Nat Geo Thanksgiving Drama Saints & Strangers Star Roxane Hayward: Exclusive Interview

Roxane Hayward

Roxane Hayward

The Cape Town model and actress talks about the challenge of shooting a feature film and TV mini-series at the same time and her breast-feeding audition, Saints & Strangers premiers on November 22 and 23 9/8c

By Gabrielle Pantera

HOLLYWOOD, CA (Hollywood Daily Star) 2015/11/19 – Roxane Hayward was working on the film Accident when she got the call to be in the Nat Geo Pilgrims-and-Indians Thanksgiving mini-series Saints & Strangers.

“The biggest challenge while shooting Saints & Strangers was going from one set where I played a young, fun, sexy, happy-go-lucky Californian girl to a new set straight afterward where I played a pregnant, redheaded, woebegone British woman from the 1600s,” says Saints & Strangers star Roxane Hayward. “But that is the joy of acting. You get to change who you are and transform. The crew from Accident got to know me quite well, so it was hilarious when I arrived on set for Saints & Strangers excited to see some of the same crew members, only to discover than none of them recognized me…at all.”

Susanna White Winslow (portrayed by Roxane Hayward)

Susanna White Winslow (portrayed by Roxane Hayward)

Accident had an intense shooting schedule with over a month of night shoots in the middle of Cape Town’s winter. Hayward was doing her own stunts for it, too. Hayward almost didn’t make it to her audition for Saints & Strangers. “The casting director managed to squeeze me in on a Sunday evening, the only free time I had. The audition was quick. I only had one scene to perform, beautifully written by Seth Fisher. But, the scene involved my character breast-feeding. I’ve never done that before, so I had to get very creative with how I was going to do it without it looking too bizarre, fake or revealing.”

Saints & Strangers premiers on television on November 22 and 23 9/8c. Nat Geo presented a theatrical premiere of the first episode of Saints & Strangers at the Saban Theatre in Hollywood. “The premiere was the first time I had seen any of it,” says Hayward. “It was incredible to watch how it all came together and how the story, which I had read so many times in the script, came alive on screen. I enjoy watching myself on screen. Am I the only actor who thinks that? I hope not. It is awesome and rewarding seeing your hard work pay off. At times it can be slightly uncomfortable and, yes, I am hard on myself, but I think any individual is their own worst critic. But by watching yourself, you learn a lot and set a benchmark from which you grow.”

Shooting Saints & Strangers

Shooting Saints & Strangers

On set Hayward avoids watching playbacks of her takes on the monitors. “I like to rather feel the scene, work with my fellow actors and trust the director,” says Hayward. “It is always fun seeing how it all comes together in the final product, months down the line. It was surprising to see how attached I became to my character Susanna White, based on the real person. When arriving on these beautifully crafted sets, I was almost teleported into another era and world. As shooting continued I became even more connected to the journey that she had made and how she must has felt…scared, overwhelmed, but also optimistic and extremely determined. I felt like I walked in her footsteps.”

Hayward, who’s a successful model, says acting has always been her main focus and ambition. “Almost every decision ever made when growing up has been to aid me in my future acting career, which is now a reality. My dreams and goals are always in the back of my mind. Accident is my first lead role in a feature film, so is a very proud moment for me.”

Saints & Strangers shot in Cape Town at a wine farm, a beach location, a forest, and at Cape Town Film Studios. Principal photography lasted about two months. “Cape Town is quite a small town in comparison to London or L.A.,” says Hayward. “So, you get to see familiar faces between the fashion and film industries…from hair and makeup artists, to directors of photography, to photographers.”

Hayward was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. She moved to Cape Town to study drama and musical theatre at Trinity Guildhall and modern, tap and ballet dancing at The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance. “Modeling is something that I just fell into while I was studying,” says Hayward. “In my second year of studying, I was approached by a modeling agency and thought, why not?” Hayward is also a singer, however recording an album had to be put on hold because her acting career is so full.

Hayward is am attached to a project shooting next year and is a passionate supporter of the charity Breadline Africa.

Instagram and Twitter @roxanehayward.


Roxane Hayward image provided by Roxane Hayward. Saints & Strangers images courtesy of Nat Geo. Roxane Hayward was interviewed on 2015/11/16.

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