Monique Oberholzer: from beauty queen to movie star

Our own Monique Oberholzer, born and raised in Potchefstroom took a leap of faith and landed herself in New York at the age of 20 and then moved to Los Angeles, achieving her Honours’ degree in acting and directing in 2014 while living out her modelling career. She competed in the Queen of the Universe pageant late last year and represented South Africa, making her mother and Potchefstroom very proud.
“It was a good experience and I am really glad I did it. It was interesting to meet different people from different countries and find out what they stand for. In the beginning, it all felt a little fake, but the more you get to know the girls and the reason they are there, you realise that it’s not about winning, but mostly about raising awareness of what’s going on in their countries. It was a really good experience,” she says.

Monique Oberholzer and Alonso Grandio at the Queen of the Universe competition.

Monique Oberholzer and Alonso Grandio at the Queen of the Universe competition.

Although modelling has been a big part of her life since she was young, she decided that it’s no longer what she wants to live for.
“I am over the modelling thing. As soon as you start doing acting and directing, you enter a whole different world”.
This down-to-earth girl is now hitting it hard in the film industry, working alongside big directors like Admire Simbarasi from Lionsgate. She and her partner, Alonso Grandio, started their own production company, M&A Production in 2015 with Monique’s mom, Anita, as the executive producer, Alonso as the producer and Monique, the director.
They have three feature films to be released in the near future. The first film, Tita, a psychological thriller, will be shot in November. According to Monique, this film is a monster to take on because you tend to question yourself a lot in the making of this kind of film. “It’s a killer to write,” she says. Monique is writing and directing the film while Alonso is producing it. Monique may also be acting in it, but the cast will only be set up once the script is done. This film will be shot in a hospital in LA.
“It’s a scary hospital, so we will only be shooting during the daytime,” she adds.

Alonso Grandio enjoying his first time in South Africa.

Alonso Grandio enjoying his first time in South Africa.

The big news, however, is about a film they want to shoot in South Africa next year.
“I love being in LA but I will always come back and shoot here. We’ve been travelling throughout South Africa trying to scout for places to shoot at, and Alonso has had a blast.”
Alonso has been Monique’s partner for the past two years. Also living in Los Angeles, he has been cast in films like Furious 7.
Monique is currently writing a script about South Africa through the eyes of a very “uninformed” American.
“I want to show the variety in South Africa,” she says. Monique wants to focus on the cultures and food in her film and wants to concentrate more on the rural areas that are unknown to Americans rather than the regular film hot spots like Cape Town or Johannesburg.

A scene of the film Heartsick.

A scene of the film Heartsick.

“It would be amazing to bring 11 different cultures into my story and also focus on the South African wildlife,” she says.
Even though she seems to have her hands full with creating and directing movies, she also makes time to play the star every now and again. Fate, one of the independent feature films she is acting in now, is directed by Simbarasi from Lionsgate. Monique says there are a few South Africans in it. It is going international so they are soon coming back to promote the film here.
“South Africa needs to be ready for it, it’s a crazy drama!” she enthuses.

A scene of the film Shameless.

A scene of the film Shameless.

The film industry didn’t come easy, though, and Monique, like most people, had to start at the bottom.
“In the beginning, I was worried because I was getting a lot of short and mediocre films. Then I realised that many of these films make it to festivals. Through this, I get to meet more people in the film industry and I get noticed more. You may just get to meet the next Steven Spielberg, and they will hold on to you if you do your job right,” she says.

A scene of the film Little Red Riding Hood.

A scene of the film Little Red Riding Hood.

Creating a film is stressful and may take 8 months of your life during which you hardly sleep, you don’t eat and your stress levels are very high every day; but the end result makes it all worth it. Having Alonso, the calm and collected one in her life, the two of them together have achieved so much already and, “It’s like a painting. At the end you see how all your hard work has paid off,” they say.
“My mom taught us there are no dreams, only consistency in this industry if you want to succeed. Having our own company enables us not only to act but to direct, produce and do whatever we want because, for us, the sky is the limit,” Monique concludes.

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