Hey Tamilyn, Thanks for joining me this week on SA Rocks!!
Not many SA locals will know who you are or why I am interviewing you so let’s get in to it:
Where in the world are you now?
I’m currently living in a town called Oceanside, which is just north of San Diego, California USA.
Why did you leave SA?
Goodness, people ask me this every single day, I wish this was an easy answer but I think packing up your life and moving to a new country is one of the hardest things anyone will ever do.
So here is the short cut version of why Im here in the USA.
During apartheid my parents would organize concerts that integrated all the races, but the police would come and shut the concerts down and say no next time you organize a concert you need to have a separate location for blacks, whites, Indians etc. Well my parents disagreed with that and so they continued to have mixed race events. So eventually they actually got black listed just like Nelson Mandela did. And some of their other friends that were doing the same thing just disappeared. So they left SA for a bit to try get away from the police. So quit their jobs sold a bunch of stuff and went and worked around the world. Eventually they got back to SA and said no they need to try and move since they didn’t want their kids growing up with a government that enforced apartheid. So they applied to come to the USA. Well 18 years later we got a phone call from the States saying you need to be in the USA within 4 months or you lose your green cards for good.
So what do you do? By now it was the new South Africa, and all the reasons why my parents wanted to leave where gone. And who can pack up their bags and life in 4 months. So America said if we could stamp our passports in 4 months in the USA we would then have one more year to make our final decision. So that’s what we did. Came to California on a holiday went to Disney Land, etc were great tourists in this very fast paced life. Went back to SA and said nope the USA is not for us. So that was that until, we started to realize that if we denied our green card America would never let us into the States ever again. My parents wanted us (I have 2 older brothers) to have opportunity and they just saw SA going nowhere it seemed. And in the year one horrific thing after another happened. I was never scared living in SA until, my maid phoned one day with a sound in her voice I will always remember. She had just been raped, 5 meters outside the police station and the police had done nothing to help her. Her face was cover with bite marks, and my mom and dad were the ones that had to go and dig through the bushes, finding the man’s jacket and her underwear. The police had not even bothered to go look outside. And on the police report every time my maid had said he ‘raped her’ the black policeman wrote ‘made love’. This incident made me understand that a woman would always be a man’s right to rape living in Kwa- Zulu Natal.
From then on you understand why one can actually be afraid of the dark, why it’s important to lock your doors and have bars on all your windows, and have dogs not just as a pet, but as an extra team of security.
We never ran away from SA, since I don’t think running includes millions of tears shed. But I think my family all just came to the agreement that hey why not try something new, and see what happens. SA will always be there and it’s only a flight away. Life’s too short to not experience new things. And hey you can’t take Africa out of a person’s soul.
So you entered in to a reality TV show over in the states, tell us about it.
I graduated from University in May and 2 days later was on a plane back to SA for a holiday to see all friends and family. Had a crazy time while I was there, then got back to the states and sat down realizing, “now what”. The full time working world was calling back, then I got an email asking me to go help promote this new reality TV show. I realized why don’t I just go audition instead since I have nothing holding me back.
So I did and now 2 months later I am still in the running.
But the show is going to be insane. It’s a mix between SURVIVOR and THE AMAZING RACE. The prize money is $10million, the largest amount of money ever given out on a reality TV show. But like always there is a catch, if you get on the show you have to give up all that you own. Yes, everything, anything that can be sold you have to give to the show. So if you win you win $10million but if you get kicked off you come home with NOTHING. But the show is going to take the 15 contestants to all 7 continents and we will be doing physical and mental challenges.
Your pitch (see video below) was very “world traveller” centric, how have you possibly been to all the places in the video?
Well SA is in its self a world in one country, so I have always had a passion to go and see new places. My parents had gone around the world working in different countries and have told me about their crazy adventures of sweeping the beaches in Israel, or sleeping in the streets in Germany in the middle of winter. I have been brought up in a family that encourages you to seek after a goal and work your butt off to accomplish it. So that’s what I have done. Since I was 14 years old I have worked, and paid for every crazy travel excursion. I have been on a riverboat down the Amazon River, gone of a coastal explorer in Venezuela, to the River Delta in Vietnam, all on my own pocket. I think its just in my blood, you can’t talk about a culture or people without actually stepping foot on their soil, and realizing how much they have to deal with each day just to get by.
So yes I have traveled, but then all my money is spent of memories and not things. I don’t have much else.
What has been the best travelling experience you’ve had so far?
I would definitely have to say a trip to Egypt. It was the last holiday that I remember my whole family took together. You imagine the pyramids to be out in the middle of nowhere, but instead you are driving through the Cairo and you look up and there they are right outside the city. It truly was spectacular, and it felt like everyone was living in a land trapped in time. And I’ve never had so much sand in my hair, eyebrows, ears, and even pores. This experience was truly unique and at least my family was there to treasure the adventures we had.
Do you plan to ever move back to SA?
You know that’s why I just went back to SA in May. After graduating from university I thought now is the perfect time to move back to SA. We originally moved with the thought that one day we could move back. So I arrived in Cape Town, traveled around there met up with family and drove up the garden route, stopping and looking at different towns. It was all so stunning. Truly South Africa is beautiful no matter what. Then arrived back in Durbs. I went up to Hillcrest that’s where I use to live, and what a shock. It has turning into a little Pinetown. The building and construction that is going on is insane. It was a little sad too though because all your memories of hills and open land are all filled with new gated communities. I tried to look for work, but there was nothing for me, and everyone said Tamilyn you will never find work in that field. So I continued to seek and ask questions and just live a normal life in SA. But I wasn’t allowed to drive anywhere at night. Everyone was constantly checking up on me. I think I spent a fortune on car guards. Saw people being beaten up. Had family and friends homes been broken into, had my uncle hijacked and taken into the wilderness and dropped off to die. You guys know the stories. My friends in the USA where emailing me asking how was life. And well my heart ached, cause with every bone in my body I wanted SA to be that beautiful place I had held in my heart. And it sure was when I was sitting in the stadium rooting on SA while they played the All Blacks in Durban. Or hanging out at Joe Kools, during the Mr Price pro. The people the fellowship the pride in SA was incredible. But I knew that right at this time in my life, SA is just not where I must continue my journey. My friends and family have left, are leaving or trying to move. So that’s why I got back on the plane for the USA, it’s a completely different place but hey you learn to bloom where you are planted, and there are so many Saffers out here its crazy. So you come back to the USA and call up your mates, have a braai, watch SA kill it in the world cup and celebrate SA from across the big blue ocean. While our hearts are still there our bodies are just adapting to a new climate of change.
What is your favourite thing about SA?
Favourite, gee there are so many. I think SA just has a wild beauty about it that is nowhere else in the world. The animals and the lying in bed listening to all the sounds of birds, crickets and bugs. Yes San Diego we have no bugs to listen to. I love how SA has a vegetation that changes so drastically that you feel you have gone across the globe in just a few hours in the car. And the people, yes there is a distinct characteristic that makes up a South African.
What do you miss most about SA?
I do get home sick. It’s normal to feel confused and long for your homeland where you can walk into a shop and buy biscuits that you love. Where the chocolate is just so rich and creamy, where meat pies are in every corner shops or petrol station. When I can ask for “Tomato Sauce” and they understand what I want, and not give me a blank stare of utter confusion. But hey family and friends are what I miss most. I was so close to my family, and now my family is spread out through out the world living in England, Australia, and South Africa. I think about my younger years and realize that when I have children they will never have all their cousins around to play with. So that makes me sad.
How much money do you get if you win the reality show?
Oh man, $10million.
What will you do with it?
I didn’t even think about the prize money until after I auditioned and then everyone asked how much money and I winning, then everyone’s response was “Oh Tamilyn you know you look so pretty today, you know how much I like you” they all made me laugh. So you know what I have no clue what Im going to do with that money if I do win. Right now I’m in debt due to my university fees so that’s the only thing on my mind. Pay of student loans for university FIRST… But helping my family, going on a holiday with everyone would be just wonderful. Buy a new car that does not have squeaky breaks. And I would love to just help people. Not through an organization but through real grass roots ways. Ya, that’s my ultimate desire. There are so many people that need a helping hand.
Um, I think South Africans are fearless. That’s a good way to put it. I watched Fear Factor the other day and there was a South African guy on it, and he seriously annihilated all the other contestants. He ate everything, did everything with out a blink of the eye. I was so proud.
South African’s understand hardship, and have seen things most of the USA will never even fathom. So I think we have an edge that is different. And oh yes, American’s love our accents. Which is just funny to me.
How bout dropping the SA Rocks url on USA TV?? hahaha, just kidding.
Sounds good, I will definitely do that.
Thanks for your time and goodluck with the show. I’m sure you’ll make SA very proud!
Thanks so much for the support, keep your fingers crossed, who knows maybe one of the stops on the show will be SA. That would be wonderful.
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