Elize du Toit

OK! Interview

SOURCE: OK! Magazine, March 14th 2002

main_press_ok140302.jpgAn OK! beauty exclusive with ‘Hollyoaks’ star Elize du Toit. The reluctant pin-up reveals how the role of Izzy Cornwell completely changed her life forever.

Elize du Toit from Hollyoaks is even prettier in the flesh, which is almost unbelievable considering the impact she makes on screen as blonde bombshell Izzy Cornwell. At 21, Elize owes her English-rose looks not to British ancestry but to her healthy upbringing in South Africa, where she lived until she was 14.

But although Elize is one hundred per cent Afrikaans, her South African vowels have been replaced with a rather well-to-do English lilt. This may have something to do with the fact that she feels totally at home here in the UK, and says she knew she would live here even when she was a little girl. These days home is a pretty Grade II listed house in Liverpool, where Elize happily hides herself away when she is not needed on the hectic set of Channel 4’s hit soap Hollyoaks.

In an OK! beauty special, the actress, who has been dating her former co-star Ben Hull for nearly a year, reveals her secret style tips and how she maintains her gorgeous looks, and talks about the audition that shot her to fame in the soap nearly two years ago…

Elize, when did you get the part of Izzy?

It was July 2000. I was at Edinburgh University doing a history course. It was a four-year course and I completed two years of it.

How did you find out about the part?

It was actually from my boyfriend at the time. We’d just come back from holiday in Vietnam and we were both in London and he said he’d heard about the auditions. We thought about going to the London ones that day but they were too busy so we went to the ones in Edinburgh.

Tell us about your audition…

We each had to introduce ourselves and I guess they knew what they were looking for because they just said yes or no. I queued up and, when it got to me, I just said: ‘I’m Elize and I’m a student.’ In the second stage, there were 60 people and we had to read from scripts. They whittled it down until there were 15 of us. Then, three weeks later, I got a phone call saying I was wanted for the final round in Liverpool, where we had to read again. At the end of the day they chose four of us – Marcus Patric who plays Ben, Lesley Johnston who plays Laura and Andy Somerville who plays Theo.

Was it a hard decision to leave university?

Yes, because when you go to an open audition like that you don’t really think there’s a chance you’ll get it. I knew I should really carry on with my studies but it wasn’t a hard decision to make. You can’t turn down an offer like that.

Were you looking for an acting role at the time?

No, not at all. I’ve no idea what made me go along to that audition. I suppose it was because I’ve always been into acting. As a student, I was really involved in the university theatre company and all through my school career I’d been in plays.

What did your parents think about you giving up your degree?

I’m really lucky because my parents just want whatever makes me happy. Ironically, we moved to England so we four kids could get good university degrees. With the sad situation in South Africa, university degrees there aren’t internationally recognised so my dad wanted us to go to university in England. Now my brother, who is two years older than me, has gone back to South Africa to university and I’ve postponed my studies to work on Hollyoaks. My Sister has just started at university here, so hopefully she’ll finish!

Do you remember your first day on the Hollyoaks set?

I was really upset that on my first day I had to wear a bikini – that is every girl’s nightmare. I’d never been on a sun bed in my life but I went on one a couple of days before. At Mersey TV, they throw you in at the deep end. There’s no introductory training or anything – you have to teach yourself. That’s why it’s such a great place to work.

You lived with five of the Hollyoaks girls when you first started. What was it like living and working together?

It is weird because you’re thrown together. I was leaving everything behind, going to Liverpool and living and working with a group of people I’d never met before. It took my quite a while to settle in and totally let myself go. After I lived with the girls, I moved in with Gary Lucy (who plays Luke), Ben Hull (Lewis), Mikyla Dodd (Chloe) and Terri Dwyer (Ruth) and then with Mikyla in a house she had bought. Now I’ve got my own house, which I share with Ali Bastian, who plays Becca.

Do you get recognised much?

No. The other day I arrived at Lime Street station really late and I was waiting for a cab. The cabby already had a fare but he told me to get in so I did and there was a student in there. He was asking me what University I was at. Eventually, I got round to telling him I was in Hollyoaks and he said he watched it all the time but didn’t recognise me!

Are you just as glamorous when you’re away from the Hollyoaks set?

No, I’m a jeans girl. We wear so much make-up at work that when we’re not there it’s so nice to let your skin breathe. I went to Mexico recently and my skin felt lovely afterwards, but when I’d been back at work for a month it started to feel all clogged again. I’m not one of those girls who has groomed nails and no roots. I’m just not very good at glamour. It doesn’t come easily to me.

So, how do you feel about being a pin-up?

I see myself on the cover of a magazine and I don’t think that it looks like me at all. My first-ever photo shoot was for the cover of a lads’ magazine. They made me feel really pretty and glamorous at the shoot and then the pictures came out and I remember thinking: ‘Oh my god, my parents are going to see this!’ I was holding my breasts in a shy way and when it came out it looked like a really sexy shoot!

2:59pm on 14th March 2002

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