We all fell in love with Kandyse McClure for her portrayal of Dee Dualla in the sci-fi thriller Battlestar Galactica, followed by her role as Dr. Clementine Chasseur in Hemlock Grove. The versatile actress from Durban, South Africa transitioned her acting talent from sci-fi television to sexy thriller film in the soon-to-be released Careful What You Wish For. McClure is on hiatus in South Africa enjoying the simple life of getting dirty, and we mean literally getting dirty: growing vegetables, composting anything organic, and cooking for family and friends. This D.I.Y. girl stays true to herself as she prepares for her wedding and next Hollywood role, which you should definitely stay tuned for.
Cliché: Everyone is so excited about Careful What You Wish For, scheduled for release early next year. Tell us a little about the plot and your character, Angie Alvarez. How were you cast for the role?
Kandyse McClure: I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s a sensual “whodunnit” with a twist. Angie is a straight-talking insurance agent sent to uncover the truth behind the story. She seems to get under everyone’s skin in the process. I self-taped for the role, then had my callback on Skype. I love technology. I can be anywhere in the world and still do my job.
What’s an interesting behind the scenes story you have while filming Careful What You Wish For?
Listening to Nick [Jonas] play his guitar during shooting breaks was very cool. He’s a really down-to-earth person. Going out to dinner with him and the cast was a bit more intense; young girls on a mission to take his picture or get his autograph are very resourceful. They would find our set even in the most remote and obscure locations and hide behind stuff or beg PA’s to tell them where he was. He was also so gracious with them all, though.
From sci-fi to a sexy thriller—was the transition difficult?
Every character, every set, is a transition in a way. Each one presents its own challenges and rewards.
Many of your fans loved your performance as Dr. Clementine Chasseur in Hemlock Grove. Tell us a little about your character. Was it a surprise that the character left the show after What God Wants?
The fans really came out for me on that show. I’m so appreciative of all their feedback and support. It really means the world. Clementine was a lone wolf (pardon the pun). She was layered, complex, tormented, and deeply satisfying to play. I had read the book before we started shooting, so I knew she would meet her end. I was just happy to be along for the ride.
Tell us a little about growing up in South Africa, your family, and what brings you back today.
Ha! There are so many stories; we would be here all day. I loved growing up in SA. I had a very happy childhood. This is a very family-oriented and social culture with great national pride and tons of style. My mother is an educator, my father is a musician, my grandfather was a doctor, and my grandmother was the most incredible homemaker. She cared for her husband and children’s every need, spoiled them, maintained the house inside and out, gardened, cooked, was always the hostess, made all our clothes for years and years, knitted all our sweaters, created all our formal gowns (she made my mom’s wedding dress and my prom dress), and still managed to do yoga every morning and always look elegant and effortless. I hope to be half the woman she is.
Who’s your inspiration in life?
Only one? Let’s see… My best friend, Maree. She lived life with passion and fearlessness. She reminds me to always stay true to myself and to dare to dream and then do it. My mother—she is the bravest person I know, giving up all vocational and familial security to travel halfway across the world in search of a better life. More than that, she succeeded in achieving it and continues to thrive and be a pioneer in her field of education. Also, Eartha Kitt. She was a force of nature. Elegant, uncompromising, and ferocious, she changed the landscape for women of color in film and music.
What is the biggest public misconception about you?
I think people would be surprised at how simply I live. I grow my own food whenever I can, make most of my own facial and body care, and love to sew and cook. Also, I’m obsessed with composting to a slightly embarrassing degree.
It seems like your first big break was playing Dee Dualla in Battlestar Galactica. How did you get the role and how did it change your life?
Playing Dee changed my life in every way imaginable. I honed my craft against some of the most talented and accomplished actors in the business. They then proceeded to become like family to me. It allowed me to affect in huge ways the lives of my family and loved ones. I’ve travelled and met so many amazing fans and people. Its legacy allows me to continue to thrive in an industry that more often than not is a labor of love but doesn’t always pay the bills. We also won a Peabody. My grandfather was very, very proud.
If you weren’t an actor, what would you be?
Andy Warhol said, “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art.” I would love to be an entrepreneur and motivate other women, particularly those from low opportunity backgrounds, to financial independence. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a chef. Maybe opening a bistro with a craft store attached to it? Hey, that’s not a bad idea…
How do you compare acting in a feature film to a television series?
They each require a different kind of stamina. In film, the days are often shorter but because you’re shooting the same scene for much longer you need to bring fresh energy to every take. In television, the days are often very long, but you’re shooting so many scenes, usually out of order. You need to be keenly aware of where you are emotionally in your character at all times.
What are some fun facts about you that you haven’t shared before?
I love digging in soil, being barefoot in my house, and reading recipe books like novels. Growing up, my friends used to tease me and call me the walking thesaurus because I used to actually read the thesaurus. I consider myself a pretty good cook, but for some reason, I ALWAYS burn toast. I have the uncanny ability to find anything that’s lost, anywhere. No, really. Try me.
You now live in Vancouver, British Columbia and work with CARE Canada. Tell us about your work with CARE.
My mother and I have been longtime supporters of CARE. We believe in the power of young women in particular to change not only their circumstances, but to improve the lives of everyone around them if given the right to education, good health, and opportunity. CARE focuses much of their work on women and girls, and offers affordable and accessible ways to give them a hand up, not a hand out.
We all loved your singing and dancing at Indy PopCon 2014. Is there singing and dancing in your future?
I hope so, but I’m no Beyoncé. I grew up with my dad playing guitar and singing around the fire with my uncles and cousins. Gran still sings while she works around the house. We are a musical family on both sides. Maybe I’ll do a ukulele cover album with my Dad someday. That would be fun.
What about your wedding plans? Will there be a honeymoon in South Africa?
We’re pretty low-key people, so our wedding won’t be extravagant. It will be more about family coming together than anything else. I love the idea of a D.I.Y. wedding and plan to make and repurpose most things, like favors and table decor. There are so many stunning honeymoon locations in SA—maybe a safari in the Okavango Delta or dune surfing in Namibia.
What’s next for you?
I’ve taken some time off after Careful What You Wish For to focus on home and family life. In this crazy business, it’s so important to have balance and normalcy sometimes. But if Robert Rodriguez or Wes Anderson calls… I’ll be there!
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This Kandyse McClure interview was originally published in Cliché Magazine’s Dec 2014/Jan 2015 issue under the title “Where The Heart Is.” Photographed by Ira L. Black.