firms globally, setting up a 10-person design studio.

When it was time to spread my wings, people became the focus: Event -design, -management, and -coordination took on this role. With events being seasonal and a sporadic spend of my time, combined with my need to pay it forward, my career tracker highlighted “Emerging Stars”, where I became the Marketing Coordinator for said Impact Investment Concern.

I then moved to Swakopmund, Namibia and became the Marketing Manager of West Coast FM.

Since returning to Cape Town, South Africa, I have been active in the entertainment industry for over a decade: in front of the camera, as a casting director, as an actors’ agent, as a radio presenter and most recently as theatre director and producer. I present a radio show called “Kunskardoes” on an online radio station – “Jou Stasie”. I am also a freelance Studio Director for Kayos Casting Directors and most recently, one of the founding members of Authentik Management, representing some of Cape Town and Johannesburg’s most exciting up-and-coming actors to the film, television, commercial and theatre environments.


GJ: You are an actor, director, all round creative and business person. How  are you able to juggle all of this with such style and calmness?

NL: Style and calmness? My acting training is paying off! No, in all honesty I have been living on a very thrilling rollercoaster of adventures and my success and all-round grounded demeanour has much to do with the support of my fellows, my friends, my family; in short – my inner circle. I have recently come to the realisation that if I move out of thinking in “I” statements and live in a world of “We” that life becomes infinitely easier to enjoy and experience.

GJ: Mark Twain said, ”How can you see straight when your imagination is out of focus?” How do you keep yours in focus?

NL: I have adopted an outlook of curiosity; by looking at any situation, difficult or enriching, with an open mind and asking myself where I can find the gratitude in it. This attitude brings me a sense of calmness and in the stillness I find focus.
Admittedly, my attention span is limited hence wearing many hats to keep my busy mind occupied. I have learned the hard way that “Me time” and kindness to myself is very important and as such I do take time for myself by means of meditation, a daily yoga practice (well most days), and of course having a support system in place to bounce ideas off, to just chat to, laugh with, and most importantly to tell me when I am off kilter.

GJ: What is your idea of a good night at the theatre?

NL: I adore theatre, from drama to dance to comedy to experimental – I enjoy the experience of going to The Theatre! I have a partner in crime, George Heathcote, who is very English when it comes to theatre and books weeks in advance – I simply receive a scheduled meeting on my calendar, how divine.
And a typical theatre night for us includes dressing up (a must), dinner in good company, the enjoyment of the pre-show vibe, mingling with other theatre lovers and, of course, the main event, the production itself. To sum it up: good food, great friends and a night ending in a few additional laugh lines.

GJ: How do you relax?

NL: Relax is an odd word for me as I have an overactive mind and I struggle to still it. My downtime includes reading plays, binge watching a series, taking a walk on the promenade, working on my yoga practice and then my favourite hobby – cooking, baking, canning – I am always in the kitchen baking a cake or a bread or a new creation, inviting friends over for what we have made into a new tradition; our Sunday Lunches. And don’t forget the canning; beetroot, pickled onions, piccalilli… Although all of these activities includes work, to me, it is very relaxing and the methodology behind it keeps my headspace in tune.

GJ: Where do you find inspiration?

NL: Inspiration to me takes on different forms and comes from the physical, emotional and mental. I love nature (do not spend enough time appreciating it) and it is a very pivotal source to me. I walk a lot which keeps me connected to my urban surroundings which evokes stories and messages to be told in different forms – theatre, food, writing, a voice note to someone, a social media post, an act of kindness, a simple smile to a passer-by. Inspiration should not be contained it should be shared and embraced. My life choice to look at everything from a curious point of view has given colour to many a grey concept. Oscar Wilde said: “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go”. And I relate to this quote so much; I have lived an uninspired life for a very long time where I became a chameleon on the elusive wallpaper of life and curiosity gave me the inspiration to transform myself into the full colour me I am today – even if it clashes with the wallpaper!

GJ: Can you name some memorable moments in your career and why?

NL: Sjoe what a good question, we tend to forget the good moments don’t we? The most memorable moment in my career was actually playing the dame, Nursie Nora Nobrain, in the Pantomime, Doringrosie. Although only our school play, this is where the performer in me ignited. Working with Francois Toerien and Nicole Holm opened a whole new universe to my very blinkered outlook on professions.
Another would have to be working with Rhona Mitra and Bob Hoskins on Doomsday, albeit a small part I learned so much from them.
Sitting around a camp fire with Sir Ian McKellen and Sean Mathias after first night of Antigone; how can meeting Magneto not be a reason! And what a directing genius Sean Mathias is!
Having the privilege to work alongside Jervis Pennington on his Musical Memoir, An Extraordinarily Ordinary Life; we have those rare occasions where we learn gratitude and this was one them.
Admittedly, I have memorable moments every time I get to pick up the phone and relay the message to an actor – They want to confirm you for this production – it truly gives me a sense of purpose and I appreciate the supporting role I play in the lives of my peers.
I have to mention the starting of Authentik Management, with George Heathcote on my side. I believe my life within this industry has groomed me to become the person who I am today (not always the easiest) and to follow the path I am on.
Thank you Godfrey, for giving me the opportunity to reminisce on my journey so far!

GJ: Please tell us about the business?

NL: Authentik Management is a boutique Actor’s Agency that puts the artist front and centre – ‘their success is our success’. After working at various agencies in the UK and in Cape Town, respectively, George and I discovered that we share the passion for the business of show business but with the goal of offering actors and environment that is nurturing, creative and safe. Establishing our office at 206 Buitengracht Street, Cape Town, our vision of being a creative space became a reality.
Authentik Management soon staked out its territory in the Cape Town scene, placing actors in theatre, several TV series and feature films as well as a myriad of interesting commercials in our first year. The company grew rapidly and by 2018, it was time to branch out, literally, and a secondary office quickly came together in Craighall, Johannesburg.
Without pausing for a beat, in 2019, and subscribing to our core value of encouraging artists to take responsibility for their own career – Authentik Productions was born. With a number of productions lined up for 2020, the sky is the limit for this team of like-minded creative, business people of ours.

GJ: Who are your favourite writers, musicians, artists?

NL: This is a most difficult question as I don’t really have favourites. Writing genres would be Drama, Thriller, Biographies, The Royals (yes it’s a genre for me). I will have to include the classic writers like Tennessee Williams, Oscar Wilde, Shakespeare, Agatha Christi and then of course local writers like Nicola Hannekom, Ingrid Jonker, Peter Heyes, and for fluff I would read Jackie Collins and the like. Music genres would be Pop, Jazz, Broadway, with musicians who draw my attention to include Anthony and the Johnsons, Edith Piaf, Nana Mouskouri, Liza Minelli, Pink Martini, Amanda Strydom and Elsabe Zietsman. Art genres would be Pop Art, Abstract I am not a big fan of still life. Artists who fascinate me is Jackson Pollock, Rene Magritte, Rizzi, Andy Warhol.
I must mention though, that this list changes on my mood – so very constant!

GJ: What have you got up your sleeve for 2020?

NL: Dear Godfrey, a girl does not reveal her secrets! Mmmmm – 2020 holds many aspirations and I will give you a broad outline. We will be growing Authentik Management from strength to strength, continuing our ethos of ‘their success is our success’ so watch this space!
As per our mission statement we believe Artists should create their own work and as such Authentik Productions will be working with some very exciting actors and actresses on a theatre production or two... There’s a birdy tweeting about film. And be on the lookout for an exhibition here and there, poetry readings and an overall sense of collaboration.

GJ: This is an unpredictable and sometimes challenging career. What advice do you have for young folk who are interested in pursuing a career in the arts?

NL: Unpredictable and challenging – two very exciting words and when you look at them with a curious mind becomes the inspiration to many a journey. My advice is very simple and somewhat corny: Believe in yourself and follow your dream. The arts is no longer a taboo career choice but one which you can grab and embrace wholeheartedly and be successful in if you have the passion, put in the hard work, constantly upskill yourself, stay on trend, have a social media presence, be awake, make good choices, the list goes on but most importantly learn the skill of the business of being in the arts. It’s one thing to be an artist. Its another to run a business. And you are your business!

GJ: Can you name your top shows of 2019?

NL: Here they are in no particular order
1. Kinky Boots
2. An Extraordinarily Ordinary Life
3. Gertrude Stein and a Companion
4. Vaslav
5. The Glass Menagerie
6.  In the bar of a Tokyo Hotel
7. Koningin Lear
8. Kamphoer
9. A Star is Born: The rise and fall of Judy Garland
10. Offbeat Broadway

GJ: There is a glorious bond that we all share as artists, I recently felt that very strongly when I was backstage with the Kinky Boots cast, such passion, joy and  support. Sometimes we encounter truly negative types, what would you say to the artist who bitches and complains constantly?

NL: Some people do have a negative disposition on life in general and even I sometimes (surely all of us) has experienced low days. On those days I always look at where I can find the gratitude in the situation, however small that is. This usually puts a smile on my face as I realise how silly I am to act like a pompous idiot - If you cannot say something constructive keep quiet.

GJ: Thanks for chatting sir, when will we see you perform again?

NL: 2020 will hopefully see me on stage again. I am still searching for a script that resonates with me and open this call to anyone who would give me the opportunity and extend a part to me they fee would suit. After watching you in Vaslav you are someone I would love to share a stage with as I feel there’s so much to learn from you.
 Channels of communication

Facebook: Nic Leonidas
Instagram: nic.leonidas007
Email: nic@authentik.co.za
Website: www.authentik.co.za
Authentik Management CT Office
206 Buitengracht Street, Bo-Kaap, 8001
0211 804 884
info@authentik.co.za
Authentik Management JHB Office
Office 137, 1st Floor Valley Centre, 396 Jan Smuts Avenue, Craighall, Johannesburg, 2196
010 900 3929
info@authentik.co.za

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Urban Craft Magazine: The Wit & Wisdom of Nic Leonidas
The Wit & Wisdom of Nic Leonidas
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Urban Craft Magazine
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