Shaleen Surtie-Richards

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Shaleen Surtie-Richards (1955-2021). Actress.

Also billed as Shaleen Surtie, Shalene Surtie-Richards or Shaleen Surtee-Richards on occasion.


She was born Shaleen Rathini Alma Richards in Upington on 7 May 1955, daughter of a school principal. Her mother had a theatre company in Upington.

She was schooled both in Upington and in Cape Town. Qualifying as a kindergarden teacher, she taught in both cities between 1974 and 1984.


She acted in several amateur stage productions between 1974 and 1981, amongst others as a member of the Cape Flats Players and appeared at the Space Theatre in Die Swerfjare van Poppie Nongena. She was also active in productions of the Department of Education’s Theatre-in-Education from 1982 - 1984.

In 1984 she turned full-time professional and became a household name through her appearances on stage, television and films.

She died at her Johannesburg home at the age of 66.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

Her stage work over the years includes roles in The Comedy of Errors (Maynardville 1986), Hello en Koebaai (1986), Die Proponentjie (CAPAB 1986), Kyk Hoe Hol Hulle (1986-1987), Blomtyd is Bloeityd (1987), Romeo and Juliet (Maynardville 1988), Aap in die Mou (CAPAB 1988), Legends! (1988), Just Like Home (1989), Juno and the Paycock (Baxter Theatre 1990), Selle Ou Storie (1991), Kanna hy kô Hystoe (radio broadcast 1994).

'Buckingham Palace', District Six (2001), the pantomime RooiKôppitjie (2001), The Vagina Monologues (2002), As Ek Maar Geweet Het (2011), Rondomskrik (2014), Shirley Valentyn (2008-2009), A Christmas Carol (Baxter Theatre 2013), Siener in die Suburbs (as Ma, Aardklop 2015).

Shaleen appeared as "Fiela" in two stage productions of Fiela se Kind; a CAPAB production in 1986 and thirty years later in a Lefra Produksies production (2017-2018). She also starred in the award-winning 1988 film version.

Her many TV appearances include stints as presenter and roles in single dramas and series such as Generations, Sewende Laan and notably the role of “Nenna Willemse” in Egoli.

Film roles in Fiela se Kind (1988), Die Nag van die Negentiende (1990), Egoli: the Movie, Shirley Valentyn,Treurgrond (released in 2015),

She also worked on radio as narrator and actress.

Awards, etc.

Besides a staggering 28 awards, starting in 1978 when she was still an amateur, e.g. Hallo en Koebaai (Fleur du Cap, Best Actress, 1985), she has been named an Afri-koon (African icon) by the ATKV in 2005 and made Health Ambassador for the Northern Cape. In 2009 she won a Fleur du Cap Best Solo Performance for Shirley Valentyn.


Wikipedia [1].

Die Burger, 18 August 1986.

Die Burger, 23 Augustus 1986.

TVSA [2].

Tucker, 1997.

A. van Wyk Die Taalgenoot, Vol. 68, Iss 5, , May, WINTER, 1999.

Cape Times, 2 April 2001.

Beeld, 23 January 2008.

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