Elize du Toit

From soap to shrink

SOURCE: Sesame Magazine, Issue 241

Nine years ago Elize du Toit put her academic work on hold to star in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks. Since leaving the show fve years ago, Elize has returned to her studies by taking up an OU degree in psychology. She takes time out from working hard on a TMA to talk to Sesame…

Elize du Toit was studying history at Edinburgh University when she went along to a Hollyoaks audition “for the ride” and managed to beat thousands of other hopefuls.

The 27-year-old said: “It wasn’t a difficult decision to leave university to join Hollyoaks because i had two years of the university experience and I always wanted to be an actress.

“My original plan was to take a year out, but it didn’t work out that way. “i was working long hours, six or seven days a week on Hollyoaks. I always thought i would do an OU degree but it took longer to get it together. But i always had it at the back of my mind that I could do that.”

Elize transferred her credits from Edinburgh and initially considered working towards an Open degree, but instead decided to go for psychology.

“i did not want to do history,” she said. “I figured I might want to pursue a different career in my 30s and to study something I would use. I am really interested in psychology and there are things I could do with the subject. i could do a Masters in a lot of different subjects.”

She started in 2007 with the short course Understanding health (Y178) before Exploring psychology (DSE212). At present she is spending 20 hours a week studying two courses: Social psychology (DD307) and Child development (ED209). Next year she hopes to complete her degree after studying Biological psychology (SD226) and Cognitive psychology (dd303), plus a short course.

“I’m finding two courses at the same time really hard because i am working as well. last year, i did Exploring psychology, a level 2 course, and I found it was fine.

“I went away a lot and wasn’t able to make any tutorials, but it was absolutely fine. This year I am doing a level 2 course and a level 3 course and I’m finding it really difficult.”

Since leaving Hollyoaks for three years, Elize has been living in london and been working less regularly than before, using the opportunity to focus on her OU degree. Last year she appeared in Casualty and The Bill, and her next role is in Waterloo Road.

“The nature of my job makes it easier to do distance learning. My jobs are very sporadic and even if i’m working, i’m not filming a lot of the time so it works out quite well.

“Sometimes it is quite hard to make yourself do the work, but deadlines do help. This year i have been able to make it to a couple of tutorials and I’m going to try to go to a few more. But i have been quite isolated, particularly with this latest assignment, because there aren’t many people around me who can help. There is a forum i could join, but i haven’t registered with it yet.”

Elize says she doesn’t have any firm ambitions at the present and is instead focusing on her course while keeping her options open, but will continue acting for the time being.

She added: “I think The Open University is amazing. it is a brilliant opportunity for people to do things they would not have otherwise have had the chance to do at other points in their lives. When I took my exams last year, i was struck by the diversity of people who were there.”

6:03pm on 11th August 2009

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