Meeting Maria
Fairlady|May 2018

She’s gone from playing the eldest Von Trapp child in The Sound of Music to the coveted role of everyone’s favourite singing nun, Maria. We catch up with singer, dancer and actress Carmen Pretorius.

Shireen Fisher
Carmen Pretorius (28) has graced both the stage and screen, having starred in musicals like Mamma Mia!, Footloose, Jersey Boys and Cabaret; three Janice Honeyman productions; and as Lien Jooste in the Kyknet film Lien se Lankstaanskoene. She’s also appeared in local TV shows such as Isidingo, Binnelanders and Pasella. These days she’s playing the lead role of Maria onstage in the local production of The Sound of Music, currently on at Artscape in Cape Town.

Carmen got her big break 10 years ago, during matric. She’d entered M-Net’s High School Musical: Spotlight South Africa competition, but very nearly didn’t make it to her first audition.

‘I was finishing up my last high school show, Hello Dolly!, in which I played Dolly,’ she recounts. ‘I went to bed late, overslept and missed my flight. I was lying in bed that morning thinking I should just forget about the audition, but then something told me not to. I had R1000 in my bank account and the next flight cost R999 – so I just squeezed my eyes shut and bought the ticket.’ It paid off: she won the role of Gabriella Montez in the Pieter Toerien-Hazel Feldman production, jump-starting her career.

‘If I’d stayed in bed I would never be where I am today. It literally came down to getting out of bed!’

Carmen grew up on the West Rand in Johannesburg. She describes her parents as ‘dynamic and supportive’. Her mother is an optometrist and her father an electronic engineer, but they both also have a creative streak: her mom plays piano and a bit of violin, and took up the saxophone at age 50, while her dad paints and is a keen photographer. They divorced when Carmen was young, but she feels the experience helped mould her into the performer she is today.

‘It made me more empathetic,’ she says. ‘If you can understand people, or try to understand them, it makes you a better performer.’

Her childhood wasn’t conventional, says Carmen.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM FAIRLADYView All

How to Survive the Feast-Or Famine Cycle

It’s empowering to have more than one income stream, but there is a downside: it’s easy to splurge when money is plentiful, but what about the lean months? Three self-starters share their tips for keeping an even keel through good and bad.

6 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

Kaley's Comet

Kaley Cuoco was so beguiling as Penny on The Big Bang Theory that she soon became one of the highest paid actors in television. With HBO’s comedic thriller series The Flight Attendant, she entered exciting, slightly sinister new territory – but it proved her range as an actress and cemented her broad-based appeal.

7 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

Let the Music Play

My dad died days before the global lockdown. While I was trapped within four walls, music and dancing gave me reason to smile again.

7 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

How to Make Your Own Luck

Luck isn’t easy to measure or study, but those who have managed to do it discovered it’s not the work of fate – it’s a skill you can cultivate and improve. So, how do you go about it?

8 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

Local Flavour

Stocking up your pantry? These artisanal foods are guaranteed to ignite the senses of home chefs everywhere. Meet the foodies behind two of South Africa’s tastiest brands.

7 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

The Comfort of Ritual

Rituals imbue our lives with depth and meaning. And in times of uncertainty, they are even more important because they create a sense of grounding.

8 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

Get Your Shine Back!

When the last of the summer heat is over, it’s important to take time to reverse any hair damage caused by sun and sea water.

5 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

The Rise of the Personal Shopper

It’s not a new concept, but the number of people who make a living from sourcing goods on behalf of clients is on the rise. We talked to three personal shoppers to find out what it takes.

7 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

Back to the Wild

Imagine camping in the Little Karoo… a billion stars above you, the ancient desert beneath, the insistent flapping of your canvas tent in the cold night air. Then banish all the rustic images this conjures up – because Dwyka Tented Lodge will confound all your expectations.

6 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

A Good (Mo) Hair Day

"Beauty Mokgwamme had other dreams, but circumstances took her exactly where she was meant to be."

3 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022