Cindy Swanepoel on why ‘Koek’s’ chaotic drama is resonating with viewers

Cindy Swanepoel plays the role of Christelle Smit on ‘Koek.’ Picture: Supplied.

Cindy Swanepoel plays the role of Christelle Smit on ‘Koek.’ Picture: Supplied.

Published Mar 25, 2024


South African actress Cindy Swanepoel is proof that everything that you go through, prepares you for what’s next in life.

After featuring on the hit Afrikaans soapie “Binnelanders” for almost a decade, she is now the star of the Showmax crime comedy, “Koek”.

The Showmax Original centres on a Cape Town housewife who, after suspecting her husband of having an affair with a stripper named Candi Floss, leads a drunken investigation into a strip club.

Only a few episodes in but streamers are already glued to the series as Swanepoel’s character, Christelle Smit, comically attempts to balance her double life.

But this world is far from the utopia the suburban housewife is accustomed to and her rage over her husband's alleged affair sets off a series of incidents.

The consequences of her actions sees her becoming a stripper, while also fronting as an amateur surgeon as part of an organ trafficking syndicate.

Cindy Swanepoel plays the lead role in the Afrikaans series ‘Koek’. Picture: Supplied.

“This has been the craziest journey that I have ever been on but I feel like I was ready for it,” she told Independent Media Lifestyle.

“‘Koek is a story of trust, love, betrayal and revenge, there are just so many themes and relationships to choose from so anyone will be able to relate to the story and its characters.”

This might be Swanepoel’s first major lead role on a hit local show, but the 42-year-old is no stranger to the television world.

She won a South African Film and Television Award (Safta) as well as a Silwerskerm award for her role as Annelize in “Binnelanders”.

Swanepoel has also featured on popular serials such as “Generations” and “Egoli: Place of Gold” but taking up this multifaceted role on “Koek” is a further elevation of her career.

“After working on a soapie for eight years, I wasn't intimidated by the workload on ‘Koek’.”

She also felt that she had enough personal experience and the emotional capacity that this role required, as her character needed to interweave between the two contrasting realities.

“I loved playing Christelle and from the moment I read the script and saw that comical opening scene where she has quite a reaction to stepping into dog poo, I already knew where I wanted to place her,” she said.

“I partially based my character off my sister who is also a wife and mother and is quite conservative, just like Christelle.”

“But she is also very funny and feisty, just like the character, and I would often ask myself what my sister would do if she was in Christelle’s shoes, so that helped me a lot for this role.”

Swanepoel related to Christelle’s quirky and awkward personality and all of these elements prepared her for the leading role.

“Koek” also features a star-studded cast, including Sandra Prinsloo, renowned for her roles in “The Gods Must Be Crazy” and “The Seagull.”

Sandra Prinsloo plays the role of Moekie on ‘Koek.’ Picture: Supplied.

The acting veteran plays Moekie Koekemoer, a brandy-drinking, cigar-smoking, leopard-print-loving and kidney-stealing mob boss.

“Sandra is just incredible and she completely exceeded my expectations with her professionalism, kindness and humble nature and she is the perfect example of how to behave on a set.”

The supporting cast includes Stian Bam, Jacques Bessenger, Carel Nel, Ashley de Lange and Vinette Ebrahim.

“This is not just one person's story alone and a few characters really stand out. I am excited for people to see what else the show is going to bring.”

Swanepoel believes that by working together, the show’s cast and crew were able to produce something completely different, not only in the Afrikaans TV genre, but also in the entertainment industry as a whole.

“The reaction to the show has been very wonderful so far and I think that people are enjoying it because it's a fantastic story.”

“The response to ‘Koek’ also shows that there is a need for new and different stories and this is a wild one.”

“We have definitely not seen anything like this and we don’t hide the fact that the Afrikaans community is conservative, which also shows that people are ready for these kinds of stories.”

Swanepoel added that viewers will be entertained by “Koek’s” haphazard nature, but they will also be able to relate to the absurd nature of life’s ups and downs which is portrayed on the show.

“This woman’s life was pretty boring before she was thrown into the criminal underworld and this is a totally crazy reality, but life gets crazy sometimes and anything is really possible.”