A Parklands starlet is making waves in the performing arts world and has aspirations of inspiring others.
20-year-old Hilary Ijieh was born in the East London township of Mdantsane, to Nigerian parents who later moved to Parklands when Hilary was a year old.
Hilary says she has always loved acting and dancing and attended schools that allowed her to explore those passions.
“I would do performances at school plays, and my parents immediately saw the passion I had. At Easter time, I would do like a little bunny dance and at Christmas, I would sing, act and dance for them. I used to be in all the plays at school, so I think that is where my journey started.”
She took acting classes at school from Grade 1 through to matric and also did ballet, modern dance and hip hop.
“I received half colours in drama in high school. I did everything,” she says.
Hilary has many awards for her acting and dancing and she also tried her hand at directing and writing some school plays.
She has also received certificates from Trinity College in London in her Grade 6, 7 and 8 years for speech and drama. After matriculating in 2015 from Parklands College, she enrolled for a BCom in Marketing at Varsity College.
“I made a deal with my parents that I study a degree that would let me try to further my acting,” she says.
“I really want to do acting full time, but the degree will be something I have under my belt and something that might help me.”
In July this year, Hilary will visit Orlando, Florida, where she will perform in front of professionals in the industry. She was chosen to go to America after taking part in a talent show in Johannesburg last year.
In 2016 she received the offer of a R50 000 scholarship from the New York Film Academy, but she didn’t go because her parents wanted her to finish her studies. She was still in Grade 11 at the time she was scouted after auditioning for the academy.
At the Joburg talent show last year, Hilary, got to perform in front of Rhavynn Drummer, who is the casting director for Tyler Perry Studios, which is behind movies such as Why Did I Get Married Too and The Family that Prays.
“I really want to make my family proud because they have been so supportive of me throughout this journey,” says Hilary. “My ultimate goal is to be a powerhouse in the arts. Whether it is acting, dancing, singing or directing.”
Her mom, Dora Ijieh, is very proud of her daughter’s achievements.
“She really proved to me what I knew from when she was a toddler; that she is going to be an actress or model. I’m very happy that she’s working hard to achieve her dreams.”
Hilary adds: “I want to be able to create a space where others get inspired by my work and show the world all the talent South Africans have to offer.”