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"I want to be able to give children in despair the ability to dream and to make those dreams come true. It is mostly true that the magnitude of your wealth, power and/or fame correlates directly to the amount of people you can reach and help. I believe that successful actress have such a great chance and obligation to put the power of their fame to good use in society."

Christel's first 8 years of her life in Cape Town, South Africa are remembered with fondness. She started ballet at the tender age of 4 and that lead to her love for dancing and performing. She also studied tap, jazz and flamenco dance. She studied classical piano from age 6   through the Royal Schools Academy for the next 12 years.

She attended Helpmekaar Girl's High where she ran for her school's track team and was a cheerleader. Her longest run was the Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa - a 56 mile ultra-marathon that she completed with her co-star on the show, David Vlok. "I did it to see what my mind would do. I find the human mind fascinating and I believe that challenging experiences can make an actor's work more interesting."

Her sports also lead to winning medals in National Aerobics Championships and she appeared on Good Morning South Africa's morning aerobics segment - her first appearance on television.

"My mom wanted me to study medicine. My younger sister became the lawyer - and me? The actress!" Christel chuckles. At high school, I was involved in every cultural thing that was going on. Choir, debate teams, school plays. I even played a male part once because I was in an all-girls school."

She was awarded "Most Promising Student" at the Pretoria Technikon during her theater studies and was cast as the lead in various theater productions. She was also crowned as "Miss South Africa Technikon".

She was in the "Performing Arts Council" theater company and then appeared in her big screen debut as the lead in the much-publicized Afrikaans teenage movie 'N POT VOL WINTER. She then was offered a lead in both the very popular sitcom ORKENY SNORKNEY and EGOLI - the most popular prime time serial in South Africa. Her decision led her to portray the character of "Tarien" for five years and subsequently became a household name and one of the most popular characters with the most fan mail," said the creator Franz Marx. That lead to at least 16 magazine covers and numerous acknowledgements as "Most Popular Actress". She did hundreds of public appearances and campaigns.

"I was able to do so much charity work. It gave me such profound appreciation for life. Especially the work I did with the Reach For A Dream Foundation. To see the passion with which little kids hang onto life, even when they are deadly ill is life changing."

Aside from her acting and producing, Christel also writes for various publications and websites, like the Brentwood News, where she writes a monthly article.

"After five years on the show I felt my work was stagnating and knew that I had to spread my wings." The South African industry could sadly not offer the same kind of opportunities and variety that the international market can. Christel is currently located in Los Angeles where she is working on various projects but still returns to South Africa for work. She has been seen in film and TV shows like MARTIAL LAW, THE AGENCY, STRONG MEDICINE amongst others. She shot various commercials and modeling jobs. In her spare time she is involved in fitness training and studies Martial Arts. "I did a guest starring on an episode of Martial Law and worked with the stunt team that also works with Jackie Chan. It was amazing - I did all my own stunts." She traveled to China with the film cast and crew to work on the film KILL BILL to help Uma Thurman get ready for her grueling part. Christel is also joining the cast and crew to Austin, TX in April 2006 for Tarantino's latest film project DEATH PROOF.

Christel's most recent project is the film adaptation of award winning playwright Reza De Wet's hugely successful play, AFRICAN GOTHIC (DIEPE GROND).

Interview by Adele Heydenrich