Suraya Rose Santos once lived in a small town situated just outside of Pretoria. She now jokes about her home being a suitcase as she has lived in over 17 countries. She shows no signs of slowing down.
Suraya Rose Santos studied at the Michelle Ayden Dramatix, a private institute specializing in the performing arts. She graduated with an international drama and speech performance diploma from Trinity Guildhall London. In addition, she graduated with a South African degree in drama and speech.
Suraya Rose Santos has appeared in several feature films, short films, music videos, and television productions across the world. To name a few; Bhais Café in 2020, Deep End in 2018, Last Broken Darkness in 2017, and Free State in 2016. Suraya also made a guest appearance on the second season of the American TV series, Ice, directed by Guy Norman Bee.
The South African beauty is always trying to find new ways to stay active in the industry. She has popped up in popular South African and international music videos. She worked on Bollywood inspired promo’s. She also shot experimental short films with Director and fellow actor Ryan Kruger to name a few.
Aside from her deep-seated passion for the performing arts, Suraya’s modeling career is something else she can rightfully boast about. With the growing interest from international publications, it’s only a matter of time before this gem shines brightly under the global spotlight.
Welcome to TV Series Hub, hailing from a small Indian community in Pretoria, South Africa, how did it all begin?
Thanks for having me, you know the irony is I grew up watching old films, my father and grandfather owned a majestic shop where they sold projectors, rented out film reels back then it was mostly Bruce-lee films, westerns, anything action-packed. Most of my childhood consisted of watching these films. I never knew I wanted to be an actor until high school actually, I wasn’t the popular kid, kept to myself really, played a lot of sports, was very much on the tomboy side and never really thought of myself as being the type of person to be in front of the camera or a crowd, until I auditioned for our annual high school play, I had such fun and on opening night that moment on stage changed it all for me. I was hooked.
With such a diverse ethnic background, what benefits and challenges have you faced so far?
I think the biggest challenge is when people try to put me in a box, I’ve learned that it’s nothing personal or racist; they just want me to be something the audience or target market can relate to. The biggest benefit is I get to stand out, I’m so grateful that I can pass for almost any ethnicity. (Thanks mom and dad) now the only catch is to learn other languages.
When did you realize that your passion lies in this industry? Is there anyone that inspired you to become an actress?
My passion for this industry comes from the love I have for this craft, what we do is certainly not normal by any means. From the crew, catering, and cast we get to bring to life a magical world that first started off as someone’s idea, or telling a story that needed to be told. It’s an amazing gift being able to be a voice for the voiceless, breathing life into a piece of paper, and creating a character people can relate to. Growing up I’ve always adored Angelina Jolie, the grace and beauty that she has as a woman, but also the fearlessness and strength she brings to each character. Also I had a very encouraging mom. When I told her that I wanted to be an actor, she was 100% on board. Whatever me and my siblings wanted to do she always encouraged it.
Not only are you an actress, but you are also an international model. Some actresses do that as a side-hobby while others pursue it as a career. What is it for you? How did you get your break?
Modeling for me is like an acting role to be honest, you’re still telling a story through your body. I really just love being in front of the camera and bringing peoples visions to life. Early mornings or late nights on set is honestly a home to me. So as I mentioned before I was big into sports and a tomboy growing up, one day playing soccer with a friend his mom needed a model for her store, he suggested me and before I knew it I was in magazines, on billboards and flying to different countries to “work”.
Who has been your support throughout your journey in this industry?
My mother, my rock, my everything. My sister Shenaaz who literally became my assistant from helping me GPS to set to even helping me learn lines. My brother Shane who always called me a “super-star” and my sister in-law Sue who use to call me her muse. Then there’s the countless of other wonderful people I’ve met throughout this amazing journey who just keep me motivated and inspired.
It is said, getting used to hearing ‘No’ and still being persistent is key to continue in this industry. Have you had any experiences like that? What did you do to continue striving in your career?
Honestly, you’re lucky if you hear anything at all, lol it’s more of a silent rejection. Sometimes you only find out you didn’t get the job when you see the commercial or trailer and you’re obviously not in it. This is where modeling really helped me develop a thick skin. I go into an audition, regardless if I did well or not in that room, I make sure I had fun. But as soon as I leave the room I forget about it because from that moment it’s no longer my problem or my job. Unless it’s a callback or I book it, it’s out of my hands. Look sometimes it’s hard and it’s a part you really want, but you have to remind yourself it’s nothing personal, it doesn’t take anything away from your talent or looks.
Do you have any rituals or habits for auditions or when filming?
My late father loved film. It was his life really… sadly he passed before he could ever see me on the big screen. Although we had our issues, I always like to dedicate each character I know he’d love to watch to him.
Your major break came from ‘Last Broken Darkness’ which premiered at the ^SunSCREEN Film Festival. How did you land the role and how were you feeling during that period?
The director Christopher-Lee Dos Santos was invited by my mom to attend a play my performing arts university was hosting, he watched me act and shortly after he asked me to come into the studio, audition and do a screen test for the part of ‘Rose’. He wanted to strip away the common misperception I get of just being a pretty face and I guess I did an okay job considering I got the role. Lol. It was my first ‘Real’ auditions, so I booked it. At that moment it felt like I won the lottery. A few years later a friend I worked with on Last Broken Darkness took me to get a tattoo of a rose on my left rib. Just as a reminder of where I started. It was a tough shoot! But I’d do it all over again any day!
Recently, you star in a comedy film ‘Bhai’s Cafe’ which tackles important topics in a South African context. What messages do you think the show was giving?
Well on a personal level, I certainly learned about gentrification. I was very ignorant to the topic prior to working on Bhai’s Cafe. The beautiful message that we bring to you is that United, family and friends, we can’t be bought, the little guy will NOT get stepped on by the bigger guy.
What was your role? How did you get it?
I played the part of Rashmi Patel, daughter to “Bhai” , I auditioned with the casting director Thorsten and shortly after had a call back with Director Maynard, Mehboob (Bhai) & Siv ( Patrick) we had fun in that callback did a little on-screen chemistry test and after that I got the call from the casting director asking my availability!
How was being on set? What experiences did you learn from being in the movie?
Oh wow, so many things I could chat about here. From the laughs shared with Maynaard Kraak, Mehboob Bawa and the craziest thing was myself and Siv (Patrick) lived right next door to each other and had no idea, my on-screen sister-in-law Veena played by Elodie Venice, brother Khabir player by Stavros Cassapis all lived like on the same block, it quickly became from playing onscreen family to feeling like a real family!
I honestly loved working with Razia Rawoot (Producer), she inspired me in so many ways. Now looking back and getting time to hang out with her during our press tour, I honestly feel like elements of my character was based on her. A strong woman that wears her heart on her sleeve.
I was inspired by our incredibly talented choreographer, Ahneesh Valodia.
You will also be in a horror movie called “Triggered”, what is the movie about? Why should viewers watch it?
It’s a thriller about nine friends, all harboring a dark secret, go camping in the woods. After a wild night of partying, they wake up with SUICIDE BOMBS strapped to their chests, all with varying times on their countdown clocks. They try to work out how to disarm their bombs or find help until they discover they can ‘take’ one another’s time by killing each other.
Watch it with 8 of your closest friends see if you’ll be friends after.
You will also be on television, starring in a supporting role alongside Tom Welling and Brandon Fraser in “Professionals.” How was it like working with so many talented cast members?
Honestly, a career highlight! It’s not just the opportunity of working with people I grew up adoring on tv, but also the real friendships made on set! From our incredible producers, directors, and insanely talented cast & wonderful crew, there was never a dull moment on set. I don’t think I’ve ever been so sad for a production to be over. It was hard work make no mistake, but it was fun!
What is the show about? Anything you can spill for our readers?
Ah wish I could, but I will tell you this, it’s definitely gonna keep you entertained! STAY TUNED
What do you do in your free time? Any hobbies?
In my free time, I love meeting up with creatives and creating! Or just your average stuff, spending time with my mom, friends.
What other projects are you working on?
There’s a lot on my slate, but sadly everything has been put on ice with the global fight against Covid-19. The important thing right now is for us all to stay healthy.
Thank you for joining us. What is one experience that you have had which is interesting but haven’t shared it yet?
Most interesting experience-before I booked the part of Rashmi Patel, I was ready to move back home defeated, that season I spent a lot of money renting out places in CT even moved twice, went to so many castings, auditions, and callbacks and in 6months wasn’t lucky to book anything. When you have a dry season it’s hard not to question yourself and your craft, I was ready to come back home and reevaluate life. But then I got the call for a callback and booked a commercial. I had to cancel my flight back to Johannesburg and find a new place to stay.