Intro: Keren Tahore of Tamberskloof is nothing like nasty Nirvana, the character she played in Scandal. Dawn Kennedy discovers that she’s as warm and spicy as the chai tea she loves to drink.
Copy: As we sip chai at Masala Dosa in Long Street, Keren Tahore’s favourite restaurant, a man on the street stops dead in his tracks, takes two steps backwards and peers at Keren. “I get that all the time,” she says, giving a friendly wave in return. Television has brought her into the living rooms of South Africa and made her a public figure. For two years, she scandalised viewers with her shenanigans as Nirvana on Scandal. “I loved it. My character as so bad she had no limits.”
“I’d love to do more TV work. I’m just waiting for the right role. Soapies are great because they provide so much work for actors. I’m not a soapie fan but I have to admit to a secret passion for Footballers wives. It was absolute nonsense. Marc Lottering and I would sms each other during the programme saying did you see that. ‘
While it doesn’t bring her as much recognition, acclaim or money as television, Karen’s true passion is theatre. For months has been chasing up and down the country: First rehearing “Hard Love” in Johannesburg; Then performing Jutro at Grahmstown festival; Opening Hard Love in Johannesburg, and travelled with it to Durban and Knysna. She found the schedule “hectic but deeply satisfying” and is relieved to be now nestled in her Tamberskloef apartment. “Cape is about connecting.” She claims Tamboerskloof is the best place to be in Cape Town. “The view from my balcony is fantastic. My morning ritual is breakfast at the Daily Deli. I’ve cut bread out of my diet and sorely miss their sandwiches. During the day, I love to walk everywhere.
Born in Israel, With an Algerian father and a Russian mother it’s perhaps no wonder that Kerens artistic tastes range across the globe. “I’m a movie fanatic,” she says reeling off a list of obscure, tongue-tripping names. “At the moment I’m going through a Kieslowski phase. I love the Spanish director Almodavor and the French Algerian director Tony Gandalf. My favourite actress is Victoria Abrem. She’s Spanish and very powerful. She’s a frequent visitor to The Labia: “It’s one of those gorgeous, old Cape Town institutions. They bring in such excellent films. I wish them long life and may they never close down.”
Keren is also a voracious reader. “My favourite writer is Roman Gary. He’s phenomenal and I’ve read most of his work. He changes his names and his technique in nearly every book.” She keeps in touch with her Israeli roots by reading books from the Hebrew library. “I’m not a practicing Jew but I do celebrate all the major festivals with my family.”
After the frenetic activity of the past few months, she’s turning the focus inward and writing a play. “It’s very personal and close to my heart.” She finds writing “tricky.” Jutro, her previous play, was inspired by a dream image of a tall woman dancing with short men.
She’s also a long-term yoga practitioner. She’s been practicing Iyengar yoga for years and finds it vital to her well-being. “I’ve done a lot of work on myself. I’m a great believer in strengthening the mind body connection. As an actor, you have to find and keep your centre, which isn’t easy if you’ve been playing the same character for weeks and months. Sometimes you can get so deeply involved in the creative process that you don’t see sunlight for weeks. If it is an emotionally intense role it’s draining.”
She loves letting loose on a dance floor and admits that she was once an enthusiastic trance dancer, pounding the dust through the night until the early morning. Now, she feels the trance dance scene is a bit jaded and only unleashes her tribal instincts in her living room. She finds that every style of brings out different aspects of her character. Belly dancing “opened me to my womanhood.” Currently she’s discovering her sleek and sexy side through the tango.
Keren is living the healthy life and only indulges in the occasional shot of whiskey. Smoking is her greatest weakness. “it’s a fantastic thing to do, but please, please, I beg you, let me stop.” She makes up for this vice by eating healthy. “I can’t remember when I last had a take away. I don’t like fast food. I love cooking, although I’m not very good at it. I know how to make very good fish cakes and cous- cous.”
Her greatest strength is an insatiable curiosity for life “I’ve always tried to put fear aside and experience as much as possible. I believe that when you jump there will always be a net to catch you if you fall.”
Actors are notoriously critical of their appearance but Karen is comfortable in her skin. “Occasionally I’ve fantasised about having a longer forehead, but all my life experience is on my face and so there’s nothing that id change.” She exudes an attractive self-confidence: not the brash arrogance of youth, but the deep a mature woman’s knowingness.
Little black book
Her favourite restaurant is Masala Dosa on Long Street. She recommends their vegetable thali. 021 424 6772
She keeps her skin glowing with Victorian Garden products, which she buys at The Natural Route in Lifestyle Centre on Kloof 021-422 1000
The best cup of coffee in town is at R cafe on Long Street 0214241124
She breakfasts at the Daily Deli and loves their Avocado and Emmnetal ciabbta. 021-4260250
Has been practicing Iyengar yoga for years with Assete Myers: “She’s the best, best , best.’
Takes tango lessons at Albert Hall 021-4477237
Hires art house movies from DVD Nouveau 021- 4224984.
CAPTIONS: Keren Tahore’s sultry eyes gaze at diners from the tongue in cheek Bollywood posters that decorate the walls of her favourite restaurant, Masala Dosa in Long Street.