Ashleigh van der Hoven is a Film, TV and Theatre actress currently in Cape Town. She made her film debut in Canadian feature film, Shark Killer starring alongside American Heart-throb Derek Theler and shortly after appeared in German Feature film Zum Tuefel mit der Warheit alongside Bettina Zimmerman. Most recently, Ashleigh played Clea, a lead role in the much-anticipated Indie film, Cut-Out Girls where she tackled material around date rape and rape culture. The film is currently set to release end of 2018. She also recently starred as Alison in Bhai’s Café opposite Siv Ngesi which was directed by one of South Africa’s favourite directors, Maynard Kraak, set to release end of 2019 and Ashleigh also worked with edgy and award-winning director Ryan Kruger earlier this year on is experimental indie Feature Fried Barry.

She has also appeared in many short films – highlights include working with Katie Rose Lucas in Los Angeles and a film about Terror in the Middle East for USC Student, Majd Nassifi. Ashleigh is also currently member of The Coffee Break’s – an Improv troupe in Cape Town who are performing at the 2017 Mama City Improv Festival.

Ashleigh finished high school at Diocesan School for Girls boarding school in Grahamstown where she won the Best Actress Trophy, the subject prize for Drama and got a distinction. She left school to go straight to Los Angeles to study drama at the Stella Adler Acting Academy on the Actor’s Conservatory for 6 months but returned to Cape Town to study Finance and Economics at UCT. During the time spent obtaining her degree she made her theatre debut in Crimes of the Heart at the Masque Theatre and was consequently nominated for a CATA award for most Promising Newcomer.

Upon graduation of her Finance and Economics degree Ashleigh went on to study at ACT Cape Town in 2016 where she finished the 2nd year with distinction. A career highlight made possible by ACT was working with Nicola Hanekom and staring in her play, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, which ran at the 2017 US Wordfees in Stellenbosch as well as the Cape Town Fringe Festival. It was nominated for Best Play the Caper Town Fringe “Fresh Awards”.

When Ashleigh isn’t acting she is feeding her other passion, which is boxing. She has been boxing under pro-boxer, Stirling Shaw and is waiting for a few months gap in her acting career so that she may fight in an amateur boxing event. Ashleigh is also an obsessed horse rider and show jumper and steals away every now and then to gallop in greenbelts, flying over logs and cross-country jumps.

I had the opportunity to ask Ashleigh some questions on her journey thus far and what else we can expect from her for the remaining of 2018 and 2019.

RUAN: It is no surprise that you are talented in more ways than one! When and how did your love for acting start?

ASHLEIGH: I actually initially wanted to be a singer, however, fell in love with acting during my first drama class when I was 8 years old. I was an incredibly high energy child and the drama classroom was a place I did really well and truly excelled.

RUAN: Your new movie in the upcoming Indie film “Cut-Out-Girls” which tackles material around date rape is set to be released later this year. What was it like mentally and physically playing the role of Clea?

ASHLEIGH: Quite difficult initially. I love to do research and read books and get into the psychology of a character and the more I delved into the world of rape, the more overwhelmed I found myself with how deep this kind of trauma runs in someone and I really wanted to do the subject justice. Eventually though, something clicked in me and my imagination and I found myself deeply humbled to be able to be a part of this story and play her. Personaility-wise, we are quite similar so that was easy. I loved the challenge though and strive for that a lot in my acting. I like to feel in the beginning like I cant do it – because that propels me into working hard and pursuing the depth of the role relentlessly.

RUAN: You recently starred as Alison in Bhai’s Café opposite Siv Ngesi which was directed by on of South Africa’s favourite directors, Maynard Kraak. What was it like working with them?

ASHLEIGH: Awesome! It was more of a comedic role and I have known Siv since stand up days so it was so much fun being on set. Maynard is also such a lovely director and I had a lot of fun at the call-back with him. Maynard is very easy-going but still kind of holds a great pressence on set – so that was great to experience.

RUAN: Working with edgy and award-winning director Ryan Kruger earlier this year on the experimental Indie feature film “Fried Barry” must have been a dream come true. What were some of your highlights working alongside Ryan?

ASHLEIGH: It was also very fun. You’re kinda kept on your toes with him because his directing is unconventional and off-beat but it was a lot of fun and I had been wanting to work with him for a while, so it was great to be able to finally do that.

RUAN: What are some of your highlights as an actress?

ASHLEIGH: Honestly, being able to work with Nicola Hanekom during the course of 3 play runs of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and then subsequently plaing the same character in a film was incredible. Theatre is something that I love so much and you learn heaps and bounds by being on stage and then factor in award-winning, multi-talented Nicola, who, as a an actor’s director really holds this incredibly powerful emotional energy – it was just, so much of an incredible experience. And getting to play Clea over and over again. Then, lastly, factor in the magnitude of the subject of rape– especially in the current climate. That, simply that, is why I chose to be an actor. To tell meaningful, moving stories that transform people.

RUAN: I know you have spent some time in Los Angeles before. What has the experience been like taking classes and pursuing any filming opportunities there?

ASHLEIGH: Los Angeles is a tough place but having studied here and visited a lot sine 2010, I have a found an amazing crew of people and I think that is really important. Industry-wise, there is so much going on in LA, it is really easy to keep busy even if you’re not actually booking work. Which is important as an actor especially if you’re not a “working-actor” somewhere just yet. I have had the opportunity to do non-union and non-paid “passion projects” there with people which has been amazing. Prob a highlight was getting to act for Katie Rose Lucas – George Lucas’ Daughter. It was a really lovely experience. I am working on getting my Green Card for acting, so as soon as I have that I will pursue proper work opportunities and have some exciting things lined up.

RUAN: What else can we expect from Ashleigh for the remaining of 2018 and 2019?

ASHLEIGH: Some really exciting stuff. A big reason why I have decided to target the industry in LA is because I really have a huge affinity for and love of comedy which I am pouring a lot of my focus into. You can expect to see much more of my funny-side and my own writing projects that will come from a lot of my own stories etc.

RUAN: Who would you say has been your driving force leading you to your current success?

ASHLEIGH: Honestly, my parents. I owe everything to their support of my career and always encouraging me to go after my dreams, espcecially in such an unstable career choice and furthermore an indursty they know nothing about (my mom own a school in Cape Town and my dad is a businessman/entrepreneur of sorts). I am extremely lucky and grateful for them.

RUAN: What advice would you give to our youth here in South Africa who would love to follow in your footsteps and be able to reach their goals and dreams?

ASHLEIGH: Honestly, if you believe the world is your oyster, then it will be your oyster. It is cheesy to say that “you can do anything you set your mind to” but really – If you can align your thoughts with the fact that anything is possible, get specific on exactly what you want and then take inspired action from there: You really can manifest any of your dreams to come true!

RUAN: If you could some up your life right now using a hashtag (#) what would it be and why?

ASHLEIGH: #livingmybestlife , because I choose to only see the best and be the best and live the best. Yes there are tough times, and I am not always doing everything right (I.e making mistakes and failing), but I choose to make those times short lived by learning from them and being resilient. I am either living the best or learning to live the best and I honestly couldn’t ask for anything more. Also, this attitude makes practicing gratitude extremely easy.

RUAN: On which social media platforms can we continue to support and follow your on-going journey?

ASHLEIGH: My instagram is: @ashleighvdh, find me on facebook: and my twitter is not soooo active but you can find me there: @ashvdh.

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