South Africa has always been home to some of the world’s greatest talents, and next on that list is Sanaa Shaik a young South African woman who is currently making waves within the acting space. Sanaa was born in Durban and later moved to Johannesburg, in grade 11 Sanaa and her family immigrated to Australia where she finished high school and went on to attain her bachelor’s in commerce at Curtin university and Masters at Sydney University.
It has been a while since Sanaa left South Africa but till this day, she still draws strength from the vibrance and diversity of our country. Sanaa is currently flying the South African flag high with her lead role on the popular Netflix series Dive Club where she portrays the gutsy and headstrong, Stevie Harrison. Which has also just been up for nomination in the “Best Children’s Program” category in the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards this year.
Starting out as a young actor comes with a fair set of challenges. Sanaa did not complete a typical acting degree, however opted for various workshops and being part of many short films to learn the business. However, this left Sanaa to network, learn the do’s and don’ts of the business and find a community on her own. Striving to become a working actor can sometimes be a lonely and tough road filled with much rejection. In addition, when Sanaa started out there unfortunately were limited roles on offer for people of colour, but “over the last few years its been so refreshing to see that change because not only is representation important its allows new stories from different backgrounds to be told.”
Like any other actor Sanaa draws inspiration from people who are not only actors but who are creators and writers as well, such as Michaela Cole, Ramy Yousef, Phoebe Waller Bridge. For Sanaa acting isn’t just a career she’s passionate about, too her it is an experience and a tool of self-expression.
When thinking about home, its the smaller things in life Sanaa misses about South Africa like; Astros and Bunny Chows. Sanaa has always been family oriented and not having access to her extended family has been tough on her.
“South Africa truly is a hidden gem, the kind of talent that South Africa produces definitely is world class and I am proud to be to be representing my country on the world stage” says Sanaa. Growing in her acting career Sanaa looks forward to being a part of a hopeful second season of Dive Club and finally landing that Marvel role! Having her sights set on the US film industry Sanaa intends on show casing the acting talent that South Africa produces.
Sanaa strives to be a role model for upcoming actors especially in South Africa and her tips for breaking into the industry include “Not being afraid to jump out the box when in the audition room”, “always focus on yourself its easy to look around and get overwhelmed” and “always remember that roles that are meant for you will always be yours”.
About Sanaa Shaik
Shaik was born and raised in Durban, South Africa. She is of Indian, English, Egyptian, and Arab descent. She attended Crawford College, La Lucia. Her family relocated to Perth, Australia in 2008 where she completed her secondary education at Applecross Senior High School the following year. She went on to graduate from Curtin University in 2013.
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