Jay Anstey bares all!

ZAlebs chats to actress Jay Anstey about her big starring role in Sleeper’s Wake, getting naked and getting confused for a character.

How did you get involved in the film?
I really got involved by accident. I met [director] Barry [Berk] at The Attic and he mentioned that he was working on this film, then I got a call from my agent saying that they were auditioning and would I be interested? The mail came with a big disclaimer, saying I would have to do nude scenes and sex scenes. I was very nervous about that, but once I met Barry and I auditioned, I thought it was a good choice to make. And I don’t think I would have done it if it wasn’t for Barry. He made me feel safe and he also made it seem like it was nothing. He’d say, “Ag, man, it’s fine, it’s just a bit of nudity. And I’d be ‘oh, ok…’. So I say I was coerced into it, but I was actually very lucky to be cast. 
Now that you’ve seen the film, how do you feel about your decision to take on such a risqué and dark role?
It’s done so I can’t think too hard about it now. It was hard to watch but I think the film in general is hard to watch because of the content. So even if it wasn’t me on screen I think I would have felt uncomfortable. But I am glad I did what I did. I learnt the most I’ve ever learnt on a film. I’ve never been a lead in a film before, and I’d never done something of this nature, with a character like Jackie. And I just felt it was something I needed to do. I spoke to my dad about it. He knows Lionel [Newton] and I asked him ‘Should I do this with the nude scenes? I am only 20, I don’t know if this is a good idea.’ And he said I should go for it and I am glad I did.
We see a lot of nudity in American TV, but not in our local productions. How do you think people will react to it?
It wasn’t ever unnecessary nudity or sex. We often spoke about it. And I’d ask ‘Do we have to be naked in this scene?’ and Barry would say ‘yes you do, there’s a purpose.’ It was never just to show nudity for the fun of it. But it is interesting how South Africans react to it. I see this reaction with people who watch Isidingo, they almost believe everything. But with Days of our Lives, they know that the person is a celebrity, not the character. So, it’s almost like, if you hear people speaking in a South African accent and it’s a South African story, you immediately take it to heart, and it becomes more real.
Have your family seen the film? 
God, no. Are you kidding? They are not going to watch it. 
By request? 
More like begging.
Kate Ferreira
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