LESLEY-ANN BRANDT [LUCIFER]
WORDS BY IRVIN RIVERA
Like her TV character Maze, South-African actress Lesley-Ann Brandt is fiercely loyal, politically and socially conscious and can definitely cut you if you hurt the people she loves.
Her first appearance as the leather-clad demon Maze in Lucifer’s first episode is magnetic and charged with a promise of an exciting storyline and she delivered. She exudes an aura of confidence yet you know there is gentleness and sophistication inside.
In this exclusive interview, read how Lesley-Ann brings her innate Cape Town sass into her character, Maze’s development throughout the seasons of Lucifer, why she would be a fanfiction book and learn more about her journey as an actress.
How did acting start for you?
I kind of fell into acting-- I know which is weird of me saying because my husband went the completely opposite route.
I had emigrated from Cape Town, South Africa when I was 17 years old. I was just never one of those kids who knew at 10 years old what they want to do- to be a lawyer, be a doctor or something.
I didn’t know how to harness this creativity that I had. And where I grew up in Cape Town, what I do for a living wasn’t an option for me. I was born in 1981 during apartheid in South Africa. So what my parents knew was just really survival to be honest with you. It wasn’t until I moved to New Zealand and it happened.
I would say I am always a bit of a clown as a child growing up in Cape Town but I use that creative big personality in commercials. And it was a casting director who pulled me aside one day and she said “you really need to take this seriously because I think you can have a career in acting.”
I was working as an I.T. recruitment consultant when I auditioned for my first acting role and I got it. I quit my job and I started acting and then my next job was Spartacus and I moved to Los Angeles. And it just happened like that.
What’s your most memorable audition?
Probably the first one when I came to Los Angeles when I took a giant dump in the room.
In New Zealand, it’s usually The Casting Director and the Camera so it’s very intimate. And I’ve never been in a room full of producers and a casting director and just people who seem like they were looking for you to mess up and I was very nervous and I stumbled.
I never worked with papers before because we memorize it off book but there were so much dialogue and I remember being “I’m so sorry guys in New Zealand we do it differently.”
I remember this producer saying “Well you’re not in New Zealand now.”
And I was like “Oh Shit, this is Hollywood. I’m in the big leagues now!”
Let’s talk about your character Maze from Lucifer. How did you book Maze?
I booked her like how thousands of actors booked their shows. I auditioned during Pilot Season. And I did it for a long time. I’ve come over to LA but it had been a tough few years of just grinding it out during Pilot Season year after year.
I think the Lucifer audition was my second that day and my seventh one that week so I was really exercising that audition muscle and I went in and I showed with leather boots on. I had leather YSL boots that I got on sale. I had Leather pants and I had a leather bra underneath my hoodie.
I remember all the actresses in the waiting room looking at me like Why are you such a weirdo? Why are you showing up looking crazy? And when they called my name, I unzipped my hoodie and I went in and was just like I don’t give a fuck. I’m gonna do this character justice. I feel like she represents confidence, sexuality. And the rest is history.
Maze really taught me a lot about freedom of expression, being yourself and owning it.
So coming there did you already feel like you got the part already?
I feel like I had a good chance. But funny enough I wasn’t cast initially. They casted another actress and at the table read and for whatever reason it didn’t work out. The director had sort of always wanted me but he had used his powers of persuasion for Tom and Lauren so he was like I don’t really have too much of a say of who gets cast as Maze but this is my favorite and that happened to be me. After the table read, they reinstated my deal.
I would say one of the giant lessons for people coming into this business is that things can just come in like that.
How much do you think Maze you are and how much Lesley do you think Maze is?
I get asked this question a lot. There’s a lot of her that lives in me. First things first, I’m a girl from Cape Town, from the Cape Flats, and we are known to be very sassy. That part of her is very easy for me to access. But I would say that the quality that I’m most alike to Maze is her fierce loyalty to the people that she loves. Her willingness to go above and beyond to the people that she loves is definitely something that I relate to a lot. The whole torture thing is not really my jam but her sense of humor… I have a dark, kind of dirty sense of humor. And I would say growing up in a very conservative country like South Africa as I’ve moved to different countries, my openness to sexuality evolved.
I’m in a very loving heterosexual relationship but I at the same time have so many friends who are part of the beautiful LGBTQIA community and so Maze really taught me a lot about freedom of expression, being yourself and owning it.
What’s the best thing that you love about Maze?
Aside from what I mentioned before, her wardrobe, which I have a lot of say in.
I love it. I am always online looking at stuff. Listen, she has YSL boots. I get to have a lot of fun with her.
Her look overall- her hair, her make-up, I have my little tentacles in that. And I collaborate with these departments. And I feel like that’s a big part of who she is- how she presents herself to the world and to humans.
Now that Lucifer has been renewed for Season 5, what can you say about your characters’ development throughout all the seasons of the show?
We’ve seen versions of this character in their TV shows, the bad ass chick that can kick your ass, is sassy, etc, so I think it’s very easy to write a character like her as a one note character. That being said, the source material that we’re loosely based on, this character that Neil Gaiman created, was so layered and interesting when I researched her way back in the beginning.
So when I look at the seasons and break it down, I would say Season 1, she is trying to get back home. I related to that. I understood what it felt like when I emigrated at 17 to New Zealand. I got that feeling of unfamiliarity and not being at home.
Season 2 was about her being stuck on earth now and trying to make earth home. She’s like if I can’t go back, how do I make earth home? So I’ve got to deal with human beings and human feelings and that’s all new to her.
Season 3 was about strengthening and forging her friendships- Linda, Trixie, Chloe, even Lucifer and the changes in those dynamics.
And in Season 4 (to those of you who have watched) it’s about finding her one person and finding love and figuring out who is that person for her. So it’s all coupled in this amazing kind of fierce woman who is just really soft in the middle, way deep down in the middle.
I’m excited for Season 5, I don’t know where they’re gonna take us. I hope I get to go back to hell with Lucifer and see that world and we’ll see.
If you’re not acting what do you usually do?
I’m with my son and my husband at home chilling. I used to be a lot more social. Given what I do for a job and I’m often at a lot of these social events and doing things for work, the time I have to take a moment and just breathe and hangout in the backyard or in the pool with my family is my favorite place.
If you’re gonna be a book, what book would you be and why?
I’d be a fanfic novel. Have you read fanfiction? It’s intense. Yeah probably fanfic because there’s no rules. That’s kind of how I live my life. There’s no rules.
See Lesley as the badass Maze on Lucifer only on Netflix.