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Neil Sandilands

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Date of Birth:
1975 Randfontein, South Africa
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South African native, Neil Sandilands, spent nearly twenty years perfecting his craft as one of the country's most talented and versatile actors. From celebrated child star to leading man, Sandilands has earned the reputation of a vividly electric and thoroughly professional star of both stage and screen.At an early age, Sandilands began displaying a remarkable talent for improvisation, and began performing in local revues, operettas and participating in dramatic competitions. Earning a lead in Annie Basson's television production Meester, by age 14, Sandilands was continually sought for parts in dramatic series. His "big break" was followed by another lead-caliber role in Konings, and as a presenter for an M-Net (South Africa's version of HBO) educational series. Capitalizing on his abilities, M-Net sent Sandilands to New York to document the One Child, One World Congress.While pursuing a B.A. in Communications at the University of Johannesburg, Sandilands took the campus by storm, producing and performing his own plays - this was no small feat, considering the University had neither Arts nor Drama departments. So successful were his plays, that one, Noir, garnered second place at the prestigious ATKV National Play Festival. With a reputation as a serious actor, Sandilands was propositioned for what would become his first professional stage roll, in Chekhov's Women, Wives & Witches. Soon after, he returned to the small screen to star in the acclaimed 1995 series, Carpe Diem. The University of Johannesburg also celebrated Sandilands' passion by presenting him with honorary colors, upon graduation, for his contribution to culture at the University.In 2000, Sandilands produced the short film, Entre Nous, while simultaneously starring in Soutmansland, and performing on stage in Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight. In the same year he joined the cast of the immensely popular TV soap opera 7de Laan.Sandilands was awarded the coveted Fleur de Cap Award, in 2002, for his flawless portrayal of Guy, in Kevin Ellyott's stage play, My Night with Reg. Shortly afterward, Sandilands offered a stirring and highly acclaimed portrayal of Rijkhaardt Jacobz in Proteus, the controversial art-house film, directed by Canadian writer and activist, John Greyson. His performance was hailed as "subtle, nuanced and profoundly moving." The role would lead to a nomination for the Prism Best Actor Award (alongside Colin Farrel, Liam Neeson and Ben Kingsley). His role in the soap opera would lead to two consecutive People's Crystal Award nominations for Best South African Actor.Continuing to perform in stage and screen productions, between 2004 and 2005, Sandilands starred in the 80's classic Saturday Night at the Palace at Cape Town's Baxter Theatre, The Unvarnished Truth at the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival, and completed his role as Bart Kruger in 7de Laan, departing the series after more than 1000 episodes. In September 2005, he began work on Gerrit Schoonhoven's production of Deon Meyer's (the "Michael Criton" of South Africa) internationally acclaimed novel, Orion, as protagonist Zatopek van Heerden. Voted Best Drama Series, Sandilands received the 2006 Best Actor nod from Beeld, and was honored with the nomination for Best Actor by the prestigious Afrikaanse Taal en Kultuurvereninging in the same year. The series was nominated in all relevant categories for the ATKV awards, South Africa.Once again, in 2007, Sandilands earned a Best Actor nomination for his performance as Machiel Hansen in Danish filmographer Thomas Vinterberg's controversial drama "Festen"/Celebration. Sandilands also completed work on M-Net's period drama mini-series, Feast of the Uninvited, a collaboration with veteran director Katinka Heyns (Fiela's Child, Paljas) and acclaimed South African playwright PG du Plessis (n Seder val in Waterkloof, Siener in die Suburbs), to be screened in South Africa this year, 2008.In addition to his work in front of, and behind the camera, Sandilands produced and directed music videos for blind South African balladeer Bachuss Nel, as well as musicians Jan Blohm, Ryno Velvet and Valiant Swart. Sandilands directed and edited two full length DVD's, Vuur and Vlam & Groentrui, which both went on to win Tempo Music Awards in their respective categories, whilst "Groentrui" gave Sandilands his first South African Music Award.Sandilands is completing work as producer, director and editor, on KykNET's seventeen-part documentary series, "Impresario", about the theatre, television and film industry in South Africa.
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